©Wendell Griffen, 2018
Justice Is a Verb!
September 27, 2018
As President Donald Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, and Republican members of the Senate Judiciary Committee go through the motions surrounding the sexual assault and other allegations against Judge Brett Kavanaugh, I invite you to recall the Old Testament account concerning Tamar.
According to 2 Samuel 13, Tamar was “a beautiful sister” of Absalom, King David’s second son. She was also half-sister to Amnon, King David’s first son. Amnon raped Tamar. At 2 Samuel 13:21, we read that King David refused to punish Amnon because “he loved him, for he was his firstborn,” meaning the crown prince. 2 Samuel 13 offers important lessons about patriarchy, male privilege, objectification of women, and the ways powerful men mistreat victims of sexual assault.
Judge Brett Kavanaugh denies that he sexually assaulted Dr. Christine Blassy Ford when they were teenagers. He denies that he was present along with Mark Judge (his college roommate) when young women were plied with alcohol and sexually assaulted by other men. He denies that he engaged in offensive sexual conduct toward women at all. Then what makes the Old Testament lesson about Tamar relevant to Judge Kavanaugh’s confirmation?
Like Tamar, Dr. Ford and the other women who accuse Judge Kavanaugh of sexual violence have been maligned by powerful men who are determined to shield Judge Kavanaugh. President Trump, Majority Leader McConnell, Judiciary Chairman Grassley, and Republican members on the Senate Judiciary Committee seem determined to shield Judge Kavanaugh from an impartial and professional investigation concerning the accusations by Dr. Ford and the other women who have accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexual violence. Judge Kavanaugh, like Amnon, is getting “crown prince” treatment from the very people who have the authority and obligation to investigate the sexual assault allegations.
Don’t be fooled because Senator Grassley has hired Maricopa County, Arizona prosecutor Rachel Mitchell to question Dr. Ford before the Judiciary Committee today. Seasoned prosecutors and defense lawyers question witnesses publicly only after thoroughly investigating the background of those witnesses and the subjects the witnesses will testify about. The FBI hasn’t investigated the sexual assault allegations about Judge Kavanaugh by Dr. Ford or anyone else. The FBI hasn’t investigated Judge Kavanaugh’s denials of those allegations. Why? Because Judge Kavanaugh, like Amnon, is getting “crown prince” treatment from the people who can require FBI investigations into the sexual assault allegations.
Neither the prophet, Nathan, nor any other prophet spoke up for Tamar. No religious leader denounced what happened to her, or condemned the way King David and other powerful men shielded Amnon. Likewise, none of the religious leaders who brag about their access to President Trump and influence with Majority Leader McConnell, Chairman Grassley, and other Republicans on the Judiciary Committee have been quoted in the media concerning the sexual assault allegations made by Dr. Ford and other women. Why? Because Judge Kavanaugh, like Amnon, is getting “crown prince” treatment from religionists who claim to be moral counselors to Judge Kavanaugh’s political sponsors and allies.
Amnon, as crown prince, was positioned to succeed David as king of Israel. Judge Kavanaugh is positioned to succeed Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court of the United States. Like Tamar, Dr. Ford and other women who have accused Judge Kavanaugh of sexual violence are being patronized – but not protected – because they are viewed as disposable obstacles to the elevation of a privileged man to higher office.
Privileged politicians and religious leaders – all men – are shielding Judge Kavanaugh and mistreating Dr. Ford and other victims of sexual violence in 2018 the same way privileged and powerful politicians and religious leaders – all men – shielded Amnon and mistreated Tamar in the Old Testament.
I’ve written this essay to condemn the latest example of the Tamar travesty. I’m also calling on Senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton of Arkansas to refrain from voting whether to confirm Judge Kavanaugh until the FBI has investigated and issued a written report to the Office of the President and the Senate Judiciary Committee concerning the accusations from Dr. Ford and other sexual violence victims.
What are you doing to condemn and prevent the current example of the Tamar travesty?