The Ka­mala Har­ris ex­am­ple

The Saline Courier - - OPINION -

The 1989 Cher song “If I Could Turn Back Time” comes to mind when I think about the end of the Ka­mala Har­ris’s cam­paign to be the Demo­cratic can­di­date for pres­i­dent. Maybe you re­mem­ber the song -- “If I could turn back time/if I could find a way/i’d take back those words that’ve hurt you and you’d stay.” Well, if Sen. Har­ris had a time ma­chine, I sus­pect she would go back to about ex­actly a year ago, when she de­cided to at­tack a fed­eral dis­trict court nom­i­nee re­gard­ing his mem­ber­ship in the Knights of Colum­bus.

Here’s one of the ques­tions she asked Nebraska court nom­i­nee Brian Buescher in writ­ing: “Since 1993, you have been a mem­ber of the Knights of Colum­bus, an all-male so­ci­ety com­prised pri­mar­ily of Catholic men. In 2016, Carl An­der­son, leader of the Knights of Colum­bus, de­scribed abor­tion as ‘a le­gal regime that has re­sulted in more than 40 mil­lion deaths.’ Mr. An­der­son went on to say that ‘abor­tion is the killing of the in­no­cent on a mas­sive scale.’ Were you aware that the Knights of Colum­bus op­posed a woman’s right to choose when you joined the or­ga­ni­za­tion?”

It doesn’t take too much aware­ness to re­al­ize that op­po­si­tion to abor­tion isn’t a weird hang-up for Carl An­der­son or the Knights of Colum­bus, but a no-com­pro­mise po­si­tion for many reli­gious be­liev­ers, and cer­tainly for the Catholic Church -- de­spite prom­i­nent “as a Catholic” dis­senters like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and former Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den, also in the race for the Demo­cratic nom­i­na­tion for pres­i­dent.

Har­ris’ ques­tions be­trayed an ig­no­rance -- at best -- of the largest fra­ter­nal or­ga­ni­za­tion in the world. And it didn’t take long for peo­ple on the right and left to call her out for show­ing anti-catholic big­otry that be­trayed an in­tol­er­ance for peo­ple of faith with tra­di­tional views on hu­man life and mar­riage.

Both Buescher, who joined the Knights at 18 (as many of my male friends in col­lege did), and the Knights de­serve bet­ter than Har­ris’s treat­ment. And peo­ple know that -- which is no small rea­son why her cam­paign never re­ally had the kind of fol­low­ing that would have kept her as a con­tender for the long haul.

Peo­ple who don’t even have much con­tact with the Knights as­so­ci­ate them with good cit­i­zen­ship. It’s not un­usual to be fa­mil­iar with the Knights for coat drives or pan­cake break­fasts or other char­ity and fel­low­ship op­por­tu­ni­ties. The Knights have a sto­ried his­tory of fight­ing for reli­gious free­dom and be­ing lead­ers and en­ablers of ro­bust Chris­tian gen­eros­ity -- the stuff of the Beat­i­tudes.

In re­cent mem­ory, the Knights suc­cess­fully pe­ti­tioned the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion to rec­og­nize the so-called Is­lamic State geno­cide in Iraq. They are known to rush to the scene of nat­u­ral dis­as­ters and have been bea­cons of light in the wake of mass shoot­ings, in­clud­ing in Sandy Hook in 2012 or High­lands Ranch, Colorado this year. They are in­stru­ments of com­mu­nity build­ing, heal­ing, ed­u­ca­tion, prayer and civic re­spon­si­bil­ity.

I gave Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard a lot of credit for tak­ing Sen. Har­ris on at the start of this year in an opin­ion col­umn (just days be­fore she threw her own hat into the pri­mary ring). It was smart po­lit­i­cally, but it was also the right thing to do. It was a healthy sign for the Demo­cratic party -- that some­one would have the courage to take on any­thing in­volv­ing abor­tion.

This is part of how Gabbard put it:

“We must stand to­gether, and with one voice con­demn those who seek to in­cite big­otry based on re­li­gion. We can­not al­low those who are anx­ious to ex­ploit our dif­fer­ences to drive a wedge be­tween us. We can­not and will not tol­er­ate prej­u­di­cial treat­ment of those with whom we dis­agree, any more than we would tol­er­ate such treat­ment of those with whom we agree.”

We’re still a peo­ple who pur­port to be about free­dom. Let’s be se­ri­ous and rig­or­ous about that, es­pe­cially when we are talk­ing about pow­er­houses of civil so­ci­ety, the med­i­tat­ing in­sti­tu­tions that make our coun­try work, that love and serve with a heart the gov­ern­ment can never and will never have.

We’re a bet­ter peo­ple for the Knights of Colum­bus, and Amer­i­cans know it. Har­ris clearly didn’t know this, and it haunted her cam­paign. Let her mis­take be a cau­tion­ary tale: Don’t take on the good guys.

•••

Kathryn Jean Lopez is se­nior fel­low at the Na­tional Re­view In­sti­tute, ed­i­tor-at-large of Na­tional Re­view mag­a­zine and au­thor of the new book “A Year With the Mys­tics: Vi­sion­ary Wis­dom for Daily Liv­ing.” She can be con­tacted at [email protected]­tion­al­re­view.com.

KATHRYN LOPEZ

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