I’ll Eat My Words if Bill Gates….

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I wrote a piece on LinkedIn very recently about my shock at the relationship between Bill Gates and Jeffrey Epstein. I noted the source: NYTimes and I did observe that I am assuming the facts relayed in the story are true. Truth is hard to both find and confirm these days and one can’t be too careful.

Here was my point: Bill Gates could spend time with any person on this planet. Why would he even spend five minutes with Jeffrey Epstein post-conviction (he spent way more than five minutes on more than one occasion) and then donate to the now disgraced MIT lab Epstein supported, ride on Epstein’s plane (really?) and call Epstein’s lifestyle “intriguing” in an email, an observation attributed later to a reference to his home decor?

Other sources have now reiterated the story, and Gates has apologized. Gates apparently stopped contact personally with Epstein in 2014 but his staff remained in touch with Epstein into 2017.

What is equally shocking to me is the comment I got on LinkedIn asking why I was bashing Gates. Why was I making a link to Epstein from one home visit (there was more than one). Gates, the commentator stated, had donated millions, worked for noble causes, had a stable long term marriage and a pristine (my word) reputation. I (Karen) was needlessly lambasting an icon for non-existent or meaningless behavior. He said if I was right, he’d eat his words.

Now perhaps this commentator had just not read the news lately. If that’s the case, I provided links and suggested reading before commenting on the LinkedIn comment section. Is that even possible that one would comment without knowing the news stories swirling?

But, here’s the real point in my view and it is important: The commentator did not want to believe a good guy with good values could do a bad thing or two or three. We want to preserve our heroes. We do not want them messing directly or indirectly with pedophiles or, even worse, with youngsters. (Why was a 15 year old there with her mother with Epstein and Gates?) We want to believe the deeds of heroes are always upright, their time and money well spent and their values upheld day and night and night and day. We want that. Perhaps we even need to believe that for our sanity, for a sense of a world going right (not wrong).

But just look at how many “heroes” have fallen from grace of late (some redeemed and others stuck in their own hell or they have passed away): Cosby, Tiger, Paterno, Tyler Skaggs, Felicity Huffman, Kraft. The list is long. Add names yourselves from the news. Then, there are doctors who molest patients, priests who molest alter boys, scout leaders who molest their troop members, coaches who molest athletes on their teams, professors who molest students. Add all of these to the list. Need I go on? Yes, who should be a hero is a debatable topic.

The reality is we get disappointed daily. The frailty of human nature, while ubiquitous, catches us by surprise. We want to think our parents are saints and our spouses and partners and children are too. Who wants to believe deep down that their father was a murderer or an addict or a thief or an abuser? Who wants to believe their child hurts other children? Who wants to believe their spouse gave them venereal disease or is abusive verbally or physically?

And we want heroes; so we seem to turn a blind eye to bad behavior. We compartmentalize or disassociate or distance ourselves or simply ignore what is right there. We want people whose inside and outside worlds match — like twins.

Don’t I know, having trusted when trust wasn’t deserved? Don’t I know how badly we want bad people to be good and assume away flaws?

I didn’t bash Gates. He self-bashed. And the commentator would be wise to both eat his words and process how he was so wrong to slam another. Perhaps he can eat his hat too (if he has one) and apologize. Don’t get me started on why folks just can’t apologize.

Author, Educator & Commentator; Former President, Southern Vermont College; Former Senior Policy Advisor, US Dept. of Education; Former Law Professor

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