I must confess, until recently I had no idea what a Le Creuset dish was, or why when Kamala Harris purchased one or more of them it was considered by some people to be scandalous. But I couldn’t help seeing something disturbing in back of the complaint. There is a sinister symbolism behind this particular instantiation of the usual Republican pearl-clutching.
For those of you who don’t know, Le Creuset is a manufacturer of colorful and pricey French cookware. It’s of such quality and of high culinary value, I am told, that it should be considered more than just ordinary cookware, it is also an heirloom. Fair enough. I see nothing wrong with that. I don’t normally regard it as my business what any politician does with his or her own money, as long as it isn’t illegal, like paying off a prostitute for her silence, to pick an example at random.
But this virulent criticism of Vice President Harris’ choice of cookware had an odd resonance for me. I was reminded of the Fox News furor over Barack Obama’s tan suit. As with the color of the President’s sartorial selection, I must wonder if the problem Republicans have with Kamala’s choice has less to do with the color of her cookware and more to do with the color of the purchaser. Republicans are always hard on Democrats for the smallest reasons, but they reserve their most corrosive venom for Democrats of color, and especially female Democrats of color.
When you stop to think about it, you would think that Kamala Harris buying costly cookware for comestibles would be encouraged by a group of people who are shamelessly devoted to commerce. Indeed, the “prosperity gospel,” which is a decades old evangelical Christian idea that God wants us to be prosperous and luxuriate in that prosperity, is the driving justification of much Republican greed. But whenever a person of color participates in the glories of capitalism, you can almost hear Republicans muttering under their breath that they’re getting a little “uppity.”
I don’t doubt that most of the hatred of Kamala Harris is one part racism and one part misogyny. There cannot be any other explanation for the unmerited and excessive bile she attracts. Had she been a white male I believe we wouldn’t be hearing any of it.
When you consider what many people put up with from the white-on-white male Mike Pence, I find the contrast disturbing. The current Vice President is a good and decent human being. Pence was and remains an antediluvian asshole. It saddens me to report that gender and race are the most important distinctions between the two Vice Presidents in the medieval minds of far too many Americans. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.