The tactic of congressional conservatives, of portraying Sonia Sotomayor as a reverse racist for her ‘wise Latina’ comment, has so many holes in it that you could make a Swiss cheese sandwich with it.
First of all, her statement about the wisdom gained by members of oppressed and discriminated-against groups didn’t have anything to do with race. It had to do with belonging to oppressed and discriminated-against groups. The thesis that if you have that background and you overcome it, the experience builds character, is unexceptional. It would be true for poor whites in a wealthy non-white country. It isn’t about race as an essence but about the experience of being discriminated against on an ascriptive basis.
And then there is the little problem that most of these conservative senators and congressmen supported Charles Pickering for the Federal fifth circuit.
Eighty prominent historians pointed out at that time that “members of the Senate are (or should be) aware of the facts involved in Judge Pickering’s intervention on behalf of a man convicted of burning a cross in Mississippi— an action that several independent legal ethics experts have called a flat-out violation of the ethics code for federal judges.”
So when Sotomayor is shown to have intervened to save a cross-burner (and remember, it was an African-American family that was the target, and the act was intended to terrorize them), then Orrin Hatch can show high dudgeon. His reaction to Pickering’s defeat?
BOB SCHIEFFER, host: . . . Senator Hatch, President Bush’s nominee for the appellate court, Mr. Pickering, has been turned down. What’s going to be the fallout from that?
Senator ORRIN HATCH (Republican, Utah): Well, it’s a real tragedy because here was a man who really was rated well qualified by the organization the Democrats called the gold standard–that’s the American Bar Association. That’s the highest rating they give. This fellow had served 12 years with distinction in Mississippi and had a reputation as being one who, when–when it was really tough to do, lived up to civil rights and then… (- Face the Nation,March 17, 2002)
Then there was the conservatives’ support for Strom Thurmond, who ran on an Apartheid platform for president in 1948, blaming all America’s problems on social mixing of the races (while concealing that he had fathered a child on his black maid).
What was Lindsey Graham’s view of Strom Thurmond, for most of his life an avowed racist? “People want to freeze him in time, they want to freeze him in the 1940s,” said Republican Rep. Lindsey Graham, who will succeed Thurmond in the Senate.” (- AP, December 6, 2002)
Then Lindsey Graham ragged on Sotomayor as having a ‘temperament problem’ and going off on people.
Let’s just remember that journalists were taken aback by Graham’s rage during a ‘Meet the Press’ episode, with AP writing, “An impromptu troop surge debate turned into a temper surge.”
“Just wash your hands of Iraq,” an animated Graham said to the war critics, including the Democrat seated to his immediate right. “History will judge us, my friend.”
“It’s been a hard month, Lindsey,” Webb commiserated, wearing a tight smile. “You need to calm down, my friend.”
“Lindsey’s had a hard month,” Webb repeated.
“It ain’t about Lindsey having a hard month,” Graham snapped.’ (- AP, July 15, 2007
So the real issue seems to be that conservatives are awfully forgiving of wise old white guys who used to be either racists themselves, who had helped ruin thousands of lives with their bigotry, or who did favors for cross-burners.
But let a minority member take pride in overcoming the disabilities that come with minority status, and, well, that is unforgivable.
End/ (Not Continued)