A nice country for well-heeled white men

For a little over a week, the hearings, the stunted FBI investigation, and the final Senate vote for Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court blotted out my upset from Trump’s Zero Tolerance Immigration Policy, and the story of the traumatized four-year old who remains separated from his mother, or the immigrant teenagers lined up like prisoners in a vast tent city in West Texas. Instead I was consumed by the appalling machinations aimed at confirming a white male judge with a record of conservative rulings and an apparent history of drinking and sexual aggressiveness. 

Was there a moral connection between the human tragedies of the immigrant children at the border, so difficult for investigators to report on, and the well-televised long week of conflict and drama that constituted Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation?  

I wasn’t surprised that both Judge Kavanaugh and his accuser, Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, had attended elite private high schools — the period when the alleged assault occurred — and had gone on to earn college and graduate degrees and to become successful professionals. But if their similarly privileged backgrounds, as well as educational and professional accomplishments, gave them a semblance of parity — during her testimony, the senators were careful to call the accuser “Dr. Ford” — the illusion was quickly dispelled once it was time to question Brett Kavanaugh. The female prosecutor, who had protected the male Republican senators from appearing unsympathetic to Ford by asking questions in their behalf, was effectively dismissed, freeing the Republicans to depart from any serious questioning of Kavanaugh: no one doubted that Dr. Ford had been assaulted; there just wasn’t seen any evidence that Kavanaugh had been the assailant. (Ford’s “100 percent certain” didn’t count.) Moreover, his teenage rowdiness and beer-drinking was a thing of the distant past, dredged up to cause humiliation and suffering to Judge Kavanaugh, his lovely wife and beautiful daughters. Senator Lindsey Graham, who has given us moments of Republican candor and decency, this time raged at the possibility that Me Too-inspired accusations like Dr. Ford’s would destroy the willingness of good men to offer their skills and talents in the public sphere. 

Dr. Ford’s careful testimony that Thursday morning, followed by the afternoon free-for-all by and for Judge Kavanaugh’s, was so distressing that it took me a day to realize how privileged was the Republican’s comfortable assumption that “boys will be boys.” What urban black or Latino man can look back on teenage drinking and being abusive with women in the certainty that they never risked arrest and surely deserve no current censure?  

Which returns me to those Central American parents and their children who escaped the poverty and violence of their home countries to make the long, arduous and usually expensive trip north, only to experience Trump’s Zero Tolerance Policy. Since the policy holds alien adults for criminal prosecution, and children cannot be held in criminal custody, over 3,000 minors were separated from their parents as the parents awaited prosecution. 

It is now over three months since a federal judge stopped the separation of immigrant children from their parents, and I’m unclear about how the rule that children cannot be held in criminal custody is currently being handled. Yet as of Oct. 4, despite countless hours of pro-bono legal aid by the ACLU, 350 children have not been reunited with their parents. The delays, which have caused trauma to both children and parents, are the result of poor Department of Homeland Security (DHS) record-keeping, as well as poor coordination between the DHS and the Department of Health and Human Services, which supposedly within 72 hours received and dispersed the children. 

For me, the Republican railroading of Judge Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation and the Trump Administration’s treatment of Central American immigrants are related. Missing in both is any concern or genuine compassion for the vulnerable. This is an administration by and for the rich and the powerful, presumed to be white men. Everyone else has real cause to be ready to fight back.

Writer Carol Ascher lives in Sharon, Conn.