Men who mistreat women must suffer legitimate consequences. Yet, white hot sexism shapes the molten core of Pennsylvania’s most powerful public service. Discrimination adds fuel to the misogynistic fire U.S. Sen. Robert P. Casey Jr. and U.S. Rep. Matt Cartwright light each time they discriminate against women.
Since these two Democrats no longer respond to my questions I can only wonder if Casey and Cartwright continue their segregationist practice of attending and enabling bigotry at the all-male and overwhelmingly white ethnic dinner founded by President Joe Biden’s great-grandfather. As featured speaker, Biden has attended the Lackawanna County Friendly Sons of St. Patrick dinner three times.
I’ve written about the dinner’s unequal opportunity for about 25 years. But for the past few years my congressman and senator ignore all my written questions about the power imbalance, blackballing me even though we’ve conducted amicable interviews in the past.
I supported Cartwright’s initial bid for Congress when other Democrats treated him like the political party outlier he was at the time.
During the decade I hosted a daily local radio talk show I even met with Casey in his Scranton office to talk about his embarrassing bias. At the end of our meeting he agreed he and other powerful men would likely one day change their ways, extending equal political and business opportunity to women.
When Casey failed to denounce the group’s male chauvinism, I publicly protested, walking back and forth outside his downtown office carrying a large, green-painted wooden shamrock on a picket sign.
My professional exchanges with Casey and Cartwright stopped when I ramped up my attack on their shameful gender discrimination.
Sexism alone is reason enough to expel Cartwright from the Congressional Progressive Caucus, a crucial legislative body that requires members to uphold the goal of “advancing justice, dignity and peace for all.”
Casey is no progressive but hopefully believes in his own Democratic Party platform that stands “committed to ensuring full equality for women. Democrats will fight to end gender discrimination in the areas of education, employment, health care, or any other sphere. We will combat biases across economic, political, and social life that hold women back and limit their opportunities.”
OK, so anti-abortion zealot Casey wants to overturn Roe v. Wade, the law that offers the safe and legal constitutional right for a woman to end a pregnancy. But when it comes to reproductive rights, Democrats always give a Casey a pass.
Women in Northeastern Pennsylvania largely ignore the discrimination their husbands, fathers, brothers, judges, lawmakers, political opponents, business associates and other alpha/beta/zeta males launch against them.
The Irish Women’s Society even started their own dinner in Scranton that allows men to attend. Men running for public office often show up at both events. But women political candidates and their female supporters can only campaign at their own green gala. Campaign contributions there easily pale in comparison to the money male candidates raise at the no-girls-allowed gathering.
Back in September 2019, Cartwright wrote on Facebook that he “Had a wonderful conversation today with Dr. Mary Frances Berry on the best ways we can drive change in our country and strive for progress. Thank you for your wise words, Dr. Berry!”
Before Berry’s appearance with Cartwright at the Milford Readers & Writers Festival to discuss how “History Teaches Us to Resist,” the professor, human rights advocate and former chair of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and I communicated about Cartwright’s pattern of gender discrimination. Berry said she would ask Cartwright about my concerns.
After her discussion with Cartwright, Berry got back to me and said, “I discussed this with his staff and him before the open session. Apparently, Wilkes Barre hasn’t enforced policy since elected officer or honoree bought female relative. Sounds like the tradition won’t be changed official but perhaps someone could bring a female relative for starters. Just a thought.”
Did Cartwright purposefully mislead Berry by referencing a different dinner in another city and not the one Biden’s great-grandfather founded that Cartwright had faithfully attended and endorsed?
True to form, Cartwright’s not saying.
So what about this year? The 2021 dinner is virtual. No easier way exists to host the more-than-a-century-old dinner’s first woman guest than on a computer screen. Will Friendly Sons organizers invite Democrat Paige Gebhardt Cognetti, Scranton’s first female mayor? Vice President Kamala Harris? First Lady Jill Biden? Will Casey, Cartwright and Joe Biden advocate this historic change? Or will these privileged Democratic white men once again turn their backs on the somber promise tied to the credibility of their own party platform?
Like Hillary Clinton said, “Women’s rights are human rights.”