When he isn’t spinning conspiracy theories, destroying faith in judicial system, or baselessly accusing his political foes of corruption, Senator Sheldon Whitehouse is probably relaxing in one of three posh all-white clubs. If one has any sympathy for him, or believes bringing up his associations is unfair, let’s remember Whitehouse is only being asked to live by his own standards.
When a reporter asked the senator about his cloistered racial lifestyle, Whitehouse claimed that such clubs have “a long tradition in Rhode Island and there are many of them and I think we just need to work our way through the issues.” Hey, free association, and all that. Last year, however, Whitehouse, along with a number of senators — including Kamala Harris — treated members of the Knights of Columbus, a 140-year-old fraternal Catholic charitable organization steeped in tradition, as if it they were in a secret cabal of seditious papists. “Since 2011, you have been a member of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal organization limited only to men,” Whitehouse asked district court nominee, Peter Phipps, six questions about his membership — including, whether he had sworn an oath to uphold the organization’s mission. All of it was meant to intimate some unholy allegiance. Now, of course, this is not the first time a New England WASP has treated American Catholics like foreign interlopers or chosen to join clubs with other high-born members of his tribe, but really, all of it is a bit on the nose.
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