Op/Ed by George Cassidy Payne –
Rev. Dr. William Barber, as is his style and substance, puts it as frankly as one can. On Democracy Now he asked the audience to imagine for one moment that President Obama nominated an African-America or Latino male and a woman made accusations that he attempted to rape her when they were in high school. How would the Republican Party handle that? Would they not scream to high heaven for a complete investigation? Would they not only enlist the support of the FBI, but the CIA and NSA as well?
Race matters. The fact that Brett Kavanaugh is not a man of color is one reason why the majority of Republicans (mainly males) with massive economic and political power are willing to rush through this appointment without a proper investigation of Christine Blasey Ford’s accusation.
Because of his prestige, elite education, and yes, race, either they are willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, rationalize his behavior, or flat out dismiss the accuser for obvious gains. It matters that Kavanaugh went to Georgetown Prep, Yale Law School, and served as a U.S. Circuit Judge in the United States Court of Appeals in the District of Columbia Circuit.
But the reason the GOP is willing to rush this process, is because Kavanaugh looks and sounds like them. At the very least, they are able to imagine themselves in his position. Whether they believe him or not is irrelevant. They could have been him in whatever position he found himself in. The combination of juvenile hormones, consumable intoxicants, a sense of exceptionalism, parental cover, and a social license to sin boldly is a background that many of them are all too familiar with.
Race matters in this conversation. We must talk about it in a way that is serious. Are Democrats using this accusation as a tactic to delay the hearing? Of course they are. Some of them probably think this is their best shot to prevent Kavanaugh’s appointment. Some of them probably believe that Professor Ford should be heard and this is their best shot to prevent his appointment.
At the end of the day, it doesn’t really matter what the Democrats think. Dr. Ford came forward because she felt it was her duty to tell her Senator what happened. She never wanted this story to get out. It was leaked. The fact that Senator Dianne Fienstein did not betray her trust is not a sign of desperate politics but personal integrity.
Here’s the bottom line. The American people deserve to know what happened at that party. The American people deserve to know if their newest Supreme Court Justice is someone who has the ability to address his past with honesty and courage or if she is lying, mistaken, or something in between.
The American people deserve to have a process that honors the gravity of this accusation, as well as the risks Dr. Ford has taken by coming out. Unwilling as she was, her story is now part of the national narrative. Ford has a right to not only be heard, but to be seen fairly as believable. The only way that the American people will have an opportunity to assess her credibility is to have a professional investigation where the relevant participants can be interviewed.
There is much work to do now that this story has come to light. It is not work that Dr. Ford can do herself. It is not work that the Republican Party can do. It is not work that the Democrats can do. Only an organization such as the FBI has the clout, expertise, and jurisdiction to carry out such a task.
So here we are. This is a major turning point in our nation. It could be the October surprise a few weeks early. This is where all of the chips are put on the table. This one has it all. Race, gender, the Me Too Movement, the midterms, Trump and his ego, the due process of law, and the fate of a country teetering on the edge.
George Cassidy Payne is an independent writer, social justice activist, domestic violence counselor, and adjunct professor of philosophy. He lives and works in Rochester, NY.
(The views expressed on our opinion pages are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or viewpoint of the Minority Reporter.)