On Friday, Senator Susan Collins (R., Maine), the last undecided Republican vote on embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, revealed that she’d vote in favor of his eventual confirmation.
During her historic 40-minute monologue on the Senate floor, she outlined her reasoning for doing so, citing her comprehensive review of his 12-year tenure as a federal judge, her belief that his election wouldn’t imperil the Affordable Care Act, as well as her decision to meet with the thousands of proponents and detractors of Kavanaugh within her constituency.
But as the world watched with bated breath, the coup de grâce came when she addressed Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s accusations directly: "I do not believe these charges can fairly prevent Judge Kavanaugh from fairly serving on the court," she said. “It is when passions are most inflamed, when fairness is most in jeopardy. I worry that departing from this presumption could lead to a lack of public faith in the judiciary and would be hugely damaging to the confirmation process moving forward."
It was in that exact moment that Judge Brett Kavanaugh became the latest bastion of blindingly white male privilege and hypocrisy. Otherwise known as a long-standing precept in which black men are married to our pasts, even if unrelated to our own victimhood, while our white counterparts are routinely afforded the luxury of dissociating themselves from their own, despite their role as a perpetrator. This is best exemplified in the deluge of prominent support that Kavanaugh received prior to his confirmation, in which his behavior was either minimized or outright dismissed as youthful folly.
45Committee, a political action committee linked to the Ricketts family – majority owners of the Chicago Cubs – funded a TV ad campaign lauding Kavanaugh’s “honor, integrity, and strong moral character.” And in its attempt to paint Kavanaugh as incapable of such reprehensible behavior, every participant in the $650,000 ad is a woman. Each of whom takes turns extolling his “compassion” and “moral compass” despite accusations to the contrary.
White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, herself a victim of sexual assault, unsurprisingly echoed a similar sentiment. She asserted on CBS This Morning that "This may be the first time we've heard allegations against someone as a teenager who did not prey upon women thusly as he became powerful." A blatant insinuation that Kavanaugh’s sins of the past should remain in the dark and have no bearing on his integrity as a Supreme Court justice.
Minnesota Senator Scott Newman further proved the “boys will be boys” train is never late, tweeting: “Even if true, teenagers!” While New York Times opinion editor Bari Weiss came under fire for her own remarks: “Let’s say he did this exactly as she said. Should the fact that a 17-year-old, presumably very drunk kid did this, should this be disqualifying?”
Also of note, evangelist Franklin Graham openly challenged the relevancy of Ford’s allegations. “It's just a shame that […] somebody can bring something up that he did as a teenager close to 40 years ago. That's not relevant,” he told CBN News. “We've got to look at a person's life and what they've done as an adult and are they qualified for this position, so this is just an attempt to smear him.”
But while many sought to divorce Kavanaugh from his past, it was our Commander-in-Chief who tapped into uncharted depths of hypocrisy. President Donald Trump, the same man who once spent $85,000 on full-page ads advocating for the death penalty for the Central Park Five, weaponized male victimhood in his latest “woe is men” spiel: "My whole life, I've heard you're innocent until proven guilty. But now you're guilty until proven innocent. […] I say that it's a very scary time for young men in America.”
As is typical of hypocrisy, it’s ironic to hear Trump contradict himself in touting due process. An irony that isn’t lost on Raymond Santana – more commonly known as one of the Central Park Five – who was falsely implicated of rape and assault in one of the most heavily publicized crimes of the 1980’s. “When I saw what he said, the first thing that came to my mind was he didn’t have that same energy for us,” Santana told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “We didn’t get that type of benefit. We 14-15-year old kids and you calling for the death penalty?”
But Trump has always proven himself to be preoccupied with his own agenda than that of the American people. “Think of your husband,” he pled later at a campaign rally in Mississippi. “Think of your sons.”
In his crusade to make America great again, how soon we forget that doing so often comes at the expense of black lives. And while the sons Trump has in mind likely resemble his own, others bear the brunt of police brutality and systemic oppression, as well as incurring the carnivorous wrath of a prison industrial complex that feeds off the flesh of black bodies.
However, it’s in the immediate aftermath of police shootings and other tragedies in which it’s unveiled just how closely Black men are conjoined to their pasts are. Regardless of how remote or irrelevant this information is to the circumstances surrounding their deaths.
On September 6th, 2018, off-duty Dallas patrol officer Amber Guyger entered the unlocked apartment of Botham Jean and gunned him down. In the immediate aftermath of Jean’s murder, despite his obvious standing as the victim, his reputation was deliberately tarnished on the day of his funeral. As the discovery of marijuana and related paraphernalia within his apartment was publicized by the media.