Why Was Kamala Harris Interrupted, But Not Her Male Colleagues?

Photo: AP Photo/Eric Risberg.
Another day, another time a woman is chastised for doing the exact same thing her male colleagues got away with without criticism.
On Wednesday, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee questioned the leaders of several intelligence agencies about whether President Trump tried to obstruct the investigation into the possible collusion between his campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.
One of the members was Sen. Kamala Harris.
Harris, the second Black woman to ever be elected to the U.S. Senate, served as the attorney general of California before taking her current seat in November. A tough career lawyer who's seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party, Harris is not one to shy from confrontation.
Her exchange with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein showed exactly that. When Harris was asking the deputy AG about the role he played in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey, she asked if Rosenstein would give full independence to special counsel Robert Mueller in the Trump-Russia probe. When he deflected the question, Harris asked forcefully if he could answer with a "yes" or "no."
But instead of letting her finish, Sen. Richard Burr, the committee's chair, cut her off and chastised her. He said members of the committee should "provide the witnesses the courtesy, which has not been extended, fully across, for questions to get answered."
You may think Harris was being unnecessarily aggressive, fulfilling the damaging stereotype of the "angry Black woman." (To which we say, that's bullshit and you're wrong.) But the reality is that other senators spoke just as strongly during today's hearing.
Take Sen. Angus King, for example, who went after NSA Director Michael Rogers for not answering his questions. Or Sen. Martin Heinrich, who furiously told the Rosenstein, "At this point, you filibuster better than most of my colleagues."
But unlike what happened with Harris, no one stepped up to stop King, Heinrich, or any other members of the committee from being assertive in their line of questioning. While the male senators got away with forcefully asking the panel of witness to answer their questions, the only woman of color in the committee was shut down and chastised.
Afterwards, Harris tweeted a video of the exchange and said, "The American people deserve to know whether the special counsel is fully independent. We need the truth. I won't stop until we get it."
Too often, women are told to shut up, and Congress is not the exception. Remember the whole #NeverthelessShePersisted discussion? Female members of Congress deserve the same respect as their male colleagues, and America is way overdue in achieving that simple show of equality.
It's 2017. To Sen. Burr and the others: do better.

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