Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard speaking at the People’s Rally, Washington DC by Lorie Shaull, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0/Original
Over the past couple of years, I’ve posted on the way some Democrats, particularly senators, have been flagrantly ignoring the First Amendment. They’ve flouted of a core principle of our society, that the federal government cannot impose a religious test on candidates for office or upon nominees for positions. There has been heavy insinuation around the edges, but only with the Trump administration have Democrat senators on the Judiciary Committee ripped off the mask and directly challenged the fitness of candidates for the federal bench based upon their religion.
— Jason Calvi (@JasonCalvi) September 6, 2017
In that same hearing Dick Durbin got in on the religious bigotry:
“Do you consider yourself an orthodox Catholic?”
This is sort of funny because Durbin, at various times, has claimed that he is a solid Catholic…except on abortion, gay marriage, or any other subject in which the progressive agenda disagrees with God.
And what is becoming my favorite Democrat senator, Mazie Hirono weighed in and quite heavily:
I think your article is very plain in your perspective about the role of religion for judges, and particularly with regard to Catholic judges.
Just before Christmas Hirono and Corey “No, really, I am actually heterosexual” Booker tag-teamed at the hearing of Brian Buescher, a distinguished Omaha lawyer, who has been nominated to be a district judge in the District of Nebraska. Buescher is not only Catholic but a member of the Knights of Columbus…which, if you were to pay attention to either Hirono or Booker, could be a ruthless paramilitary order with a steely focus on burning heretics at the stake.
The fact that we now have four Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee who think that a nominee’s faith can disqualify them from office indicates that we are well on our way to a nation with no rules whatsoever. But then the most amazing thing happened. Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard took to The Hill to register her displeasure:
No American should be told that his or her public service is unwelcome because “the dogma lives loudly within you” as Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said to Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation hearings in 2017 to serve as U.S. Circuit Court judge in the 7th Circuit.
While I absolutely believe in the separation of church and state as a necessity to the health of our nation, no American should be asked to renounce his or her faith or membership in a faith-based, service organization in order to hold public office.
The party that worked so hard to convince people that Catholics and Knights of Columbus like Al Smith and John F. Kennedy could be both good Catholics and good public servants shows an alarming disregard of its own history in making such attacks today.
We must call this out for what it is – religious bigotry. This is true not just when such prejudice is anti-Catholic, but also when it is anti-Semitic, anti-Muslim, anti-Hindu, or anti-Protestant, or any other religion.
In politics or at home, we Americans can disagree with and oppose people if we are concerned about their views, opinions, or their commitment to uphold their constitutional duties. However, we must not claim or imply that an individual is not qualified because of their religion or their membership in a particular religious organization, or their belief in the tenets of their faith.
If we can all agree that we do not want prejudice and bigotry to rule our nation, then we must stand united to denounce it whenever it raises its ugly head.
Elected leaders engaging in religion-baiting are playing with fire. They are sacrificing the well-being, peace and harmony of our country to satisfy their own political ambitions for partisan political interests.
We must stand together, call out and reject religious bigotry no matter where it comes from, and fight to protect the freedoms and principles that bind us together as Americans.
This is the kind of call-out that is usually reserved for conservatives.
But Gabbard soon found out that this was not a move that endeared her to any of her compatriots.
Hirono, who is quite obviously the target of the op-ed, had her spokescritter respond:
Wow: Mazie Hirono spox knocks Tulsi Gabbard for op-ed on "religious bigotry" over Qs for Trump judicial nominee.
"It is unfortunate that Congresswoman Gabbard based her misguided opinion on the far-right wing manipulation of these straightforward Qs.” https://t.co/Nf7QLr9oMy
— Alex Seitz-Wald (@aseitzwald) January 9, 2019
Because only a right-wing extremist would object to using someone’s religion as a reason to vote against their nomination.
And that was the mildest. She immediately had her own faith challenged.
Tulsi Gabbard’s ties to Hindu nationalists in the United States run so deep that the progressive newspaper Telegraph India in 2015 christened her the Sangh’s American mascot. https://t.co/UmqFIWakbb
— The Intercept (@theintercept) January 5, 2019
Not only is Rep. Tulsi Gabbard funded by right-wing Hindutva/pro-BJP groups in the US, she also takes policy directions from them. This is your progressive hero. But of course, this is insignificant, right? Only in America is Hindutva fascism considered “progressive.” pic.twitter.com/ck8t39bD6s
— S. Khan (@SameeraKhan) January 9, 2019
And then she got an unhinged, slobbering rant
Tulsi Gabbard is accusing female senators of anti-Catholic bigotry for (rightly) questioning a judicial nominee's membership in an extreme right-wing anti-choice anti-LGBT all-male organization. Gabbard is not a progressive, she's a fraud. https://t.co/Be5uHYTxp2
— Jill Filipovic (@JillFilipovic) January 9, 2019
Keep in mind that she’s talking about the Knights of freakin Columbus, and then consider what your lived faith would have to be like in order to pass scrutiny for Filipovic.
I’m not forming any Gabbard fan club because at her core she’s a progressive Democrat with some very unsavory foreign policy beliefs.
It would be nice if Tulsi Gabbard showed Sen. Mazie Hirono at least a fraction of the respect she’s shown Assad, a war criminal.
— Adam Parkhomenko (@AdamParkhomenko) January 9, 2019
Tulsi Gabbard is a strong progressive domestically, but outside the US, it’s a different story. The contradiction of authoritarian abroad and liberal at home can’t be sustained… https://t.co/nkZMWgo3Vf
— Ryan Grim (@ryangrim) January 6, 2019
I think what we’re seeing here are some sharp elbows being used to open up running room for higher office. Mazie Hirono is 71 and if Gabbard runs against her in a Democrat pest-hole like Hawaii, I would bet good money that she cleans the floor with her for any number of reasons, some good and some problematic. She probably sees herself as a viable candidate for president in 2024 (I’d doubt she’s looking at 2020, but who knows). This making of common cause with conservative Catholics on the narrow issue of religious bigotry could get her a huge benefit of the doubt from Republicans if she did run for the White House.
Regardless, to paraphrase someone pretty important, there is more joy in Heaven when one Democrat discovers the US Constitution exists than there is when the whole Federalist society signs onto a single op-ed in the New York Times.
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