Why are Democrats upset with Brett Kavanaugh?
Dispute over Kavanaugh appeal : The white man's immunity
On Thursday, the United States Senate Judiciary Committee heard Christine Blasey Ford and Brett Kavanaugh. Christine Blasey Ford is a psychology professor who lives in California. Brett Kavanaugh is Donald Trump's nominee for the highest judicial office. Blasey Ford accuses Kavanaugh of trying to rape her in the '80s, when they were both in high school in Maryland. Kavanaugh denies the allegations. On Friday after the hearing, the committee recommended that the Senate confirm the candidate - on condition that the FBI investigate the case, which Donald Trump immediately ordered.
What can be summed up so soberly is a political and social drama of historical proportions. Two struggles have overlapped and intensified each other in the last few weeks and culminated in the Kavanaugh hearing on Thursday: the struggle for the legacy of the #MeToo movement, which is the beginning of these days, and the crippling political camp war between Democrats and Republicans . It is the United States' struggle with itself and with political and social reality: How civilized or how anarchic is the United States?
Both the political camp struggle and the resulting Trump presidency as well as the feminist movement #MeToo stand for the realization that civilizational progress believed to be safe was only sham victories. The massive sexual violence so many women talked about last year took place in a country that pays attention to politically correct language like no other, where an army of lawyers is always ready to represent women in civil suits. At the same time, a stammering narcissist suddenly rules without affect control. According to research by journalist Bob Woodward, his advisors are only able to keep him from his insane ideas with great effort.
A thin layer of civilization
Donald Trump is a misogynist president who, like hardly anyone else, has spoken publicly disparagingly about women. The civilizational layer above the seething violence, irrationality and political extremes suddenly seems thin, fragile, even permeable.
Thursday evening's hearing became a symbol of that sentiment. It was strangely excruciating, almost unbearable. Everyone involved fought for their position: Christine Blasey Ford suppressed tears. Brett Kavanaugh's face twitched and worked. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham gave free rein to his anger. Again and again, anger and tears briefly surfaced. It was eight hours of constant near-bursting.
The hatred in the corner of the mouth stood in stark contrast to the setting: a narrow, windowless room in which everyone adhered to speaking times and protocol conventions. Something immensely primal was held together with great difficulty by the constraints of institutional and social customs. At the same time, it was precisely the compulsion of the institution that made the conflicts appear glaring and explosive and aroused a self-contradicting claustrophobic fear of losing control.
The story of Blasey Ford itself also stands for doubts about the reality of the civilized. The scenes she describes take place in the affluent suburbs of Washington, in expensive private schools that train the country's future elite. It's a world where houses are surrounded by large, perfectly manicured lawns. Behind these bourgeois façades, the hearing now brings out boundless parties and beer-misty scenes of violence - and a male elite who boastfully reminded each other in the high school yearbook that they were among the “alumni” of a certain girl.
Progressives are also bitter
After this hearing, many now ask: has anything changed since then? How much can #MeToo change? Can a fair dispute even succeed in this polarized country? "You want a fair trial?" Senator Lindsey Graham asked Brett Kavanaugh sarcastically. “Then you came to the wrong city at the wrong time.” Progressive voices are also bitter after the hearing. In “New Yorker” the journalist Doreen St. Félix wrote: The next year will also be “a year of men”.
Indeed, Brett Kavanaugh shows how deeply rooted some white men's sense of immunity is. For a long time Kavanaugh suppressed the anger of a privileged man whose life's work crumbled under his fingers, a surprised, astonishingly helpless and astonishingly uncontrolled anger. He repeatedly invoked his “good name”, his “work in the service of the general public, at the highest levels of government” - as if that freed him from the obligation to deal with the allegations. “If you're a star,” Donald Trump said in a 2005 soundtrack that went public during the campaign, “let you do it. You can do everything. Grab 'em by the pussy. "He was, as is well known, chosen.
And yet the hearing also shows how much #MeToo has already changed. A look at the comparable case from 1991, which was quoted repeatedly in the run-up to the Kavanaugh hearing, is sufficient. It was about the confirmation of the Republican judge candidate Clarence Thomas. His then colleague Anita Hill testified that he had asked her if she would like to go out with him, which she refused, but then directed conversations again and again towards sex. He described scenes from pornographic films, for example. At the hearing, Senator Howell Heflin asked Anita Hill, "Are you a scorned woman?" As recently as 1991, it was possible to dismiss a woman accused of sexual harassment as a prude.
America's wrestling with itself
It's different today. The Republican senators, fearing the memory of Anita Hill, had a district attorney ask the questions. Only Republican Senator Lindsey Graham made the anger of the white men visible: "I am a single white man from North Carolina," he raged. “I was told to shut up. But I won't shut up. "
This American wrestling with oneself is an open one. The Kavanaugh hearing momentum is depressing and hopeful at the same time. On Friday, Republican Senator Jeff Flake announced that he would vote for Kavanaugh. Flake was seen as a possible no-vote in his camp, he is a moderate Republican who will give up his Senate seat under pressure from Trumpists in his own party.
But then two activists, victims of sexual violence, put him in the elevator. In a spontaneous tribunal recorded by CNN, they asked Jeff Flake to explain himself. A few hours later, the senator announced that he would only agree on the condition that the FBI investigated.
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