by Dot Hale
Crossposted from Arizona’s Politics Blog
Can a candidate for public office be viable today having also been a member of an organization that excludes and targets for violence people of a particular category? Most Americans now take it for granted that if you’re revealed to have worked with the KKK, you can no longer be under consideration for Congress or state legislature. So what do we think about politicians who have been affiliated with sexually violent fraternities?
There are, of course, fraternities built around academic honors as well as disciplinary or intellectual pursuits. Many social fraternities, moreover, sport records that are relatively benign. But others have earned reputations as petri dishes of sexual coercion and assault.
At the same time fraternities are incubators of U.S. political and economic power. According to a recent New York Times report, 74% of members of Congress have been fraternity members, along with 80% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies. 100 of the last 158 cabinet members and 40 of the last 47 Supreme Court justices have been members of fraternities. All of this in spite of the fact that only 2% of American men alive now have also belonged to fraternities.
One example of the downside of this trend comes in the form of Don Shooter of Yuma, Arizona, who was forced from the Arizona House of Representatives early in 2018 after five women accused him of sexual harassment. (Since his ejection from the AZ House, Shooter has launched a campaign for a seat in the Arizona Senate for the 13th Legislative District.) In the accounts offered by his accusers from the Arizona legislature, Shooter appears as the very incarnation of a certain predatory male sexuality. According to the report eventually submitted to the Arizona House of Representatives, Shooter would make regular and lewd remarks to his female colleagues, turn up unwontedly at the hotel rooms of these colleagues while on official governmental trips, and comment habitually upon various aspects of their anatomy.[i]