Rep. Katie Hill, D-Calif., is seen on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, April 3, 2019. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
As I was perusing the Twitter machine earlier today I came across a tweet from former Congresswoman Katie Hill (D-CA) in which she attacked Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) over the Violence Against Women Act stalemate in the Senate, which has been going on for almost a year now.
Here’s what Hill wrote:
.@SenJoniErnst has cast a dark cloud over today’s Valentine’s Day. By refusing to renew VAWA she’s putting guns into the hands of abusive boyfriends, husbands, and stalkers — and putting countless lives at risk. #WhyJoni https://t.co/Lp1TTC1sit
— Katie Hill (@KatieHill4CA) February 14, 2020
When I first read it, I gasped. Ernst herself is a survivor of sexual assault and domestic abuse. Anyone who knows this about her, which should include every House and Senate member and former members like Hill as well, would understand that Ernst’s refusal to sign on to the House’s reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act – which includes new provisions – doesn’t have anything to do with not wanting to protect women, right?
Perhaps Hill didn’t know, I thought to myself. There’s no way she would knowingly be this insensitive and accusatory to an actual survivor, surely?
But then I clicked on the link in her tweet. Here’s what the “Valentine’s Day card” stated (bolded emphasis added):
Sign the Valentine’s Card to Joni: Stand up for Iowa women, NOT the NRA
The Violence Against Women Act is up for renewal in the Senate. It’s a simple, but powerful law: it protects women from domestic violence.
Joni Ernst is a survivor of sexual assault. She should know that for many women, this is life or death. But since the NRA came out against it, Joni has shamefully buried and abandoned the Violence Against Women Act.
Tell Joni to close the Boyfriend Loophole and pass the Violence Against Women Act. We’re going to deliver a giant Valentine’s Day card to Joni’s office with everyone’s name who signs.
In other words, Hill knowingly signed a “card” for sexual assault/domestic violence victim Ernst that accuses her of abandoning victims of the exact same type of abuses she herself has suffered.
When I did some more digging, I came across more “Why Joni” tweets and videos, all with the same message: Survivor Joni Ernst is putting the NRA before fellow victims. Shame on her!
Here are a couple, including a video where the sister of a woman murdered by her ex-boyfriend called Ernst “weak”:
Joni Ernst is a survivor of sexual assault. She should know that for many women, this is life or death. But since the NRA came out against it, Joni has shamefully buried and abandoned the Violence Against Women Act. Will you sign and share this petition?https://t.co/nLmjfq2bpa
— Women's March Tennessee #PowerTogether (@TNPowerTogether) February 14, 2020
.@SenJoniErnst has blocked a vote to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act — a law that could have saved Lilly's sister's life. Now Iowa women are coming together to ask Joni a simple question: Why?
— Ady Barkan (@AdyBarkan) February 14, 2020
Everyone involved in this campaign to vilify Ernst knows she’s a survivor. And yet they’re using it against her and, in effect, re-victimizing her.
As I’ve written before, not only is this issue very personal for Ernst, she also understands that Democrats are playing games with VAWA in a critical election year. She has long known the House version of the bill will not pass the Senate in its current form, which is why she’s proposed an alternative:
Failed as a Congresswoman, now failing as an advocate.
Suggesting that an assault survivor is "putting guns in the hands of abusers" because they're pushing a more comprehensive approach is outrageous, even for Katie Hill. https://t.co/1LUgxsrShD
— Matt Whitlock (@mattdizwhitlock) February 14, 2020
Ernst wants to work towards a compromise solution that will work for both sides, but instead Democrats would rather manipulate female voters as they often do by way of suggesting Republicans – including Republican survivors – don’t care about domestic violence victims.
Just imagine for five seconds this same line of attack being used by Republicans and Republican activists against a Democratic woman in the House or Senate. The sirens would be blasting at CNN and MSNBC and we’d have non-stop coverage and analysis as to What It All Means™ for days on end. Other Republicans would be called on to condemn the attacks. #WarOnWomen would be trending again.
That supposedly “pro-woman” Democrats and progressive activists like Hill are taking this despicable line of attack on Ernst knowing she spoke last year of her own horrific experiences with domestic violence and rape is absolutely appalling, and they should be roundly condemned by all sides.
Don’t hold your breath on that one, though, because when it comes to Republican women, Democrats (and their media allies) continue to demonstrate that their “respect” for women’s voices only pertains to the voices of women who march with them in lockstep.