Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Regarding a Most Banal Point

It's about time someone pointed out the obvious. Isn't empathy a fine quality of any human being? And isn't it a good thing to have a rich experiential background, so that one might aspire to being one's own equivalent of a "wise Latina"? And aren't we all shaped by our experience so that even if we happen to share quite a bit in the ways of values, beliefs and language, there are nonetheless fundamentally unique features of each individual? isn't this, like, a physical and metaphysical truism - that is, we cannot both occupy the same extended space and that distinction itself makes us unique in at least one basic way (i.e., I am here and you are there)?

Why is it that the Republican critics of Sotomayor have gotten away with attempting to subvert such obvious truisms for political gain? Are we still in upside-down land?
[Many] were fixated not on Judge Sotomayor’s 17-year record on the federal bench — she would have the most extensive judicial background of any justice in the past 100 years — but on a few of her speeches suggesting she has been shaped by her experiences and ethnic heritage...

All judges are influenced by how they were raised; the law and the Constitution aren’t mechanical templates, unaffected by perspectives and even prejudices. Why was segregation the law of the land for so long?

Imagine in 1967 criticizing Thurgood Marshall, the great civil rights lawyer who became the first African-American on the high court, for believing that his background would have an impact on his role. Of course it did.

Republicans have recognized that reality in the past. Justice Samuel Alito cited his own family’s immigrant past: “I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender.”...

...unfortunately for Republicans, the dominant memory of those sessions will be of white guys lecturing a Latin woman about ethnicity.
If Republicans want to do themselves a favor, they should rethink their apparent operating assumption that their political opponents should be opposed at every turn, even if the opponent's claim is something along the lines of "the sun rises in the east" or "diamonds are hard" or "water is necessary for life."

No comments: