This land is your land, this land is my land,
From California to the New York island,
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters,
This land was made for you and me
On May 12, 1954, I woke up with labor pains, about to give birth to my first child. We called Dr. Kuntze, my obstetrician. Expecting a long labor, he told my husband and me to wait at home. We did not own a television. To while away the time we asked our neighbor whether we could watch the Army-McCarthy hearings at her apartment.
Senator McCarthy was testifying vociferously on the black and white screen in a room crowded with serious-looking white males. For years the junior senator from Wisconsin had terrorized the nation with allegations of pro-Communist infiltration of the federal government, the CIA, the film industry, and universities. It was scary. The freedom of the United States, a country that had granted me asylum and residency eight years earlier, was at stake. Finally McCarthy aroused the ire of the army and President Eisenhower. The 1954 hearings broke his power, but it was a close call and caused much damage.
It was a coincidence that the meeting of the 2018 Senate Judiciary Committee that heard the testimony of Dr. Christine Ford and Judge Brett Kavanaugh also took place on a day that for me involved a visit to a hospital. The now-near-retirement “infant” I gave birth to during the Army-McCarthy hearings shepherded me lovingly during my outpatient surgical procedure and then accompanied me back home.
I missed most of Dr. Ford’s sane, emotional presentation, which still took place before a room filled with mostly aging white men. But I caught Dr. Kavanaugh’s testimony, and it terrified me beyond belief. It was not only what he said, but his demeanor. He snorted, twitched, and sweated. He swallowed water as if his life depended on it. He was yelling and tearing up. Was he on the verge of a mental breakdown? During the question and answer period he was supercilious, evaded questions, and evinced neither sagacity nor kindness. How could he be entrusted with a seat on the highest court of my beloved country which rescued me from the abyss of tyranny?
Suddenly my soul started vibrating with terror. I remembered the voice of Adolf Hitler as he ranted from the German radio. When I was a child it reverberated through my house in Germany. The subject matter of Kavanaugh’s and Hitler’s presentations were vastly different, but their tone, their self-pity, their fury were similar. Kavanaugh does not stand for America or for justice. He does not belong on the Supreme Court of America.