U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono, Democrat of Hawaii, is under attack.

She stands for women, both as a champion of a woman’s right to choose and as a defender of those who have been sexually assaulted; she fought Trump and the Republicans in defense of the Affordable Care Act, against the Muslim ban and the Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination. She is being attacked because she has become one of the most eloquent and effective voices of the values Indivisible Hawaii cherishes.

The attack comes not only from rightwing ideologues, it now comes from Hawaii’s own member of the House of Representatives, Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat who on Friday announced her candidacy for the presidency. Her article in The Hill accuses Democratic Party members of the Senate Judiciary Committee of “fomenting religious bigotry” and “weaponizing religion” during their questioning of nominee Brian Buescher to the U.S. District Court in Nebraska.

This thinly veiled attack on Sen. Hirono, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee which is responsible for approving judicial nominees, is a ludicrous assertion and a stunning act of hypocrisy on the part of Rep. Gabbard. The assertion is that Hirono is a religious bigot because of questions designed to reveal a nominee’s clear record of anti-choice activism as a barrier to his appropriateness for a judicial appointment.

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

This attack is not only inaccurate, it exposes Gabbard’s self-serving attempt to project herself as a defender of religious freedom — a position which is inconsistent with her own actions. Rather than align herself with India’s overt right-wing Hindu Nationalists or Syria’s Assad, we suggest Rep. Gabbard follow Sen. Hirono as a model of both authentic patriotic behavior and defense of civil rights.

Members of Indivisible Hawaii and other groups have visited Sen. Hirono’s offices, as well as those of the other members of Hawaii’s Congressional delegation, dozens of times since President Donald Trump’s Jan. 20, 2017, inauguration. We know firsthand that she has championed our beliefs because we have talked with her and her staff many times. We have followed her votes, watched her on television, read her Facebook Page and emails, and attended her town halls.

Sen. Hirono immigrated to Hawaii as a child and understands from personal experience the challenges faced by immigrants. She is the first Buddhist to serve in the Senate. Her years of public service establish a record which, in particular, show her to be a defender of religious tolerance as well as the values of democratic government and the rule of law upon which our country depends.

We witnessed what Gabbard did at, during, and after the Democratic Party Convention ion 2016 to attack not Trump or the Republicans, but former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party. Since Trump’s election Gabbard’s silence in response to Trump’s efforts to dismantle the institutions of our democracy has been deafening and stands in stark contrast to Sen. Hirono’s forthright, clear and courageous actions to fight the racist, misogynist, and authoritarian actions of Trump and the GOP. The Hill article mimics her past behavior — why does she choose to do this again?

As we fight to preserve our democracy unity is more important than ever. An attack on Sen. Mazie Hirono as a champion of progressive values in the Democratic Party is an attack on all of us who want to take our country back. We must stand with Sen. Hirono and other champions of democracy to be successful.

Editor’s note: Indivisible Hawaii is one of 6,000 Indivisible chapters across the country seeking to hold members of Congress accountable in fighting the Trump agenda “of racism, bigotry, misogyny and authoritarianism.” Email to indivisiblehawaii@gmail.com.

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