Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Wise Latina

A couple of comments on this issue. First, it is pretty clear that Judge Sotomayor will be confirmed--the Dems have an overwhelming majority in the Senate; the GOP doesn't seem to have the cajones to really stand up and oppose her; and I don't really think there is a lot to be concerned about other than the obvious ideological differences.

Except for that question about racism.

Sotomayor finds herself under intensifying scrutiny for saying in 2001 that a female Hispanic judge would often reach a better decision than a white male judge. This statement came out in a speech at Berkeley (aka, "Moscow-by-the-sea") in 2001. Certainly, on the face of it, such a statement at the very least borders on racism. Is there a contextual component to what she said? Of course, but I'm not sure it makes a big difference.

To quote her more fully:
"Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences ... our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging ... I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage."

I can't really disagree with that--we are human, and we all have different life experiences, which affect how we view the world around us. They can be useful to us, and they can also be a terrible hindrance to us.

She goes on to wonder
" . . . whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society."

She then concludes with the controversial statement itself: "I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life."

That different people perceive these comments differently is perhaps evidence of Sotomayor's point. But it is one thing to make commonsensical observations about the difficulty of overcoming our personal prejudices; as a judge, however, I expect someone--man, woman, Latina, Asian--to not celebrate these differences, but to strive mightily to transcend them.

What exactly does "a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences" mean? Do all Latina women (isn't that a little redundant? are there any Latino women out there?) have the same rich experiences? Isn't this at the very least prejudicial?

As far as her "compelling" story goes, one commenter notes
The woman grew up in the capital of the world, went to two Ivy League schools, and was blessed by Providence with the precisely correct right race-gender two-fer for the moment. This is a story of privilege, dammit, not adversity. Show me a Montana girl of un-useful ethnicity who put herself through law school waiting tables, after being left with two young children when her Army husband was killed overseas, and I'll start oohing and aahing over her compelling story.

And it's not just angry white guys who have taken notice. Even Obama is concerned about Sotomayor's choice of words, stating to NBC news, "I'm sure she would have restated it."

Senator John Cornyn, who has criticized Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich for their recent comments on the controversy, had this to say:

“The American ideal is that justice should be colorblind. As we see people like Barack Obama achieve the highest office in the land and Judge Sotomayor’s own nomination to the highest court, I think it is harder and harder to see the justifications for race-conscious decisions across the board.”

Sounds pretty reasonable to me. And he didn't even have to think about his choice of words.


Anonymous said...

"...who put herself through law school waiting tables, after being left with two young children when her Army husband was killed overseas"

And I bet she waited those tables from her iron lung with the help of the family's one-eyed dog, Lucky.

I defer to Mr. Edroso (who almost never fails to crack me up):

"... Sonia Sotomayor continues to derange whitey. John Derbyshire replicates an alleged reader mail complaining that Sotomayor's is a "story of privilege" because the slum in which she grew up was located in "the capital of the world." (I have to visit the bank tomorrow and explain that, as I have lived over 30 years in the capital of the world, I am a solid risk for a six-figure loan. While I'm at it I'll apply for a full scholarship to Columbia, and head-of-the-class status. Last name's Spanish, you know.)"

Said correspondent then tells a tale -- perhaps her own, perhaps wholly constructed -- of a "Montana girl of un-useful ethnicity who put herself through law school waiting tables, after being left with two young children when her Army husband was killed overseas." "Un-useful ethnicity" we have to assume means white (this is National Review, after all; no surprise Blackfoot supremacy may be expected), and since she later goes on about "her non-Ivy institution," we can assume that's also part of the complaint. You can't get anywhere in this country unless you're swarthy Ivy; white people from Ohio State are screwed.

If she is the heroine, she should be proud of her accomplishments. But she conveys no pride -- only bitterness that "such a person would never ever end up on any President's short-list." So either she has made the whole thing up or, if the story is real, the Montana girl (why not "gal," I wonder? It would have added some honky spice) takes no pleasure in her achievements because she has not risen as befits them, for which she blames people of "the precisely correct right race-gender two-fer for the moment" and their Negro enablers, not herself.

This is the lowest kind of racist horseshit, peddled for years by grifter-bigots looking for votes or blood: the White Deer kept low while uppity darkies usurp. The National Review crowd swoon over Derbyshire because he knows math and plays up the English eccentric bit, usually sounding like a cross between Enoch Powell and Commander McBragg. If they had any real guts they'd replace or supplement him with a someone who does the same bit in the voice of Larry the Cable Guy and see how that goes over. (I hear Don Surber is available.)"

I love it when Derbyshire (who thinks women lose their sexiness after age 15, then went on to defend this remark by quoting statistics about rape!) does his "jes' plain folks" schtick. Why, he's mighty annoyed! I bet that just frosts his britches, or whatever the good ol' boys down at th' Nat'nal Reeeview say these days. Our Imaginary Western Jurist is bitter about Sonia Sotomayor, but the fact that George W. Bush, Yalie, appointed two white males (Princeton/Yale Law and Hahvahd/Hahvahd Law) seems to have escaped her. She seems also to have missed out on every government-funded program that would have made her own life easier--military death gratuity, VA pension, extended medical and dental care for herself and her children, Defense Department-sponsored survivor benefits, low-cost student loans and grants, as well as work/study programs which would have allowed her to find a less menial job more in line with her career path. We have no idea whether the larger picture--that she lives in the Empty Quarter of the US, the kingdom of Federal Oil, Water, and Mineral Rights, where the average return per federal tax dollar sent to Washington in 2005 was $1.58, or where her low-population-density neighbors have enjoyed for a century an influence over presidential elections far out of proportion to their actual numbers--ever occurs to her. So, yeah, I can see where she'd blame the insidious Puerto Rican Ivy League Cabal.

Indeed-ing is mandatory. Heh-ing is optional.

Small Town Doc said...

Wow. The Edroso guy went on and on (until somewhat hit him with the Haldol) about a hypothetical scenario, and even blasts it as "racist horseshit!" I did not see in his reply (nor yours) anything about why Ms. Sotomayor's comment isn't racist horseshit.

I also like the way he completely nullifies the fictional character. You know, if you come from the "Empty Quarter," and you don't send enough of your money back inside the Beltway like those more deserving New Yorkers do, then you shouldn't have any outsized "influence" (excuse me, but WTF?) over how our country is governed. Shades of Lani Guinier, indeed.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the indeed, sorry we didn't get a heh...

Anonymous said...

in response to breaking news of Tiller shooting (at my new fave place to visit, Redstate):

"We celebrate the breaking the laws every time the media canonizes Rosa Parks. She broke the law. There is no question of that. The question is whether it was the ethical thing to do (it was.) We celebrate the Nazi resistance, we celebrate the Tiananmen Square uprising. I’m sure those were all illegal actions, yet were unquestionably the moral things to do. So how would killing a killer, when all options are exhausted, not also be the right thing to do?

You have to wonder if the reason why we have a legal system is in order to steal the oxygen from moral vigilantism. You have to wonder if the legal system breaks down whether vigilantism, when all other options fail, becomes a moral imperative.

The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race - Chief Justice Roberts"

Absolutely loooove bringing Rosa Parks in to the action.

Do you think the shooter qualifies as culture warrior?

Small Town Doc said...

Yeah--I caught that. From Crooks and Liars, one of my fave places to visit.

I don't think you want to go down that road, do you? You know, the one where you assume that the commenters on a blog represent the actual mainstream of political thought? 'Cause I got a whole lot of comments to show you--some of them from CaL!

Since neither you nor the good people at CaL read the original post, let me quote it for you:

It is entirely the wrong thing to do though, achieves nothing to save lives, and must be prosecuted vigorously. The rule of law matters.Heh.

Anonymous said...

Complete context is always important for batshit crazy rightwing blog posters, but should never be taken into account for the President, or his first scotus nominee... indeedy!

Anonymous said...

Best post on Tiller issue so far:

Cheney was right,: Obama failed to torture people, and now we've had a terrorist attack on the United States by crazy fundamentalists.

Small Town Doc said...

Where was that "best post" from? The one about something that Cheney didn't say?

So let's see--5 comments and not one of them addressed what Ms. Sotomayor had to say about race . . .

I still think you are a GREAT AMERICAN, my friend.