Monday, October 8, 2018

Sons and Daughters

An article published on a right wing web site the other day began with this:
I have two sons. One is in his 20s, well on his way into adulthood. The other is 16 and, given the way the Brett Kavanaugh nomination process is headed, walking a tight rope between college preparation and jail. 
As President Donald Trump noted in recent comments about the runaway train called Supreme Court Nomination, it’s “a very scary time for young men in America.” 
Yes, it is. This is no joke. The sons of America are facing some dire straits.
Having a 17 year old son of my own, I know a little about parental concern for a young man about to become an adult. We've been blessed with a son who has a good sense of self-preservation and an understanding of the difference between right and wrong. We'd like to think the latter at least is partly a result of good parenting but perhaps we're giving ourselves too much credit. Suffice it to say, his good character is a blessing.

While I don't feel he's walking a tight rope between college preparation and jail, I still worry. I worry about his future. Of course I want him to be successful in whatever endeavor he chooses to pursue, but I also want him to develop meaningful relationships and to lead a happy life. On top of all that, my desire for him is to be a good person, empathetic, trustworthy and generous, the sort of person people admire for his integrity at least as much as for his professional acumen.

My boy is a pretty good student but has inherited his parents' tendency for day-dreaming which at times proves to be a challenge in school. Hopefully he'll be going off to college next year and I worry about things like how we'll pay for it, how he'll handle being away from home for the first time, how we'll handle him being gone, and how he'll do in school without his parents being around to give him that little push every now and then.

I worry about his safety. We live in a neighborhood where there is occasional gang violence. Every day I walk past a cross making the spot where a month ago, a young man who had just come to this city to study at Northwestern University was caught in the middle of gang crossfire and was killed.  Last week a masked man roaming around an adjacent neighborhood shot and killed two people for no apparent reason. At this writing he is still at large.

Like every parent who has ever cared about his or her kids from time immemorial, I worry constantly about my boy.

Given all that, I have to chuckle about the comment in the quote above about American teenage boys today facing dire straights because of the chance that someone in their future might concoct a cockamamie accusation that might harm them. I laugh because from every indication, the woman who wrote the article quoted above is white. I know this to be true because no black parent without a profound sense of irony would ever write that. The truth is that black people understand the real possibility that their sons might be falsely accused of committing a crime, often with dire consequences, as has been the case in this country for centuries. But typically for a white parent in this same country, that concern is a little like worrying that one day your son will be struck by lighting, possible, yes, but highly unlikely.

Unlikely that is unless your boy is the type of person given to tempting fate. If you walk around a golf course during a thunderstorm wearing metal spikes and swinging a metal golf club as the heart of the storm is directly overhead, you stand a much greater chance of being transformed into a pile of carbon dust, than if you don't. Likewise if you are a male high school or college student who blindly follows a hedonistic crowd who openly partakes in drunken debauchery and cares not a trace about decency, right and wrong, respect for women, or other people who are outside of their little clique, then years later claim you were just doing what everybody else did back in the day, you might stand a chance of finding yourself in the same position that Brett Kavanaugh found himself in last week.

Easy for me to say as I was something of an outsider during high school and college and avoided much of that collegial decadence. That's not to say in my life I never drank myself into a state of unconsciousness, or did things that I should never have done while in an altered state. That is precisely why I don't believe Kavanaugh's testimony during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings regarding his drinking, He said point blank under oath that while at times he drank to excess during his wild years, he was never beligerent, or ever drank so much that he passed out, two things several of his classmates at Yale and at Georgetown Prep vigorously deny.

As for his accuser, I can say that like her, I too have experienced traumatic acts as a victim of violent crime, and can recall certain details perfectly while forgetting trivial matters such as dates or how I got home. In other words, her testimony made perfect sense to me.

Does that mean I believe that Kavanaugh attempted to rape Christine Blasey Ford back when the two were in high school? Well let me just say this: only two people in the world know the truth about what happened that long ago night, (perhaps only one of the two since Kavanaugh may have been too drunk to remember), so all we have to go on is her word against his. In my book, her testimony was credible, while his had holes in it the size of the state of Texas.

That in itself does not mean he is guilty. Sexual assault cases, especially after a long period of time, seldom have corroborating evidence; typically they amount to one person’s word against another's. But it bears repeating over and over that Brett Kavanaugh was not on trial, he was interviewing for a job. A no vote on his confirmation was not a guilty verdict, it was simply expressing the belief held by perhaps one hundred million Americans, thousands of lawyers who make up the American Bar Association, forty eight senators, and one former Supreme Court Justice who happens to be a life long Republican, that Brett Kavanaugh’s sense of entitlement, his tantrums, his display of raw fury,  his disrespect for the confirmation process, his bending of the truth under oath, and above all, the political partisanship he displayed at his hearing, proved beyond a reasonable doubt in all those minds that guilty or innocent, his temperament makes him unqualified to sit on the Supreme Court.

Yet to listen to the Republicans who supported Kavanaigh's confirmation, you'd have thought he was the victim of a terrible injustice comparable to the Spanish Inquisition. Last night during a ceremonial swearing in ceremony at the White House, President Trump apologized to Kavanaugh for all the bumps in the road he faced during what turned out to be his successful confirmation:
Those who step forward to serve our country deserve a fair and dignified evaluation, not a campaign of political and personal destruction based on lies and deception,.. 
What happened to the Kavanaugh family violates every notion of fairness, decency and due process,..

(Everyone in this country) must always be presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty...
You, sir (speaking to Kavanaugh), under historic scrutiny, were proven innocent,
Those are all fine sentiments indeed, until you stop and think about them.

I suppose one could forgive the president for his obvious ignorance of the rules of evidence, due process, and the presumption of innocence outside of a court of law, because he is not a lawyer. On the other hand, the man standing right behind Trump’s right shoulder, Brett Kavanaugh, newly appointed into the Valhala of this country’s most esteemed lawyers, could have reminded the president for example that in no way did his hearings and the flaccid FBI investigation the president ordered, prove Kavanaugh's innocence. Maybe he just forgot to remind him.

As far as "fairness, decency and due process" are concerned, this is entirely new ground for Donald Trump. Just ask the Central Park Five.

Far more appalling than the president's pathetic lack of understanding of the rule of law is his claim that the accusations against  Kavanaugh were based upon "lies and deception."

He may not know squat about the law but Donald Trump does knows more than a little something about being accused of wrongdoing. Over twenty women of all political stripes have come forward to accuse him of sexual abuse. On top of that he is on tape not only admitting, but bragging about sexually assaulting women. Yet he vehemently denies any wrongdoing. He has publicly stated that every one of his women accusers is a liar, so it shouldn't come as a suprise that he is now calling Christine Blasey Ford a liar as well.

In Trump's world view, it is men who are the victims of feckless women, not the other way around. Here are his comments from above in their full context:
It's a very scary time for young men in America when you can be guilty of something you may not be guilty of. This is a very difficult time.
After he said that, Trump was confronted by a reporter who asked him if it is a difficult time for women as well. No, he said, "women are doing great."

Well Mr. President I have a little news for you. I also have a daughter. Because of that I can assure you that women in this country are not doing great. I have the same hopes and dreams for my daughter that I have for my son. I also have all the same worries and a few more. For starters, I worry that my daughter will be subject to the same kind of treatment that people like you have inflicted upon women. Believe me, it's a sad situation when I wouldn't allow the President of the United States to come within one hundred yards of my daughter any more than I would let any other self-proclaimed, unrepentant sexual predator. It really saddens me that my daughter sees the president of my beloved country and his Republican lackies caring so much about winning at any cost that they would not take the time to properly vet a candidate for the most important job in the nation, (yes even more important than yours Mr. President), who has had a very credible charge of a serious crime brought against him. And it sickens me to think that the biggest lesson my daughter has learned from you is that if a young woman like her dares to speak out about sexual abuse, she too could be publicly slandered, ridiculed, humiliated and laughed at by the President of the United States and the sorry people who blindly follow him.

But Mr. President there is cause for hope. You and all your white male Republican senators who couldn't contain their glee after winning this battle, are old and won't be around for long. There is a new generation of people who will take your place who don't necessarily believe that men have the privilege to treat women like cattle. Many of the new generation's leaders in fact are women. They and the fifty plus percent of the population who are also women will not forget your disrespectful and disgusting actions in regard to them over the past few weeks. Remember the march on Washington, the one with all the pink pussy hats that drew at least twice as many people as your inauguration? Believe me that's going to look like a walk in the park compared to what's coming.

True, Brett Kavanaugh is relatively young and could be on the Supreme Court for a long time. Of course one never knows how a justice will rule once he is on the bench. If he was sincere last night about not being as much of a partisan hack that he seemed to be during his confirmation hearings, maybe, just maybe he will contribute to rulings that will truly benefit the people of this country, not just the powers that be. Regardless, he will forever be under a microscope and as long as he sits on the bench, every vote of his will be closely scrutinized. If he upsets enough people, especially women by voting to take away rights they have held for decades, another, less friendly administration to him, probably one headed by a woman, could re-open his attempted rape case. Supreme Court justices can be impeached too you know.

Whatever happens with Kavanaugh, the tide is turning. For the past year, my daughter has proudly worn a tee shirt that proclaims "The Future is Female." It clerarly pisses off friends of ours who happen to support you. They don't say anything because I have the distinct feeling that deep down, they too begrudgingly believe it's true.     

Perhaps you're right about these being scary times for men. Everything that you and your cronies hate is about to come true. Maybe not in November, perhaps not even in 2020, but one day, thanks to you, old white men like us will become irrelevant in this country. You and your actions have emboldened the revolution. Remember the bit about hell having no fury like something or other? It's coming Mr. President; you've briefly put off the empowerment of women and minorities that you and your supporters are so fearful of, but it will rebound with a vengeance and there will be nothing you or your friends can do to stop it.

From the lion's share of women I know, my wife and all her friends, my daughter and her friends, my mother and her friends, from all my female colleagues, most of my friends, family, and female acquaintances, from just about every woman I have ever known in my life, I have a message they wish to convey to you Mr. President. That message is this:


You have left quite a mark, or perhaps more accurately, a stain on this country, one that thanks in large part to your noble efforts, will be washed out with the rest of the dirty laundry sooner than you can imagine.