I know that I promised to tackle individual makeover projects today, but something else is bubbling in our society that I feel compelled to address. If you really want Makeover Mondays to become a thing, leave me a comment. But, let’s be real, only like two of you are reading this post anyway. Therefore, I can basically write whatever I want, and today I feel a little bullied. Okay, here’s the situation…
Honey and I were in the Explosive Performance room of our gym with one other guy. On the t.v., two football players greeted each other by rubbing their bushy beards together.
“Eww, gross.” I said. “Get a room.”
As the words were spilling from my lips, I turned to catch the eye of the guy working out alongside us. His face scrunched up like I had just farted on a lemon and shoved it into his mouth. “What’s up with him?” I thought as I leaned back to start my set. Then it dawned on me that he must have assumed I was being homophobic.
I had a flash of mixed emotions. On the one hand, I was proud that we have begun to make intolerance taboo. Good on you, Friend, for having the courage to increase our standards for human decency. On the other hand, I was offended. He misinterpreted my disgust of sweaty beard swabbing for homophobia, though he knew nothing about me. (For the record, I am an equal opportunity PDA hater.) Not only that, he felt emboldened enough to communicate his disapproval by giving me the facial equivalent of the middle finger. Part of me wondered whether or not his reaction would have been the same if I were someone he deemed superior or a fellow White male. The last query sat with me for a while, but I eventually shrugged it off.
Then, America lost her shit as details emerged about the alleged assault by a drunken 17 year-old Kavanaugh against 15 year-old Ford. I withheld judgement, because I originally thought they could both be telling the truth. It seemed plausible that she could have remembered this traumatic event, which left an indelible imprint on her psyche, AND he could have easily forgotten it as another night of partying, the details of which he had no recollection.
I believed that…until I saw Kavanaugh’s interview on Fox. First of all, going on a right-winged network to paint yourself as an innocent victim appears less like a good man trying to clear his name and more like a political ploy to drum up support from the Republican base. If his only goal was to address character attacks, he could have chosen a more moderate, unbiased network. Nope. I wasn’t buying the choir boy act. Still, I did not automatically assume he was a liar. He was lying, but I didn’t have all of the evidence at that point.
Like many Americans, I watched the hearings unfold on my tablet and listened on my car radio while I carried on with my daily routine. I listened to Mrs. Ford and I believed her. Honestly, I believed her before the hearings, but listening to her answer questions solidified my conviction that she was telling the truth as she recalled it. Then again, it was possible that she could have concocted an elaborate plan over several years to defame and discredit Brett Kavanaugh as revenge for some previous beef. She is a professor of psychology. If anyone could pull off a “Gone Girl” act (playing on the public emotion and prejudices to frame someone), she most definitely has the equipment to do it. But, nah, I believe her.
I couldn’t say the same about Brett. His emotional testimony could have been the result of a man distraught by character assassins hell-bent on sullying his good name. It’s understandable that someone would be angry and tearful under those circumstances. However, his ire appeared to be more that of a privileged man, who was enraged by the idea that his appointment to the SCOTUS hinged on perfectly acceptable “boys will be boys” behavior decades ago. He seemed to think that he was being unfairly targeted for something that they all did back then.
Besides, he “busted (his) butt” and “worked (his) tail off” to get where he is today. Kavanaugh insisted on repeating the false narrative of meritocracy that Americans salivate over. He got to the Supreme Court by pulling himself up by his bootstraps and working hard. Never mind the fact that he started out in some of the most prestigious private schools in the nation. Never mind the truth that his grandfather attended Yale, which probably had A LOT to do with him getting accepted. Never mind the fact that he is supposed to make decisions for tens of millions of Americans whose viewpoints he chooses not to try to comprehend.
Nevertheless, that does not discredit anyone who has anything favorable to say about the man. I live inside the beltway (which is a smaller community than many know), and I can tell you that this place is like a bubble. More accurately, it’s like a series of mini bubbles inside a greater DMV bubble. My daughter plays basketball for an organization that scrimmages against teams from his daughter’s basketball organization. I admire any man or woman that has the patience and courage to coach for these organizations. The competition is fierce, and AAU parents are demanding. I can admire his dedication to coaching at the same time as I scrutinize his faulty judgement. He can be a wonderful person in one regard and simultaneously an ass in another. People are complicated like that.
Unfortunately, the complexity of humanity is becoming a bygone concept. You are either a Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, pro-choice or anti-abortion, and selecting one automatically dictates your stance on the others.
When Lindsey Graham spewed his outrage over what he saw as a sham process to discredit Kavanaugh, I believed him. Wait! Put down your pitchforks, and hear me out. Everything in Graham’s life and past interactions with the SCOTUS nominee told him that this was a good man and someone from the Democratic party leaked the scandal. He could not fathom a reality, in which a Republican female leaked the existence of a sexual assault allegation to call attention to an impending confirmation that could effectively strip her of her right to preside over her own health. He could not imagine that a Republican man leaked it to play into the notion of the victimized White man mentality that would surely vilify Democrats and energize sympathetic males to vote red in the upcoming elections. In his mind, the only possible rationale was that it was a Democratic ambush. I’m not saying that it wasn’t. I am simply stating the FACT that no one aside from the journalists and individual(s) involved know who leaked the story. Either of the aforementioned motives are plausible. And, if proven to be true, highly effective. I respect your (hypothetical) ganster Republican leaker.
Graham’s short-sidedness is both ironic and problematic. He cannot understand the irony of his exclamation “I hope the American people can see through this sham,” a ploy utilized to hijack headlines and stir emotional outrage. I agree with his ironic statement. I think the Republicans ultimately have much more to gain from the leak than the Democrats, so I can see it being a sham they concocted. Piss off Republicans, so they go to the polls to quell the Blue Tsunami, and piss off the Democrats, so they are disheartened by their unethical politicians and stay home. But don’t spread that as a truth. It’s just my wild imagination drawing together conspiracy theories.
Graham also dismissed the notion that Kavanaugh was capable of committing the attack because his persona doesn’t fit Graham’s definition of a sexual deviant. According to his “understanding” people who drug and rape women for two years and then stop don’t exist. There is no room in his world for a guy like Brett Kavanaugh to act like “Bill Cosby” while intoxicated at parties then go on to become a well-respected lawyer and judge. Without intending to, Graham projected his feelings about himself onto Kavanaugh. He could relate to this guy as a peer, someone like himself, so he took the allegations as a personal affront. Just another case of the Libtards hating on the White man, America!
Kavanaugh banked on people ascribing their own prejudices onto him, so he lied. He contradicted any evidence that painted him as a sexually aware, frat boy with a drinking problem. Not only did he lie, he evaded questions and grew belligerent when pressed further for direct responses. This man showed open hostility toward democratic enators and dismissed the allegations as revenge for their defeat in the 2016 presidential race and punishment for his part in the Clinton impeachment investigation. Yet, we are supposed to believe he would have the ability to rise above partisan politics to deliver a fair, impartial judgement on cases that come before him. Riiight.
As a judge, he understands the ramifications of lying under oath, yet he lied. He may have been motivated by embarrassment or the idea that his past should not dictate his ability to serve. It would have been understandable had he been forthcoming about his drinking and childish boasting, about sexual conquests that didn’t happen, while categorically denying the allegations. I would have been inclined to believe he simply didn’t remember those events, and by the standards of the man he has become, he did not consider himself capable of committing the assault even while inebriated. Instead, he lied and tried to mislead the senators. One may argue that the question should have never been asked (as was the case with Clinton), but it was. He should not have lied about his past if there was nothing else to hide.
The ability to be impartial is predicated on one’s willingness to step outside of oneself to view the entire picture. You cannot evaluate and analyze as much from an emic (within the group) perspective as you can from the etic (outside the group) standpoint. Alternatively, a deeper understanding of a culture results from an emic versus etic perspective. The ability to recognize the benefits and limitations of both is a quality that we are losing in America. It is also a quality that we desperately need to exist in the character make-up of those men and women we ask to provide a voice to the hegemonic populations as well as the disenfranchised and outlying groups.
We have become a nation of a few righteous bullies while the majority remains silent, afraid of the backlash we’d welcome if we voice any opposition. We fail to disassociate ourselves from labels or challenge our viewpoints when presented with facts. We are spreading gossip and rumors without any sources to corroborate our information. Worst of all, we are slamming and attacking the people, not the politics, behind positions with which we disagree. We have devolved into a bunch of moody teens slandering each other simply because we are stuck inside our own bubbles.
I once told my son not to be alone with a girl who liked him, because she could accuse him of anything once she realized that her affections were not returned. This is a reality that mothers of sons face. That doesn’t mean that Brett Kavanaugh is being falsely accused. I cautioned my daughters to be aware of their surroundings at all times to avoid being placed in situations where they could be compromised. This is a reality that mothers of daughters face. That doesn’t mean that Christine Blasey Ford, or any victim of sexual assault, is EVER responsible for the actions of her assailant. I am fully aware that life inside my bubble seems different from life inside your bubble. Therefore, I am able to code-switch to communicate with rich and poor, men and women, Black and White, Americans and international friends.
Have we collectively lost our ability to extend a modicum of human respect to anyone outside our own bubbles? Are we now so entrenched in our beliefs that we cannot appreciate the humanity in another person? Do we not agree that people, regardless of their socioeconomic affiliations, deserve empathy on some level? We are traveling a dangerous path in America. It is imperative that we look to leaders (and judges) who can view our nation in totality, not only from the perspectives inside their bubbles.
Yes, Friend, speak out when you believe someone is committing an injustice against a person or group of people. At the same time, understand that you may not have all of the facts. If you are intolerant in your noble quest for an egalitarian society, you may actually become the self-righteous bully.