In this op-ed, Dawn Huckelbridge, senior director of American Bridge's women's rights initiative, explains why she thinks Republicans calling survivors and protesters a "mob" are so wrong.
By now, we’ve all seen President Trump's tactic heading into the midterms of painting women survivors, nonviolent protesters, and the left as a "mob." The GOP all must have gotten the memo. Sen. Chuck Grassley, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, and conservative media outlets are using similar scripts, condemning "dangerous," "extreme," and "screaming" mobs.
This is directly out of Trump’s playbook — to accuse your opponents of exactly your own wrongdoings. In reality, it's the political right that has never been so radical or lawless.
Last month, Christine Blasey Ford testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee. In spite of what was nearly a hostile cross-examination, she was patient, polite, and measured throughout. She spoke calmly of her own story of trauma, even answering questions to her credibility with an eloquent explanation of the neurobiology of memory.
And across the country, women, men, and children showed their solidarity through nonviolent protest. I spoke to many of these people who were protesting the week of the hearing, and they said they simply wanted to be believed and show Dr. Ford that "she wasn’t alone." They huddled around speakers to listen to her testimony on Capitol Hill; they listened and wept. They held signs and marched and asked their representatives to look at them and listen to their stories of assault, of trauma, of survival.
Contrast this with Brett Kavanaugh’s furious and hostile display, with Lindsey Graham’s outburst, with the FBI's skirting of a thorough investigation, with Republicans "plowing through" with his confirmation. Contrast it with Trump’s defense of actual mobs, of Neo-Nazis with torches who did in fact murder someone, with the violent shouts of “lock her up” that Trump’s supporters now chant about any number of women.
This use of projection and gaslighting on a mass scale isn’t new. But it’s a tactic used by fascist governments, not developed democracies. They’re even using words like "harassment" and "assault" to describe the protests and the constituents simply asking to tell their stories.
Many of those representatives refused to listen to survivors. Many looked away. And now, many of them are laughing and openly toasting Kavanaugh like a collective win for the patriarchy.
Yes, people are angry. Women have a lot to be angry about. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource center, one in five women will be raped at some point in their lives and one in three will experience sexual violence. RAINN's statistics show that 99 percent of rapists will never be convicted. Not even a third of college students found guilty of sexual assault are kicked out, the Huffington Post found. Hundreds of thousands of rape kits sit in storage untested.
And when a woman comes forward with a compelling story of sexual assault against a man up for one of the most important jobs in law and order in our country, our leaders accused her of lying, claimed it was a political smear job, and then made assault seem so commonplace and trivial that it was called "horseplay." Our Federal Bureau of Investigations did not speak to Dr. Ford or the accused, or to as many as 40 corroborating witnesses, NBC News reported. They wrapped up days early.
Ultimately, Dr. Ford — and women across this country — were told that it does not matter. Women are told in so many ways, every day, that our voices don’t matter, that our work isn’t valuable, that our bodies aren’t our own. And now our country’s leaders are saying it plain.
But, the good news is that talking points don’t always work. Trump and his yes-men can stick to their script, they can insist that voters are on their side, that "overcorrection" and backlash are fueling their base. They can repeat that the accusations against Kavanaugh were a "hoax," but that doesn’t make it true.
Women are angry. Women are anguished. But no matter how many times you say it, women are not a mob. Women are challenging the establishment and speaking truth to power. They are voting and running for office. The white men in power may be trying to frame that as violent revolution, but it’s really just the workings of a healthy democracy.