Sonia Sotomayor Is A Poor Example Of Racism
People who applauded the fact that Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, with her somewhat less than impeccable and rather questionable record of national level executive political experience that was somehow the equivalent of the man who would become President, was the most perfect choice to lead the Republican Party to the routing it received that first Tuesday night back in November of 2008 are now saying that Sonia Sotomayor isn’t qualified to be a Supreme Court. While the political right was happy to see Ms. Palin entrench herself into the good graces of hardworking typical Americans with eye winks to the camera and a shout out and a promise of extra credit to the students in some way off elementary school’s second grade classroom, these same people are doing their best to give Ms. Sotomayor the equivalent of a political beat down.
The party with all the racial diversity of a Ronald Reagan movie is now pointing at Mr. Obama’s choice to be the next justice on the Supreme Court as a racist. If confirmed she would be the court’s first Hispanic and only the third woman to enjoy such a post, one of only five people not be a white male. The Republicans have a variety of reasons to justify the rejection of Ms. Sotomayor. Controversial conservative talk radio personality Rush Limbaugh called Ms. Sotomayor a reverse racist. Mr. Limbaugh, who never spares any effort when stirring up the Republican faithful, said he hopes Ms. Sotomayor fails. Mitt Romney called the nomination of Ms. Sotomayor troubling because she has made a statement indicating she has an expansive view of the role of the judiciary. Mr. Romney said that the American public deserves is a judge who will put the law above her own personal political philosophy.
Most of the people against Ms. Sotomayor’s nomination point to a line from a 2001 speech to a Hispanic group in Berkeley, California as proof of Ms. Sotomayor’s activist potential when she was describing how life experiences can help formulate judicial opinion. Ms. Sotomayor said, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”
Newt Gingrich called Ms. Sotomayor an overt racist asking people to imagine a white male judicial nominee saying his experience as a white man makes him better than a Latina woman. Mr. Gangrich said new racism is no better than old racism and if a white man racist would be forced to withdraw then a Hispanic woman should also withdraw.
What racist white person has ever been forced to withdraw from government service? George Allen stood on stage during a campaign rally and referred to a minority in the audience using a racial slur. Bill Bennett suggested that it would be abhorrent but if you wanted to reduce crime abort all black babies. Sarah Palin said that she doesn’t care about black people and as Governor she wasn’t about to hire black people on her staff. George Wallace stood in front of a school blocking the entrance to keep black people out. Mr. Wallace went on to win the office of Governor of Alabama several times after that. John McCain, the Republican Party nominee for the presidency, referred to some Asians as gooks and refused to apologize for the slur.
Only in America can the leadership of a political party whose members to this day continue to ask questions like what has the first black President of the United States done to earn an honorary doctorate from Notre Dame, an honor the school regularly bestows on just about anybody who shows up to give a commencement speech, can flip the script and call anyone who has ever said anything indicating their willingness to buck the racial status quo.
Whether or not the pick of Ms. Sotomayor is actually a wise choice for the benefit of the nation or not has yet to be determined. Most of us never heard of her before she was revealed as Mr. Obama’s top nominee to replace David Souter on the nation’s highest court. Most of us will have to pay close and careful attention to the confirmation process itself and not rely solely on the regurgitated excerpts and commentary from political pundits on all the news shows in order to form an honest opinion.
But it should be no surprise to see the Republicans attack Mr. Obama’s choice with all the vehemence they can muster within minutes after she was announced. For many, a line from a speech about eight years ago saying that she hoped her experience as a Latina woman makes her wiser than a white man is all the proof they need to label her a racist and an activist.
And the fact that Mr. Obama used code words like “empathy” to describe what he wanted to see in a judicial nominee doesn’t help. That was an indication that the President was looking for someone who would actually have enough of a consciousness to consider how his or her ruling would impact people. These people would probably have been happier if Mr. Obama said that he wanted someone who could not care any less about the impact a ruling may effect the population. I know how much I look forward to seeing that kind of judge hearing any case I bring to court.
It should be noted that most of the people trying to paint Ms. Sotomayor as a liberal activist would love to see someone nominated who would support their position on each and every controversial issue that goes before the court. They’d love to see an activist judge for corporate America or for the further dismantling of anything remotely resembling affirmative action or an activist judge ready to support for the status quo that is synonymous with patriarchy and white privilege.