“She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
That was how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell silenced Sen. Elizabeth Warren on the Senate floor Tuesday night. And that was how he gave birth to a new movement.
Warren was reading aloud a letter written by Coretta Scott King, who had opposed then-U.S. Attorney Jeff Sessions’ bid for a federal judgeship in 1986. King described Sessions as a man “who has used the power of his office as United States Attorney to intimidate and chill the free exercise of the ballot by citizens,” particularly “elderly black voters.”
Warren attempted to use King’s words in her fight against Sessions’ latest bid for an undeserved title: attorney general of the United States.
Instead, she was suppressed, through the use of an archaic Senate rule meant to encourage senators to play nice. Apparently it’s not “nice” to point out a colleague’s racism.
Women are tired of being told to be nice. So they took to Twitter.
Using the hashtags #ShePersisted and #LetLizSpeak, Twitter users not only rallied for Warren, but for countless other women who were silenced by men who were afraid of their power and what it could achieve.
They backed Wendy Davis, the former Texas state senator who stood for 11 hours in pink running shoes to fight a Texas bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Malala Yousafzai, who was 15 when she was shot by the Taliban for demanding that girls receive an education. They held up the accomplishments of Rosa Parks, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and King herself.
They designed memes – words emblazoned across photos of Harriet Tubman, Hillary Clinton and the Women’s March on Washington.
They vowed that “we are not going away.”
Warren herself said on Twitter, “I will not be silent about a nominee for AG who has made derogatory & racist comments that have no place in our justice system,” and added that McConnell “silenced Mrs King’s voice on the Sen floor – & millions who are afraid & appalled by what’s happening in our country.”
In a country … No, in a world that is too quick to tell women to sit down, we need more Elizabeth Warrens. We need those Nasty Women, those women who will persist. We need to encourage them to raise their voices.
And that is what Mitch McConnell accomplished Tuesday on the Senate floor.