She’s a Spicy Tamale!

sonia_sotomayorAnd so it begins.  Even before Sonia Sotomayor was picked by Obama as his first SCOTUS nominee, the monkeys started howling about how unfit she was.  I blogged about the indignation here.  In that entry, I deconstructed what racism feels like (as much as I could) and how white privilege is rampant and unexamined (by certain people) in our society.

Now, Obama has actually made his pick, and it’s Sonia Sotomayor.  Predictably, the reaction on the right has been, “She’s an affirmative action pick!  She’s an activist judge!”  The more egregious quotes are of the, “here’s hoping she can get past her gender, racial, class issues and judge impartially” variety.  The chief idiot of the global climate change deniers, Senator James Inhofe, says that he hopes she can get past the gender, racial thing.  So do other Republicans.  Because, as we know, white men are never influenced by their race or gender, oh no.  Or their political ideologies–nope nope.  In fact, for any conservative who wants to natter on the objectivity of the Supreme Court, I have one thing to say to you, “Gore v. Bush!”  Suck on that.  That ruling was so flawed, even the SCOTUS said, “Hey, man, don’t base any future court rulings on this decision.”  

A commenter at Balloon Juice asked rather plaintively what Sonia Sotomayor would have to do to be considered legitimate.  In the eyes of the GOP?  Nothing.  There is no way they would consider her legitimate–oh, unless she was GOP presidentially-approved.  In the mind of the Southern old, crotchety white men party, there is nothing a person of color or a woman or a queer or someone who is disabled or an atheist or, really, anybody other than their narrow definition of pure ‘Publican base can do to be legitimate, unless the member of said discounted classes renounce their true selves and start spewing the Republican line.  See, Malkin, Michelle for a good example of that.  See, Keyes, Alan as well.   That is why I never considered being a Republican, not for a minute.  I don’t hate myself that much.

By the way, John fucking Yoo wrote an op-ed railing against Sonia Sotomayor.  Really, John?  Mr. Torture Memos who says the president has the right to crush a child’s testicles if need be?  Who clerked for and praised Clarence Thomas for his, wait for it, empathy?  So did Republican Congress people, just FYI.  See, that’s another thing that pissed me off.  All the shit the right is saying now contradicts the shit they said when it was their people they wanted to set into place, like Alberto Gonzalez.  

That is neither here nor there.  What is here or there is that Sonia Sotomayor will most likely be confirmed after a long, drawn-out battle.  There really is very little for the Republicans to do other than to fillibuster her, and that would be detrimental to their already-tarnished image.   However, that is not going to stop them.  The epitome of their stupidity is this guy (not going to link to it.  Gonna link to a link making fun of it, and then you can click on the actual link if you like.  Read the section called, Pronunciation Guide).  He doesn’t want to pronounce her last name the way she pronounces it because it’s so dang foreign to him.  They should have to assimilate to us.  And what’s his name?  Mark Krikorian.  Sounds pretty damn foreign to me.  I’m going to call him Mark Smith from now on.  

Newt is railing against Judge Sotomayor.  Rush is railing against her.  The new meme is that she is a reverse racist because she said this:

I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.


Now, taking out of context, I can see how there might be a barely perceptible hint of racial…ok, no, I can’t.  However, I can see how someone who is of the majority can see how this looks like reverse racism.  Rush used this one quote to go on a rant about how Judge Sotomayor is such a racist.  The thing is, she was giving a speech on being a Latina judge.  The text for the whole speech is here.    She was not saying that a Latina is smarter or better than a white man.   She is saying that someone’s background shapes how she sees the world.  This is only breaking news if you’ve never had to question your background as you view the world.  Here are two breakdowns of this meme and why it is so fucking wrong.  More yet, it’s stupid for the right to use this as their attacking point because they are already losing the votes of people who are, quite frankly, not old, white, rich and super-religious.  

I could list her resume and point out all the reasons that she is an exceptional woman.  It doesn’t matter to the GOP (and to some of the Dems, I dare say.  Yes, bitter PUMAs, I’m looking at you).  That is why I am trying not to get too upset over the squawkers–they’re dying out.  There will always be racism and intolerance and sexism and homophobia (I bet the next meme will be that she’s a closet lesbian), but they are all slowly ebbing away.

The sad thing is that with all this focus on her identity, there is very little real vetting about her decisions.  The SCOTUS blog helps remedy that a bit by going over some of her legal opinions.  The other thing that hasn’t got much play is the fact that she will be the sixth Catholic on the Supreme Court.  That is the one detail about her that bothers me.  I would love to see a person with no religious affiliation on the SCOTUS, but I think we will have an openly queer judge before an atheistic or agnostic one.

In the end, though, I am going to wait and see.  I will read up more on her and decide for myself whether or not she will be a good–oh, wait.  One more interesting factor at play here.  She’s a very warm person.  When I saw her talk, I immediately noticed a vibrancy around her.  I think it’s the New Yorker in her.  It’s going to be interesting to see how she shakes up the Supreme Court.  

In the end, my discouragement is based on the fact that white male privilege is still hanging on in American society.   The very idea that a Latina might be as competent if not more so than a white male shouldn’t cause such an outrage.  The fact that it does disappoints me and tells me that we still have so much work to do on these issues.  The people on the right look at Sonia Sotomayor and think the only reason she’s been picked is because of her race (it was widely assumed that the next SCOTUS would be female, so we’ve made some headway on that issue).   Hopefully, it’s just one more reason the GOP will be in the wilderness for some time to come.

4 Responses to She’s a Spicy Tamale!

  1. Excellent points – thanks! I’m hopeful for Sotomayer’s confirmation.

    I also hope that her attackers put themselves WAY out on their respective limbs, and get all of their racist and sexist views exposed in bright lights. And then I hope they SHUT UP.

  2. Brilliant as usual! And I had the same thought as you: what judge, what person for that matter, isn’t influenced by their gender, race, personal life, personal history and experience? This is what makes us all different. If not, there would only be one political party, everyone would vote the same way, everyone would make the same choices and all judges would give the same opinion.

    I say, make the Supreme Court a mix of gender, religion, race and background and maybe, just maybe, they will come up with a balanced decision on each case.

    BTW: her confirmation would give us a mostly Catholic Court. Should this worry me?

  3. Choolie, the general consensus is that she will be easily confirmed, barring an unforeseen revelation. It’s just discouraging that anybody but a white man is considered an affirmative action pick.

    Jamie, yes, but those who are in the majority don’t have to think about their background and personal history quite as much, although Judge Alito said a similar thing about empathy when he was confirmed. Funny, but it was seen as a good thing at the time.

    I am worried about six Catholics on the Court. I don’t like it, especially the extremely conservative Catholics. There should be at least one person who is not affiliated with a religion (not in my lifetime). There should also be a non-Christian, such as a Jew, a Muslim, a Buddhist (that would be really interesting)or a Hindu. I think it’s possible that a Jew will be appointed in my lifetime, but not one of the other religions.