Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Pay Attention, America: These Are The Lessons Brett Kavanaugh Is Teaching Us

I have a friend who was raped and then had to fight off the psychiatrist she had sought out to help her deal with her trauma.  My friend's initial reaction to Donald Trump's then baffling victory in 2016 despite his considerable baggage, including the 15 women who say he sexually harassed them, was shock but not really surprise.  And two years on, deeply illuminating given L'affaire Brett Kavanaugh. 
"Even after all these years, my attackers' shadows are always there, always lurking over my shoulder," my friend told me the morning after Trump won.  Appropriately, it was raining hard.  "And now I'll have the shadow of the freaking president of the United States lurking over my shoulder." 
Beyond those shadows stalking my friend and millions of other victims of sexual assault, there have been so many awful things about the Republican jihad to reward a man with a lifetime appointment to the Supreme who not only is a practiced liar (and it now turns out a witness tamperer), but has been revealed without question to be a very mean drunk and sexual predator. 
Beyond the possibility that Kavanaugh may yet be confirmed, perhaps the most awful thing is that Kavanaugh's victims are being victimized again.  Then there are the lessons we can draw from this particularly brutal interlude in America's history.   
If we listen carefully and read between the lines, the biggest lesson is that this collision between the #MeToo Movement and the Republican War on Women, when stripped of its ornamentation, is nothing less than a battle royal between a nascent New Order and a sclerotic but still immensely powerful Old Order.  
These are some of the other lessons that Brett Kavanaugh is teaching us:
Charles Grassley, Lindsey Graham and the Predator in Chief believe that the pain, fear and trauma of Christine Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez and Kavanaugh's other victims are expressing does not matter because their voices, even at their strongest, are still weaker than any man's. 
The Old Order will prevail because the Republican overlords depend on it prevailing.  The overlords will protect the Old Order even when men behave badly, and always will believe those men before they believe women because their claims are merely concoctions to try to topple the Old Order.
It is okay to become falling down drunk and do impolite things to women.  It's part of growing up.  But if  men are called to account for youthful indiscretions, they are to deny them and the overlords will come to their defense.  And if the stakes are high enough, the overlords will testify to their integrity. 
While Donald Trump may have flaws (who doesn't regret a Tweet or two?), he is being victimized.  The overlords will stand by him, as do wise Republican women, as he defends the Old Order and has to endure a profound injustice visited upon him that is disguised as accountability.  
It is not true that none of this would be happening had Russia not stolen the election for Trump.   
Gender still would be a partisan political issue, but the Old Order and Republican overlords just would not be quite so obvious.  Racism would still be spreading its societal toxins, but not quite so blatantly in an era when our sick president long ago discarded his dog whistle and speaks his mind, including a grotesquely vile attack on Ford at a campaign-style rally in Mississippi on Tuesday night that was greeted with cheers.  Oh, and the credibility of the Supreme Court would be more or less safe, at least for a few more years as it clings to its shaky legitimacy. 
Meanwhile, of one thing we can be certain: The shadows stalking my friend and those millions of other victims aren't about to go away.    


Dan Leo said...

I look forward to your musings on the current front-page New York Times story about Trump's financial skullduggery...("Fake news!", ha ha.)

Susan Winters said...

It's not about the shadows hanging over me and the women of my generation, it's about the shadows hanging over my granddaughters. We, the children of the 60s all have shadows that are self inflicted as well as inflicted by others. Who can stand up and be 100% proud of what they were and did at age 17? The difference is that hopefully many of us have faced the previous errors of our ways and have atoned for them. The difference is that Kavanaugh refuses to acknowledge what he was and what he did. He lies about it in the interest of self promotion. That's what makes him so dangerous. And, unacceptable as a justice of any kind.

Carol said...

Agreed that we all have shadows and that acknowledging them is the difference. And then there's this about the present occupant of the Oval Office mocking Christine Blasey Ford: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/02/us/politics/trump-me-too.html?action=click&module=Top%20Stories&pgtype=Homepage

Shaun Mullen said...


You are quite right that the shadows will hang over your and my granddaughters, as well. I was remiss in not noting that. Thank you.

You do give me mild pause in bring up “atonement.” How does one atone for lapses in judgment at age 17? Become celibate? Forswear alcohol and drugs? That slope is way too slippery for me.