Susan Stornetta: Detonating land mine of politics

I was surprised when I opened my Appeal on Nov. 3 and discovered my name at the beginning of Guy Farmer’s column — I thought, well, someone reads me.

It seems Farmer was critiquing a column I wrote just before the 2018 election. I generally avoid the enraging minefield of politics, but I decided to do my tiny bit and encourage voters to open their hearts and consider voting for candidates other than the white males who currently dominate politics — and almost everything else.

For Farmer, I detonated one of those land mines. He called my words nasty and unfair, angry and offensive. I may have used a few too many adjectives when I urged voters to “dump the out-of-touch vengeful, angry, greedy and rapacious old white male politicians” and consider voting for women and minorities (simmering-rage inspired, I know) and, in Nevada and nationwide, voters did choose this broader path.

My criticism is of politicians who abuse the power they wield. Not all white male politicians fit into this category, but the majority of powerful people in government are white males, not women or minorities. Why does Farmer identify with my comment?

He’s not a politician, though he’s the Appeal’s senior political columnist. He dismisses my comments as not about facts, but feelings. Well, yes. As I say, politics are enraging, but some political maneuverings are particularly egregious.

Consider the recent confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh, who was called out for sexual harassment. His accuser, Dr. Christine Ford, testified convincingly before the Senate Judiciary Committee (four women, 16 men), but the FBI didn’t undertake to investigate her claims or those of others lined up to testify on her behalf. Ford’s concerns were simply ignored. From Kavanaugh we got sneers, lies, angst, and attempts to claim victimhood.

The final vote, along party lines, pushed him into the Supreme Court: judge for life in the nation’s court of last resort. I shudder when I think about the future of the court, with such an unethical and self-indulgent person on the bench.

Senate Republicans acted to please the president, whose history of contempt and assault of women is well-documented. The Kavanaugh appointment ensures Trump’s misogynistic attitude of dismissive and disrespectful behavior toward women will be entrenched in the court for years to come.

Turning the page, I encountered another opinion piece, this one by Bill Kidder. The headline, Defending Old Men, gave me pause — another scolding? To my surprise, Kidder took Farmer to task for holding the attitudes I criticize. Kidder’s column opened with his assessment of Farmer’s Oct. 13 column about the Kavanaugh debacle as a “full-out, angry, partisan, ‘grumpy old man,’ ‘what’s wrong with these women’ Lindsey Graham rant.”

Kidder’s comments on the difference between his own interpretation of the Kavanaugh hearing and Farmer’s intrigued me.

Farmer suggests Democrats believe women don’t ever lie about sexual assault but men always do. Kidder found Ford’s testimony compelling and felt that Kavanaugh overreacted, crying conspiracy and influence by outside special interests.

Farmer comments men who are accused of sexual misbehavior can be convicted without evidence or trial, but Kavanaugh was rewarded with a seat on the Supreme Court. Kidder presents facts about sexual harassment, rape, and the many silent female victims of harassment. They know powerful men who abuse them can and will destroy them if they don’t keep quiet — just one more form of harassment. Many women know these situations personally.

Like Farmer, though, I respect the First Amendment, which allows me, a woman, to express my opinion right up there with Farmer and Kidder. And, I salute the Nevada Appeal for its inclusive presentation of opinions.

Susan Stornetta is a retired archaeologist and a longtime Comstock resident.


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