Wednesday, March 22, 2006

# Posted 9:38 PM by Patrick Porter  

NOW THAT'S WHAT I CALL ATONEMENT: British Minister John Profumo resigned his ministry and seat in the British Parliament in 1963. It had emerged that he had been having sex with a woman who was also having sex with the Soviet naval attache. Apparently, he never passed on information to the woman that might have compromised national security. And a few days later, at least according to the Weekly Standard, he began charitable work without any public self-aggrandisement:
Profumo turned up a few days later at Toynbee Hall, a charitable institution serving the poor and disadvantaged in London's East End, asking to help clean up. For the next four decades he deployed his considerable skills to raise funds and dramatically expand Toynbee Hall's social services while remaining resolutely silent about the events which had ended his promising political career.

No self-pitying memoir, no public recrimination, no ex post facto justification, no testing the electoral waters, not even a slot on a TV reality show. Just the quiet, and immensely dignified, determination to redeem himself for conduct that, to contemporary eyes, must look comparatively benign.
True charity is not puffed up. He also fought Nazis in North Africa, was mentioned in dispatches, then fought in Normandy and then against Italian fascists in Italy, for which he was awarded an OBE. A tragedy that a man who did us all some service had his reputation tainted by a few weeks of silly sex. He didn't even think to write a tedious, 1000 page autobiography.
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