Written By: - Date published: 1:05 pm, October 13th, 2018 - 80 comments
Categories: Abuse of power, accountability, culture, Ethics, International, patriarchy, Politics, Social issues, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, us politics - Tags: Kavanaugh, power, privilege
There’s been a fair bit of sometimes nasty back and forth over Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court appointment. But the bit I’m not quite understanding is the apparent propensity of some people to believe that the better among us will tend to rise to positions of high office. The suggestion fueled by that belief – that Kavanaugh’s not fit to be a Supreme Court Judge – strikes me as painfully naive.
Our political, economic and legal systems are based on some downright awful notions of racial and gender superiority.
As Naomi Klein has noted in a fairly wide ranging piece at The Intercept that I’d urge be read in full –
Colonial savagery and land theft required the doctrine of discovery, manifest destiny, terra nullius, and other expressions of Christian and European supremacy. […] Patriarchy and the subjugation of women required an architecture of yet more pseudoscientific theories about female intellectual inferiority and emotionality.
What in god’s name possesses anyone to think that good people will percolate to the top of political and judicial systems that are rooted in that?
As Klein further notes, a liberal context all too easily translates to a story line at the individual level that insists
success does not come because you [are] showered with privilege. You [are] showered with privileges because you are better.
In other words and in short, Kavanaugh is powerful, and therefor Kavanaugh is correct. Ford is not as powerful, and the degree of irrelevance afforded her and her experiences is largely determined by her relationship to power. That’s about where it begins and ends. Call it the immunity or impunity of power and privilege – but whatever Kavanaugh did or didn’t do in his past, the salient point is that he never got caught for any of it, or if he did, he managed to use his relative power and privilege to slip the hook.
Someone should have given Christine Ford a heads-up on “the ways of the world” and disavowed her of any notion that systems given to celebrating power might react positively to the ethical suggestion of giving a shit about right or wrong, or of caring about injuries visited on less powerful people by more powerful people.
Even a cursory glance to 2011 and (rehabilitated?) Strauss-Kahn – the general and largely successful attempts to undermine the integrity of a powerless person seeking redress for abuse suffered at the hands of a powerful person could, should or might have been enough for Ford to have at least prepared herself for the stone wall she was almost inevitably heading towards.
And if not that, then maybe she could have picked up a pointer from the case of “poor pampered” Ethan Couch who was somewhat successful in deploying a defence of ‘affluenza’ against manslaughter charges in 2013.
Sadly, Ford’s world view isn’t a view of the world we live in; is not the world maintained by our labours.
Kavanaugh isn’t some rotten apple spoiling a barrel. Kavanaugh is just another apple in a barrel of rot. And to extend the analogy, just as a corpse won’t be made vital by the application of potions and the chanting of incantations, so this world won’t be made better by way of wishful thinking and incremental reform.
When it comes to putrefaction, there are only a few limited options beyond stating the olfactory obvious.