Bruce Thornton is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
During the hearings on the nomination of Justice Kavanaugh, the Democrats’ vile tactics and lust for power were widely exposed. Though Kavanaugh’s confirmation thwarted the Dems aggression, that victory should be the catalyst for a wholesale rejection of the leftist and identity politics narratives that too many Republicans accept and even practice. The first step to recovering our political health is to purge our public discourse of the illiberal and ideologically loaded ideas, and the language that assumes they are the moral norm.
During the hearings we saw Republicans ceding legitimacy to feminist ideology the minute Christine Ford appeared. The circumstances of her charges being made public at that particular moment were suspect enough to sow doubt about her claims and the propriety of giving her a public forum. It was suspiciously convenient that Ford’s charges regarding an event 36 years ago were made public six years after she revealed them to a therapist, that Dianne Feinstein sat on them for six weeks, and that they were leaked at the moment Kavanaugh’s confirmation appeared certain.
What was it Goldfinger said about chance events? Once is happenstance, twice is coincidence, the third time is enemy action. If the Democrats were on the up-and-up, they would have had Ford, allegedly anxious about protecting her privacy, give testimony to the committee in camera. Even a dull Occam’s Razor could detect the self-serving, partisan machinations behind Ford’s testimony.
But the Republicans reflexively went into a defensive crouch to avoid charges of sexism and insensitivity to the alleged epidemic of sexual assault, now redefined to include a decades-old encounter the details of which were all a blur except for the perpetrator’s name, which happened to be that of the nominee to the Supreme Court whom Democrats had already publicly rejected and sworn to derail.
“But Ford must be heard!” we were told by screeching protestors and George Soros hirelings. So, the Republicans gave her a public platform to slander a man based on charges for which she had no evidence. Indeed, not just “heard,” but treated with the delicate compassion usually reserved for proven victims of a serious crime. Forget the gaps and lapses and general vagueness of her recollections, Senators had to say her dubious tale was “credible” and “convincing,” and had to show empathy and apologize for her suffering and pain even though there were no proven facts to make her story “credible” and thus worthy of such solicitude.
But the concessions weren’t over. Ford deserved not just to tell her story, unsupported by verifiable facts, but have it televised to the whole country with breathless media commentary, and a chorus of howling protestors physically intimidating Senators and their staffs. The result was the grotesque spectacle of the elected representatives of the world’s most powerful country parsing and obsessing over 36-year-old memories of a teen-age party, the exact rules of a high school drinking game, and the linguistic nuances of the word “boofing.”
Xi and Vlad and Khamenei were probably ROTFLTAO.
But let’s not downplay the seriousness of this farce. Notice the chain of appeasement set off by that first decision to accept the #MeToo narrative that claims of unproven sexual assault “must be heard.” Not, “vetted for plausibility and substantiated by evidence,” but heard simply because Ford claimed that an assault happened and it ruined her life. Next came “victims must be believed.” This further emboldened the Dems into shamelessly discarding due process and the presumption of innocence, since those venerable legal principles cannot be reconciled with the obligation to believe an accusation merely because it is made.
Having yielded to that unjust premise, the Committee saw new accusers sprout up, each with tales as preposterous as the charges in the Eighties about Satanic rituals and sexual abuse coached out of preschoolers. Unconcerned with fact or decency, the Dems pressed on, hoping that the cumulative effect of these charges would damage Kavanaugh enough that the Republicans––dreading the media sicarios, and worried over the lost votes of unmarried, college-age females unlikely to vote Republican––would cry uncle and throw Kavanaugh under the bus.
Fortunately, at this point the Republicans rediscovered their nerve and put an end to the daisy-chain of appeasement. The extra week for more FBI investigation appeared at first yet another concession. But the firm time limit put on it, the cover the investigation gave to wavering Senators, and the bonus of letting we the people see the Democrats get what they wanted, and then like fit-pitching kiddies immediately demand more––all revealed tactical shrewdness.
Despite that success, Republicans still displayed fear in the face of the duplicitous feminist narrative, and in part were save by the Democrats’ hubris and stupidity. I can understand the Senators’ calculations. The cost for standing on principle would be the loss of support from squishy Republican Senators, and the further entrenchment of the Dems’ favorite meme of conservative misogyny and sexism. And such calculations were probably right.
But at some point, Republicans have to test this clichéd analysis of how women think and vote. They should stand on principle, not politics, and then see just how many actual women voters are down with being bullied into accepting as gospel truth unsubstantiated accusations. Millions of those women have fathers, husbands, sons, and brothers they don’t want to see publicly pilloried as a wannabe rapist. How many of them are tired of having the progressive media and feminist know-it-alls tell them what and how they should think? How many have had enough of being patronized and talked down to by feminist punks and bullies whose whole understanding of life comes from a Women’s Studies course?
Particularly after Donald Trump spectacularly exploded a warehouse of received wisdom about which demographics are reliably Democrat, the time might be ripe for another test of electoral orthodoxy.
Be that as it may, now’s the time to maintain that recovered nerve, and make it clear that the whole “women must be believed” assumption is morally and legally idiotic. Unsubstantiated claims will no longer be recognized in our political processes. Nor will we take seriously the hoary feminist fairy tale that men are poisoned with “toxic masculinity” and a feral sexuality that only the state––not virtue, not families, not faith, not a culture of restraint and respect for women––can control. And no longer will we accept that women, programmed by the “patriarchy” to “silence” and “submission,” are so frail and delicate that they must be unquestionably supported in speaking “their” truth without pesky details like the preponderance of evidence or the presumption of innocence or due process.
The simple truth is that neither justice nor logic requires us to give automatic credence to a charge absent evidence that establishes guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Period. No matter how emotional or moving the alleged victim, the charge still requires evidence and a coherent presentation of all pertinent facts before a judgment can be made. Nor are we morally compelled to cosset and stroke and soothe someone bringing an unsubstantiated slanderous charge that comes down to her word against his – especially an accusation obviously part of a partisan plot to besmirch and befoul a highly qualified and respected Supreme Court nominee just to keep him from taking a seat on the highest court in the land.
We don’t and can’t know if Ford told the truth about being assaulted by someone at some time. But that doesn’t matter, because as citizens in a participatory democracy, the only events we should take into account are ones that the evidence shows beyond a reasonable doubt actually happened. Tending to the accuser’s feelings and emotions and offering therapeutic solace aren’t our jobs or the business of the public square. It’s her family’s and friends’ and therapist’s jobs. As such, those feelings and accusations should have no part in a public political process.
But, of course, the Dems’ vicious demagoguery is nothing new. Every critic of democracy since Socrates has accused the people of being too easily swayed by the manipulative and duplicitous rhetoric of demagogues, who appeal to passions and greed in order to win support and power. Our republic as well has a long history of similar demagoguery. The spectacle of the Kavanaugh hearings will surely earn a place in the demagogic role of dishonor. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t move on to resisting and attacking and mocking the illiberal, tyrannical feminist narrative and its Orwellian glossary. And more important, we should stop legitimizing it by using its dishonest language, and deferring to its ideological assumptions.