October 3, 2018; CNN Politics
Among the many responses to this cultural moment is a video from Rashad Robinson of Color of Change. Robinson breaks down the master (word used advisedly) narrative that is potentially under reconstruction after last Thursday’s Kavanaugh confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
We have already written about the hearing itself, but since then, we have all been subject to an array of reinforcer statements that are simply attempts to gaslight the public. Among other things, our president tweeted that Kavanaugh was something of a hero for owning up to his drinking problem as a young man (or boy, as he conveniently and situationally referred to himself). Kavanaugh, of course, made no such confession—in fact, that’s something he explicitly denied.
As Robinson points out, the burden of proof rests not on Kavanaugh, the person applying for one of the most prestigious jobs in the world, but on Ford, who had the audacity to call into question the moral authority of a powerful white man. Robinson points out how phrases that get tossed around carelessly in our dialogue, like “boys will be boys,” do great harm when they reinforce the idea that we can assign character traits and moral weight to someone based on their racial or gender identity rather than their deeds.
Among many other attempts to counter Dr. Ford’s compelling testimony, Trump tried his much-overused tactic of belittling Dr. Ford through mockery.
“I had one beer. Well, do you think it was—nope, it was one beer,” Trump said, mimicking Ford’s testimony last week to the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“How did you get home? I don’t remember. How’d you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know.”
Trump’s comments were met with laughter and applause from the crowd.
“I don’t know. I don’t know,” the President continued. “What neighborhood was it in? I don’t know. Where’s the house? I don’t know. Upstairs, downstairs—where was it? I don’t know—but I had one beer. That’s the only thing I remember.”
Though this appeared to cause some pushback even among the president’s adherents, we have seen that kind of meaningless verbal protest before when, for instance, Trump tried to normalize white supremacists in Charlottesville. Pieces like Rashad’s video need to be reinforced wherever we show up. Because the strength of a narrative is in its retelling by the many in all circumstances where it applies. Each of us is an agent in this struggle for a more equitable voice and place in this democracy. That is how democracy sustains and reforms. That is us.—Ruth McCambridge