Sunday, July 12, 2009

Judging Sonia.

So, by the time most of ya'll are reading this, the Senate confirmation hearings for Justice Sonia Sotomayor will be underway. As you know, I personally was rooting for President Obama to choose a black woman for the seat, but upon further examination, I have no issues with Sotomayor, and think she'll be a fine pick. You certainly cannot question the woman's judicial record or her level of experience and qualifications. So that leaves only one trump card for her detractors on the right to play. Yep, you guessed it: race.

I'm sure that Sotomayor's comments about being a "wise Latina" and "an affirmative action baby" will overshadow the nearly 3,000 rulings she has under her belt. The proverbial 3rd rail of American discourse will be traipsed over repeatedly, as a woman of remarkable accomplishments is essentially reduced to little more than a recipient of race-based favor.


The spectacle of watching a perfectly qualified woman have to defend herself, and prove herself on such a large stage will surely be must-watch TeeVee, even for those of us on the Day Job. And watching dozens of white men try to paint this accomplished woman as totally unable to reason or think fairly beyond the issue of race is what's most amazing.

I've heard Sotomayor assailed as "always dwelling on issues of race" and "trapped in a time when race mattered too much" on talk shows and blogs of all political angles. And that's just silly. How come white men (who comprise 90 some percent of all SCOTUS appointments to date) aren't ever taken to task for seeing the world through a white and male lens? Why aren't white men ever analyzed through the prism of "identity politricks"? How many times will we hear the words "MLK" and "judged not by the color of their skin", which seems to be the only thing many Conservatives ever heard King say?[1] How come Sotomayor has to prove that she has "mainstream" views, and what the f*ck exactly is a "mainstream" view anyway?

I suspect Sotomayor, when all is said and done, will easily be confirmed, but that doesn't mean her detractors won't do any and everything in their meager power to try and get her to crack and admit that she "sees the world through a different lens". As if a different lens is somehow less fair, less "mainstream", less American.

Sorry for the rambling, but it's days like this that make the notion of "a long overdue discussion on race" such a stoopid pool of buzzword soup. Until all sides can come to the table with open and honest intentions, such a discussion won't ever happen. I suspect the next few days will be emblematic of this issue.

Keep your head up, Sonia.

Question: Do you think the Sotomayor confirmation hearings will get contentious? Why are only minorities ever asked to "explain away their race", while whites largely get a pass?

[1] Boy, if they ever got ahold of some of King's other speeches that weren't so "let's all get along"-ish, they might quit quoting that one line ad nauseum. Heck, the "I Have A Dream" speech itself had plenty of other lines that might make some of these guys reconsider name dropping him to prove their pointless points.

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