Saturday, May 30, 2009

Conservatives launch attack on Obama's supreme court pick.

The Republicans simply don't have the votes to block Sotomayer, so I believe what we are witnessing is an attempt to shore up their base and perhaps give their coffers a chance to be filled by playing on the notion that what Gingrich describes as "a new racism" is actually what we are witnessing.

Prominent Republicans and conservative interest groups have unleashed a campaign to portray President Barack Obama's supreme court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, as racist for suggesting that white men don't always make the best judges and un-American for using a Spanish pronunciation of her name.

What Obama has portrayed as Sotomayor's strength as an American of Puerto Rican descent raised in the Bronx who made it to Princeton and Yale, bringing areas of experience and understanding not immediately evident among the white male majority on the supreme court, is being played by her opponents as evidence that she was nominated because she has a racial agenda.

For a party that needs to attract more women and Latinos, if they have to have any chance of being re-elected, I regard this as another example of the suicidal nature of the rump which are left representing the present Republican party.

For example, to attack Sotomayer for using a Spanish pronunciation of her name strikes me as particularly racist. I know of no other society on Earth where people celebrate the richness of their backgrounds more than Americans do. Irish-Americans and Italian-Americans are incredibly proud of their Irish and Italian roots, so why do certain people make an exception when Sotomayer celebrates hers?
Critics are also using Sotomayor's pronunciation of her own name as a stick to beat her. The judge, whose parents hail from the Spanish-speaking US territory of Puerto Rico, uses a Hispanic pronunciation. Some critics have taken up a call by a prominent conservative magazine, the National Review, arguing that she should Anglicise it. The writer, Mark Krikorian, said that "there ought to be limits" to the demands made on English-speakers to try and pronounce foreign names.
Again, there is it, the "new racism" of which Gingrich spoke. "There ought to be limits" on the demands made on English speakers. It's all becoming too hard for the "English speaker", for which one should really read "the white guy."

That is what they are saying when they attack one sentence taken horribly out of context:

"I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experiences, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life," she said. "Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging."

To some Americans, Sotomayor's comments appear self-evident. They point to the personal experience that Thurgood Marshall brought as a black man elevated to the supreme court during the civil rights era. But conservatives said her comments are evidence that she will be biased against whites and men.

This really is the imaginary world the Republicans are seeking to portray, a world where any white person who isn't satisfied with his lot is allowed to pretend that he lives in a world driven mad by political correctness where the rules are now stacked against him.

And I am sure there are certain sections of American society where this apparent victimhood will carry some resonance, it was certainly an attitude one witnessed at Sarah Palin rallies in the final days of the campaign, where facts seemed to matter not a jot and the campaign became a focal point for a vague sense of anger at an America that her supporters didn't understand but felt sure was slipping away from them.

This, again, appears to be the seam that the Republicans wish to mine.

But they are talking to themselves. Much as this might please their base, it will strike many people as simply repulsive. There is no "new racism" and Gingrich is playing to the very worst part of the Republican base when he pretends that there is.


I am glad that Booman has come to a similar conclusion to my own:
And here's the thing. Normally, political advocates argue their case in a way that they think will ultimately help their party win elections. Sometimes, their desire to win leads them to trim their sails a bit about how they really feel. But these Republicans are letting it all hang out without any regard whatsoever for the essentially suicidal rhetoric they are using.
That is exactly what I think. They really are being suicidal in the way they are approaching this.

Click title for full article.

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