Isaac Kaplan

"Is it any wonder I've got too much time on my hands?"

Monday, May 15, 2006

Thoughts on Kolko

Those of you who have been following UOJ's blog know all about the ongoing allegations against Kolko. And those of you who don't can simply click the link and find out all the gory details.

- Do I think Kolko is guilty? Not yet. I would have to see what comes out from the pending lawsuit. If the victims win, or we see a Michael Jackson-like settlement, then I'll believe the guy is guilty. As of right now, I've gotta go with the old cliche of "innocent until proven guilty."

When the case first came up on UOJ's blog, I thought that Kolko was probably guilty. After all, let's say I had a bad rebbi. Years later, I might badmouth the guy, but would set out to destroy his life and reputation just because he was a jerk? No way. So I figured, if these guys are willing to accuse Kolko, chances are there's something to it.

But recently, I haven't been as sure. After all, many of the victims are finally piping up after decades of silence. Where were they till now?

Besides, according to numerous poskim, one can call the cops on someone who's a child abuser. (In fact, someone once followed this psak in a different situation, which caused a major controversy.) So why didn't any of these kids simply call 911 and put Kolko in an orange jumpsuit?

The answer might be, of course, that they got so freaked out by the threats of Kolko and Margolis that they've kept their mouths shut until now. Which leads me to my next point...

- If Kolko is guilty, then to me the real "rasha" in this case would have to be Margolis. If Kolko is guilty, the guy's a sick man. As much as his actions would anger me, part of me would have sympathy for a guy like him, who must have severe psychological issues to do what he did. But for Margolis to sit tight for 30 years without any effort to rectify the situation would simply be horrible. That would really make my emunas chachamim go down the tubes.

It brings to mind Watergate, where the issue wasn't so much the crimes that were committed, but mostly the cover-up. Same thing here.

- If Kolko's guilty, how much would that change the way things work in the Flatbush community? Not nearly enough, unfortunately. Temimah might have to close down, and I'm sure many yeshivos will do thorough background checking of prospective rabbeim. But otherwise, the system will run as always. The chareidim will still drink their kool-aid. The "frum apathetic" will continue not giving a damn and won't try to revolutionize the system. The UOJ-types are a rarity in Brooklyn. So, most likely the balance of power will still be what it is right now.

Now, what might happen is that the Kolko allegations spur off a domino effect of similar accusations. Or perhaps the blogosphere may be used to expose other latent crimes and illicit acts in the community. If this were to happen, it would be fascinating to see the effects on the Flatbush community. Or scary.

UPDATE: Turns out my good buddy Harry Maryles also discussed the issue. There's also a very disturbing New York magazine article about Kolko. After reading that article, it's harder to say Kolko is innocent. More to come on the whole matter.


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