A two part series: Part One – Senator Danforth.
Two different people – two different lives – two different lifestyles – two different sets of ethical choices to live by.
I heard Senator Danforth preach at Harvard University’s Memorial Chapel and it was a stunning sermon in hypocrisy, upper class morality putting self first, and a huge emphasis on how what is happening in politics today – especially Republican politics is not evil it is simply……..
Senator Danforth, white Episcopal priest, is today loudly proclaiming his “error” in being the mentor and backer of Senator Hawley. A not unexpected loudly proclaimed admission and chest thumping comment. Considering that Senator Danforth is one of the main reasons for the success of Clarence Thomas becoming a Supreme Court Justice, it is not only Josh Hawley for whom Senator Danforth should dress in rags covered in ashes and sit in a corner in repentance for trying to move Christianity – in which he claims to believe – away from the far evangelical white right. Which is better, a far right white evangelical christian or an upper class white ‘priest’ person who uses religion to justify their cultural lifestyle and beliefs as “better than” and the way the world should work.
Senator Danforth has lived what most would consider a “successful” life. We would consider it an abject failure because he does not even try to get out of his upbringing and his way of thinking about himself and his own as the good people of society – why can’t we all be like them (and him). The world would be a much better place.
Danforth is explicit in these thoughts, but it doesn’t take long observing his career, reading his books and seeing the people he has mentored to realize the horrific damage he has done to these United States.
Senator Danforth chose to back Josh Hawley for the Senate in 2018 over then Senator Claire McCaskill. One had a substantial career in the Senate and lives out of a set of ethical beliefs which show her thoughtful, careful life in a serious Christian context. The other showed his instincts and needs for power and money putting him in a place where it clearly showed there was no limit to what he would do to achieve those goals of being “better than”, having “more than”, being an important person at whatever the cost – and clearly we have now seen that the cost the rest of us would be expected to pay so Senator Hawley could achieve his goals in life would be loss of our democracy. To see those instincts in another human being does not take a genius who is skilled in observing such and who has a deep knowledge of human beings.
Senator Danforth also backed Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court. He did not just back him, he was his mentor and guided the way removing whatever he had to remove so Danforth’s person would be successful in becoming the black justice to replace the likes of Thurgood Marshall. This time, a black person who was not as clear about his identity as ‘equal’, who was not a great thinker, and whose ethics were those that a black man should have out of which he lived his life.
Clarence Thomas’ flaws were many and very publicly known. How Senator Danforth justified overlooking his abuse of women, his attempted sexual assault on many, how he even was able to ignore the extended testimony of Anita Hill, who was one amongst several women who charged Clarence Thomas with sexual harassment. Anita Hill worked for Thomas and so it was aggregious to have her testimony, but with Senator Danforth’s blessing and support Thomas was passed on and became a Supreme Court Justice. Was it also with Danforth’s interference that the other women, who had similar claims were not allowed to testify and so passing along and confirming Clarence Thomas would not seem so horrendous to the rest of society who had not heard the many testify to very similar sexual abuse and harassment claims?
These are two of the men Senator Danforth has used his considerable influence and resources to back and move along to the top of the United States government. You don’t rectify those kind of mistakes by making a public statement when something extremely ugly has happened and you have to either make such a statement beating your chest over your bad judgment or be quiet and hope you are overlooked in all of the upheaval and publicity around the huge mistakes you made – people judgment mistakes. However, what calls Senator Danforth into question is the people judgment mistakes he made as an Episcopal priest with training – supposedly – to help him avoid such and the consistency of the kind of people Danforth sees as ‘great’ who he can mentor and help move to the top of this society.
In both instances, Senator Danforth severely rejected the women involved on the other side calling into question the men he chose to mentor. – Claire McCaskill as Senator running against Danforth’s chosen person Josh Hawley and Professor Anita Hill who risked her reputation to come forward because she thought the American people needed to know of her experience with this man – Clarence Thomas – being considered for a position on the Supreme Court of these United States.
Anita Hill had nothing to gain and everything to lose, but she followed her ethical beliefs in not closing her eyes to what was happening. Besides Claire McCaskill, how many other women has Senator Danforth shoved aside and helped to humiliate because of his ethical base which shows clearly through his choice of people to mentor and push ahead to the top positions in American government.
In his sermon at Harvard’s Memorial Chapel, Senator Danforth argued strongly for those in attendance and all others in the world to not classify what was happening and beginning to show up in this American Government as evil. It was simply – what – people doing their jobs in the best way they could? Or something like that. No moral judgment on all of those missteps. Especially nothing seen as “evil” done by the people he mentored. The recent killing of five people in the process of a planned take over of the American government by a group of people egged on by one who Senator Danforth mentored. Nothing evil about that – just a Senator doing his job as best he could.
And through it all, very substantial support of Senator Danforth by the Episcopal Church.
Here ends the first lesson in this two part series.