Kamala Harris’s America Isn’t One You Want To Live In

Printed from: https://newbostonpost.com/2020/08/12/kamala-harriss-america-isnt-one-you-want-to-live-in/

On November 28, 2018, an agri-business lawyer and former Republican political candidate named Brian Buescher appeared for a hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee concerning his nomination by President Donald Trump to become a federal judge.

U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-California) didn’t show up that day, but a week later she submitted questions in writing to Buescher, ostensibly to determine whether he was fit to serve as a judge on the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska.

Harris, who is now Joe Biden’s running mate — and, given his condition, almost a co-presumptive-nominee for president — asked questions on eight topics. Three were about abortion. Two were about homosexuality and transgenderism.

Two of her lines of questioning probed Buescher’s membership in the Knights of Columbus, a Roman Catholic fraternal order that provides life insurance for its members and promotes charity and Catholic spirituality.

Let’s speculate that one of her staff members wrote the questions, Harris being too busy with other things, like preparing to launch her campaign for president, which she did 47 days later. She presumably at least read the questions before she authorized them to be sent, seeing as how her Judiciary Committee seat (which she owes to Al Franken’s resignation over Photo-gate) is her juiciest slot in the Senate.

Harris’s Question 3 notes that Buescher joined the Knights of Columbus in 1993, quotes the organization’s leader as saying that abortion is murder, and then asks:

“Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the organization?”

This is apparently some anti-Catholic’s idea of being clever. It might have seemed unseemly to ask, “When you accepted the sacrament of confirmation in the Catholic Church around the late 1980s, were you aware that the Catholic Church opposed abortion?”

Yet that question makes almost as much sense. As a Catholic organization, the Knights of Columbus simply follows Catholic teaching – on abortion, as on everything else.

To probe a nominee’s membership in a religious organization in this way is the same as probing a nominee’s membership in a religion – a violation of Article VI, Section 3 of the U.S. Constitution, which says that “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

Buescher’s written response is amusing – “I do not recall if I was aware whether the Knights of Columbus had taken a position on the abortion issue when I joined at the age of eighteen.”

But it’s not as amusing as Harris’s Question 4. It begins by noting that in 2008 the Knights of Columbus donated money to support a referendum in California seeking to define marriage as between one man and one woman. (The referendum, called Proposition 8, passed, 52 to 48 percent, although federal courts refused to allow it to take effect.)

Again, here the Knights of Columbus simply followed Catholic teaching and acted on it.

Here’s what Harris asked Buescher:

“Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus opposed marriage equality when you joined the organization?”

If you assume “marriage equality” means “same-sex marriage,” then the obvious answer is no – because no organizations and no politicians had a position on same-sex marriage in 1993. Most people had never considered the possibility.

This question is so addled that if you close your eyes you can imagine Joe Biden asking it.

She followed it with:

“Were you aware that the Knights of Columbus supported Proposition 8 in California?”

You mean, was he aware when he joined the Knights of Columbus in 1993 that the Knights would donate money in 2008 to a cause he had never heard of?

Again:  Paging Joe Biden.

Yet noting the asininity of these questions is too easy, and misses the point.

Make no mistake about this line of attack. It’s not like Harris was looking for information from Buescher. He had run (unsuccessfully) in the 2014 primary for Nebraska attorney general as a pro-life Republican who also opposed same-sex marriage. So it’s not like she didn’t know where he stood on these issues as political matters. Nor was she feeling him out for his judicial philosophy, which she did with other questions but not these.

So what was she doing?

The attempt is clearly guilt by association. But association with what? The Knights of Columbus.

And not because the Knights of Columbus is some sort of racketeering group. The implied accusations concern what the Knights of Columbus professes. And since the Knights of Columbus follows Catholic teaching and acts on it, then the real guilty party here is … the Catholic Church.

This is different, incidentally, from disagreeing with the Catholic Church, whether it be on abortion, contraception, homosexuality, the incarnation, transubstantiation, auricular confession, intercessory prayers to saints, the way it presents itself, or anything else.

It’s also different from disagreeing with a nominee because of his public policy positions. What Harris attacked was the nominee’s decision to join a religious organization in the first place.

The point of Harris’s questions is not to advance an alternate theory of what is good and true. It’s to marginalize the religion and those who follow it without even presenting a case, on the theory that there’s no need to present a case.

To a certain kind of Democrat, Roman Catholicism in 2020 is like Communism was in the 1950s. If your parents were that way, if you once dabbled in it, you can probably skate by; but if you believe it, you’re tainted.

Nor is Harris on an island in Democratistan.

In September 2017, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein told Amy Coney Barrett, another believing Catholic nominated for a federal judgeship, that she was troubled by her because “the dogma lives loudly in you.”

U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono went further than Harris in her pursuit of Buescher’s wicked past. Hirono claimed, while setting up one of her written questions to Buescher, that the Knights of Columbus “has taken a number of extreme positions,” singling out California’s same-sex marriage referendum in 2008.

Hmmm … if the Knights of Columbus was on the winning side in a referendum that drew a total of 13.4 million voters, how extreme could that position have been?

And what is extreme about any aspect of the Knights of Columbus, by the way?

If they can make out the Knights of Columbus as extreme, they can do it to anybody — because the Knights of Columbus is a bedrock institution of the country. Founded in 1882, the Knights of Columbus currently claims about 1.9 million members. (Including Samuel Alito, Joe Manchin, Ron Guidry, Mike Ditka, and me.)

Past members include such fringe characters in American life as Babe Ruth, Connie Mack, Vince Lombardi, Al Smith, Joyce Kilmer, Lou Albano, Jerry Orbach, and President John F. Kennedy.

Its $185 million in charitable endeavors in 2018 included donations to Coats for Kids, Habitat for Humanity, and the Special Olympics.

So why say things that are not just inaccurate but ridiculous?

The goal is to create an alternate reality, where pro-life, pro-family, pro-American attitudes (like those of the Knights of Columbus) are portrayed not so much as wrong as inherently menacing. That’s especially useful, because if it works it eliminates the need to actually argue. No need to explain how allowing abortion is moral or encouraging homosexuality and transgenderism is advisable – or how any of the modern court decisions on these matters are constitutional. Just splatter your opponents with a sort of meme.

The result is a hostile atmosphere for religion.

It’s not that such senators would automatically oppose all baptized Catholics for judgeships or anything else, of course. The Catholics that are house-trained could still pass muster. But the ones who believe and act on that belief …

Such nominees can be made to feel like they need to defend not only their views on government policy but also their religion.

This is not how we do public life in America.

At least, it didn’t used to be.