Something Needs to Change
Kavanaugh’s nomination is not the end
As some of you may well know, I’ve followed the Kavanaugh nomination extensively over the course of the past few weeks. The twists, turns, and revelations reminded of the O.J. Simpson case, which I viewed as dramatization over the summer with my Dad and brothers. Just as that case polarized the country along familiar lines, the Kavanaugh hearing repeated history in that regard. This episode in American history stands out as distinctly different, as the stakes for our country’s future were significantly higher.
Both sides of the aisle have valid arguments. Kavanaugh’s hearing was by no means a criminal trial, while some incorrectly treated it as such. Boiled down to a simple point, the judge’s hearing was a job interview, one broadcast to the nation and to the world. I do agree with the point regarding presumption of guilt. Our country’s foundation stands upon innocence until proven guilty, and Kavanaugh was not proven guilty of any crime during the hearing. To me, those points remain convincing. While Kavanaugh’s stance on executive power causes me to pause with unease, I believe his prior job experience made him a qualified judge for the bench before the hearing.
However, far too many facets of Judge Kavanaugh’s character to me remain alarming, concerning and even repulsive. To begin, Kavanaugh’s defense against the allegations leveled against him by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford demonstrated the judge’s inability to remain impartial, collected and coherent. To me, Kavanaugh appeared unable to contain strong emotions, exhibited a tendency to quickly arrive at conclusions, and in a crucial moment, demonstrated an inability to rationally view the other side of the argument. A judge should retain qualities which society aspires to: tact, understanding, humility, patience, and most importantly, compassion. Kavanaugh possessed none of those qualities when displaying the response to Ford’s statements. If this human being cannot possess such traits so early in the process, there is no evidence that Kavanaugh will do the same on the Supreme Court bench.
As a vicious partisan debate swirled around the hearing throughout the past few weeks; one line of rhetoric stood out as particularly troubling. Certain leaders, outlets, men and women argued that these women conjured narratives out of thin air; that the accusations of sexual assault were completely fabricated. This plotline is horrific. Over the course of my life, especially at Christopher Newport University, I’ve learned how sexual assault damages survivors in all aspects of their lives: physically, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. Women do not, for the fun of it, make up such traumatic experiences to potentially expose themselves to widespread vicious criticism and scorn. Would a honored veteran make up an experience which led to PTSD? Would a wide-eyed child make up a story about domestic violence? Rosemary Trible, beloved wife of CNU President Paul Trible, was sexually assaulted as a young woman. Women and men at my university take steps daily to prevent sexual violence on our campus and I sincerely hope the nation and world follows.
I believe Ford, I believe Deborah Ramirez and I believe Julie Swetnick. I said in a similarly worded statement regarding last year’s hate march in my hometown of Charlottesville, I will be bringing change to this country in the way that I can: my right to vote. Please, for the sake of this country and democracy, vote.
It is no understatement to say that every vote counts, so exercise your right which Americans have been continually fighting for in every conflict since the American Revolution.
Our nation declines when its citizens sit idle and unengaged. It is your duty as a productive member of society and as a global citizen to vote, to bring change and restore hope.
Slap in the face to survivors
The appointment of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the United States was a step backwards in time for sexual assault survivors everywhere. For many, the accusations surrounding his appointment, brought to national attention by the testimony of Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, brought up traumatic memories dredged in the backs of their minds of horrendous experiences they have been trying to heal from and forget about. The fact that someone accused of such things could be appointed to such a prestigious position regardless of the claims against him is a slap in the face to sexual assault survivors not only in America, but around the world.
Ford, though undoubtedly shaken by the hearing in general, kept her composure while testifying against Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh and Senator Graham, on the other hand, lost their tempers in an attempt to defend Kavanaugh. If a woman, especially Ford, had behaved in such a way, she would have been called hysterical, hormonal or other terms of that nature.
Many Republicans, including Kavanaugh himself, believe that Ford’s coming forward was a Democratic ploy to cause voters to question Kavanaugh’s credibility. They also claim that Ford’s lack of memory about specific details of the event means that she wasn’t really assaulted. If she had been, if it was such a horrific incident, she would have remembered everything that happened. However, trauma affects the brain irreversibly, causing memory loss and other effects that can change a person forever.
Kavanaugh did not initially want a full FBI investigation of the charges because he claimed that they do not “reach conclusions.” Senator Durbin offered that if Ford’s charges were false, then Kavanaugh should be okay with the idea of a full FBI investigation to clear his name for good because no evidence of the crime would be found if he was innocent. Kavanaugh refuted this by claiming over and over again that “the FBI does not reach conclusions.” If Kavanaugh is really innocent, wouldn’t he have immediately agreed to an full-scale investigation to prove it?
Kavanaugh’s appointment to the Supreme Court proves that sexual assault cases are not taken seriously enough. So many voters are biased simply because of the party they align themselves with – for example, many Republicans believe that “Kavanaugh is Republican too, which means he’ll support my viewpoints if we elect him,” so they vote for people like him. They look past issues such as Ford’s accusations in favor of what Kavanaugh could do for America through his new position as a Supreme Court Justice. The very idea that these accusations were made and that Kavanaugh’s nomination went through anyway calls to mind serious questions about what voters justify. With so many being elected to positions of power despite sexual assault allegations, where do we as Americans, as human beings, and as voters draw the line? What do we think is okay in our country?
The fact of the matter is that sexual assault needs to be taken more seriously in America, especially when nominating the accused to positions of power. Whether or not Kavanaugh is truly guilty of assaulting Ford, Americans need to look more closely at who they are voting into office and decide for themselves what kind of people we want representing our country.