Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s comment that a “wise Latina woman” will make a better decision than a white male judge is well known and, inexplicably to me, didn’t get her branded a racist and disqualified from the bench.
However, now that Donald Trump is taking mega-heat from all sides for saying the judge in his case, who is of Mexican descent, might not be fair to him, another of Sotomayor’s comments, even more on point, needs to be looked at:
“Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences,” she said, for jurists who are women and nonwhite, “our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.”
Note well: She said, “…may and will make a difference in our judging.”
I did a word count of her confirmation hearing. The Senators preening for the cameras outspoke her 67 percent of the time, which is probably why none of those amateur cross-examiners had time to ask her, “Your heritage will affect your judging? How?”
Now comes Donald Trump, who worries that exactly what Sotomayor said will happen is happening to him. What I’m curious about is the cognitive dissonance of the American noosphere when processing Sotomayor’s and Trump’s shared contention. Let’s examine:
Sonia Sotomayor said a judge of Latino heritage will be affected in his judging by being Latino. The American response was to slather ourselves in the self-glory of multiculturalism and put her on the Supreme Court for life.
Donald Trump said what Sonia promised will happen is happening to him now, and America’s response is to say it’s impossible for such a thing to happen and brand him a racist and unfit to serve for even four years.
Same contention — different response.
For the purpose of this piece, I don’t care whether anyone agrees with Donald and Sonia, disagrees, or any other measured, well thought out or careless analysis in the middle. I want to know what causes a society to accept as true a maxim presented by one person who gets rewarded, yet accept the same maxim as impossible to be true when said by another, who gets figuratively tarred and feathered.
I see several possibilities. Perhaps we are so afraid to be mistaken for racist that we won’t disagree with a person of a certain heritage, even if that person herself says something racist. Perhaps we suffer media malpractice in the manner and frequency certain ideas get presented (or media omission of facts and ideas). Perhaps we have short memories. Perhaps we have divided ourselves into such rabid political teams that no one wants to admit their teammate said something wrong.
As for me, I find at least some blame in the harmful little chestnut so often stated that we are “a nation of immigrants.” I put some blame on the idea that assimilation and American culture are not important. I blame Sotomayor and others for putting any significance on bloodline ahead of Americanism.
We are not a “nation of immigrants.” A family legally loses immigrant status with the first generation that was born here. By the second generation born here, they’ve lost most if not all cultural traditions of wherever their ancestors came from.
I speak from experience. My grandparents were born in Italy. My father was born here. I was born in New Jersey and have nothing but American cultural traditions and loyalties. Am I supposed to call mine “an immigrant family?” I’ll damn you for suggesting it. My grandparents were immigrants. The 50 or so people who descended from them were all born and raised here. We are an American family.
It appears schizophrenic when a country at one time screams for diversity, insists upon diversity, legislates diversity, and applauds diversity, but then calls anyone racist who points out that another person is different from them. So what is it? Why is Trump in trouble for using the Sotomayor axiom that a judge’s lineage affects judging, while that same axiom helped her become a judge?