Wednesday, June 3, 2009

post-race era my ass

Wow. Just wow.

Some people concluded that the election of a black man for president would be the beginning of a post-race era in this country. I think the criticism of Sonia Sotomayor has proven that is not the case.

FYI: I'm a woman and Latina and I cried tears of joy when Obama announced Sotomayor as his SCOTUS nominee.

Maybe I did buy into the post-race hype because I still can't believe how far the GOP has gone to discredit her simply because she is female and Latina. I don't remember race being an issue when Clarence Thomas was nominated (his sexism and incompetence were).

Let's discuss the cartoon. First off, it's from the Oklahoman (I like to source...this is not an implied judgment of Oklahoma). Second, it appears that Sotomayor is supposed to be a piñata. However, she looks like she's being lynched. Moreover, piñatas are Mexican and Sotomayor is Puerto Rican. Not the same country.

This cartoon is NOTHING compared to what the GOP/conservatives are saying. Here's a small sample:

Mike Huckabee: "The appointment of Maria Sotomayor for the Supreme Court is the clearest indication yet that President Obama's campaign promises to be a centrist and think in a bipartisan way were mere rhetoric." Obviously all Latinas are named Maria. Also, Maria and Sonia totally sound the same.

Newt Gingrich: "Imagine a judicial nominee said 'my experience as a white man makes me better than a Latina woman.' Wouldn't they have to withdraw? New racism is no better than old racism." Context is everything. Here's the quote, spoken within the context of the issue of diversity on the bench, "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." I hate that Obama excused this statement by saying that she misspoke. Also in the same speech: "I am reminded each day that I render decisions that affect people concretely and that I owe them constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me requires."  Yup, totally hating on White males.  Regardless, I completely agree with her 'controversial' statement. Women judge differently than men.  The best example I can provide is the SCOTUS decision on "partial-birth" abortion. In the opinion, Justice Kennedy said that the State should make the final decisions about pregnant women’s healthcare, because the State knows better than the woman herself that her “ultimate” role is as a mother. You think a woman would've agreed with that? Heaven forbid that there is one more woman on the SCOTUS that believes women are more than incubators.

Rush: "Here you have a racist — you might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse racist. The libs, of course, say that minorities cannot be racists because they don’t have the power to implement their racism. Well, those days are gone, because reverse racists certainly do have the power. … Obama is the greatest living example of a reverse racist, and now he’s appointed one." Ummm...Rush? WTF is a 'reverse racist'? Are rich, White males so oppressed these days? Also, your White male privilege is showing.

Tom Tancredo: "If you belong to an organization called La Raza, in this case, which is, from my point of view anyway, nothing more than a Latino -- it's a counterpart -- a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses." FYI, Tancredo, Raza doesn't just mean Race, it means family or community. Also, NCLR works to improve opportunity for Latinos so that they can achieve the American Dream but not at the expense of other, non-Latino types. You know, that whole bootstrap pulling sh*t you Republicans like.

G. Gordon Liddy: 'Let's Hope That The Key Conferences Aren't When She's Menstruating." Yes, women are irrational creatures that go insane once a month.  First off, Sotomayor is probably old enough to be menopausal. Secondly, ummm, seriously? Liddy, your misogyny is showing.

Fred Barnes: "I think you can make the case that she’s one of those who has benefited from affirmative action over the years tremendously." Right. So, that whole getting the top academic prize while in Princeton and being the editor of the Yale Law Review have nothing to do with her abilities/intelligence. Next thing you'll tell me is that George Bush Sr had nothing to do with W getting into Ivy League schools. Because W is a Mensa member.

Go ahead and attempt your filibuster. It won't do a damn thing. Sotomayor is going to be a Supreme Court Justice, much to your chagrin. So just take it like a man and deal with it.

20 comments:

Juliet said...

I agree with you that the attacks on Sotomayor are ridiculous and embarrassing. I'm sure she'll be confirmed, and I'm glad there will be another woman on the SCOTUS. I do have to take issue, however, with one little thing you said:

"In the opinion, Justice Kennedy said that the State should make the final decisions about pregnant women’s healthcare, because the State knows better than the woman herself that her 'ultimate' role is as a mother. You think a woman would've agreed with that? Heaven forbid that there is one more woman on the SCOTUS that believes women are more than incubators."

Mothers are a lot more than incubators, thank you (as I know from the richness of my experience). Care to rephrase that last sentence?

Juliet said...

Oh, and this is just a tiny and not particularly important nitpick, but Yale perversely calls its law review the Yale Law Journal, rather than the Yale Law Review like every other law school. Sotomayor was not the editor, but rather an editor, which is basically anyone who's on the staff and doesn't hold a senior position. (My husband was a peon on the staff of two secondary journals the last time he updated his CV and listed his title as "editor" on both of them, which seemed awfully misleading to me, but it is what it is and I think most people who would read his CV know that.) Just being on the journal is an accomplishment, of course, but it isn't quite as exclusive a club as it is at other law schools because Yale's smaller and a larger percentage of the students make it on (or at least that's how it is now, and I don't think the relevant statistics have changed that much in the last 30 years). She published a note in the journal, too, which I think means more than being an editor.

media concepts said...

First, it may have been a bit premature to think that Obama's election ended racism in America. Remember that, even though Obama won, millions of people did not vote for him, and many of them (including Bill Clinton) played the ugly race card against him.

Second, you inadvertently did what the right wing did on purpose: took one sentence of a VERY long speech by Sotomayor out of context. The right wing did it on purpose. The news media adopted the right wing's version out of laziness. Here's what she says just 3 sentences later:

"I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown."

Obviously, then, Judge Sotomayor was NOT expressing a view that gender or ethnicity makes one more qualified to be a judge, or that it colors or should color a judge's rulings. Surely our attention spans are big enough to handle more than just one sentence.

Alex said...

Whenever the media starts talking about "Post" anything, it's time to be skeptical. That being said, the fact that Obama was elected is a huge deal, not to be underestimated. Of course we're not post racial... racism has been with humanity since the beginning of time and will never go away. But it no longer is a driving force in our country.

As for Sotomayor, the usual idiots on the right are squawking. But it's also a huge deal, and very new, that everything they say discredits them further in most people's eyes. The Republican Party is in a panic. We really have turned a corner.

anOCgirl said...

juliet: actually i stand by my statement. the term 'women' would include mothers. i certainly don't want to exclude those of us who are unable to carry a child for biological reasons. if anything, i would change the statement to read, 'women are more than their ability to procreate.' i'm not a mother yet but i imagine that it is a great, fulfilling accomplishment. however, a woman's ultimate goal doesn't have to be motherhood, as justice kennedy implied. there are plenty of childless women who aspired to great things (cough*sotomayor*cough).

i stand corrected on the yale law journal issues. thanks for being nitpicky :)

media concepts: i could've picked a bunch of other quotes from that speech, however, i chose one that acknowledged that her experiences shape her views--something that is not limited to people of color--but she also takes other things into account in order to make the fairest decision she can. however the passage you quoted better explains how 9 white men could come to many fair decisions (and some unfair ones like plessy vs. ferguson).

thanks for linking to the entire speech which i totally should've done. people need to read that and be enlightened.

alex--i don't know. did i buy into the post-race thing? obama's election was a great step forward, and i really did think that things would change. clearly they have not.

as far as the criticism of sotomayor goes, the gop is shooting itself in the foot. the majority of americans have a favorable view of her so who are they influencing?

Juliet said...

Look, I agree with you that not all women need to be mothers to be fulfilled, and certainly it's not the state's business whether any of us aspire to that. But I am still kind of offended that you--not Kennedy, you--made a statement that sounded as if you think motherhood is equivalent to incubation, and I certainly hope you don't stand by that statement, because it's insulting. It is about much more than that--and given what I've read on your blog about your mother, I would expect you of all people to know that. (Not to mention that adoptive mothers, foster mothers, etc. don't even bear their own adopted/foster children, so what does that make them?)

Juliet said...

"i'm not a mother yet but i imagine that it is a great, fulfilling accomplishment."

Just one more thing and then I'm done--I find this sentence a bit odd. Kennedy used the word "role" (or I think he did, based on your indirect quote). I don't think of motherhood as an accomplishment, because I'm not done yet and won't be until I'm dead, and I'm not a mother for the sake of having done it. The pregnancy (incubation!) was terminal, but the role is continuous. And that's why I maintain that your first response to me indicates you still don't quite comprehend where I'm coming from (or necessarily where Kennedy was coming from either--I mean, I disagree with him, but I think he means more by motherhood than you interpret him to mean), although "insulting" was harsh and I apologize for phrasing my statement that way.

anOCgirl said...

juliet: my comments are often sarcastic. this post was dripping in sarcasm. i do not believe that women are incubators. never have. never will.

also, while you may have agreed with the court's decision, i encourage you to read Kennedy's opinion (in the two Carhart cases which dealt with the 'p-b' abortion ban). it's insulting to women to suggest that the government knows best when it comes to women's health decisions and that view is pretty much the gist of the opinion.

as far as your other comment, i definitely didn't use the right word. scratch accomplishment and replace with endeavor. you're right, accomplishment sounds like there's a conclusion when actually it is a long journey. my mom is certainly not done being my mother and i'm 30 years old.

ErikaM said...

Great post. You forget to mention Karl Rove who suggested she wasn't all that smart even though she was Ivy League. I believe the comment was along the lines of there are plenty of Ivy League graduates who aren't intelligent, which of course immediately brings to mind his former half-witted boss.

And Clarence Thomas hearings did inject race - but it was done by Thomas himself when he invoked the lynching metaphor (he said that the Anita Hill inquiry was nothing but a high tech lynching).

None of this should have been a surprise. Republicans default setting has been to delay deny and disrupt Obama's agenda. If he had nominated someone else they would have done the same.

Generation Next said...

Reading this post made me so angry I had to take a minute away. The things you quoted are so vile. It saddens me to think we live in a nation that still says things like this, and yet people, like Alex above, still say "racism is no longer the driving force in our country." Sigh.

White male priviledge is VERY hard to step outside of when you have it. I wrote a post about this awhile back about conversations I've been having with my white male friends.

To Juliet: I don't think OCgirl was herself implying that women are incubators, I think she was saying that men who say things like the state knows better than the woman often consider women to be simply that. Isn't it funny how we get personally offended when someone says something about a trait we ourselves share?

Juliet said...

"juliet: my comments are often sarcastic. this post was dripping in sarcasm. i do not believe that women are incubators. never have. never will."

I never thought you thought that (I thought you meant mothers, not all women), but in any case I think I am clear now. I think my problem was that you assumed Kennedy meant motherhood=incubation when I couldn't see how you would have gotten it simply from what you quoted, so I thought you were the one being reductionist.

"it's insulting to women to suggest that the government knows best when it comes to women's health decisions and that view is pretty much the gist of the opinion."

Oh, I can see that. I have read Roe, and it strikes me that the wording of it is also very paternalistic--definitely not how a woman would have written the decision, don't you think? (Although I am a bit skeptical about the idea of a distinctly feminine way of judging--I know a former [male] clerk for Justice O'Connor who later had quotations from her decisions that he had written cited as examples of her uniquely feminine jurisprudence!--ultimately judges/justices are responsible for their own opinions and I just can't imagine a woman arguing Roe the way Blackmun did.)

instatick said...

Those quotes and that pictures are absolutely disgusting. I just don't get the whole upset to begin with really. Personal experiences SHOULD affect who you are as a person and how you view the world.

Just like GenNext said, white male privilege is hard to see beyond. (In fact, GenNext and I actually talked about that a bit this past Saturday). I just wish there was someway to show people, people who think playing fields are level and that racism, sexism and bigotry are nonexistent or merely hallucinations of "femi-nazis" what it's like to live on the other side of that white pickett fence.

Juliet said...

I must confess, I'm reading over both of Kennedy's Carhart opinions, and while I can see parts you would object to, I'm not sure what it is you're referring to in your original post. Can you provide a quote?

Darren Lenard Hutchinson said...

Conservatives are full of it. They fought for the approval of Rehnquist twice, even though he defended Plessy, urged Justice Jackson to reject the plaintiffs' argument in Brown, and said that the Democratic Party had the constitutional right to hold "all-white" primaries. Also, Scalia has argued that white men are the "real" victims of discrimination. Scalia also argued that the consideration of race by jurors and prosecutors is "real" and "ineradicable" by the Court (even in a life or death situation). These are just a few ways in which other justices have made reference to race or sex.

Juliet: Kennedy's opinion in Carhart substitutes the wisdom of 5 men on the Supreme Court and hundreds of men in Congress for the decisions of thousands of women and their doctors. This is far more dangerous than Sotomayor's comments. His logic is paternalistic and romanticized.

Regarding all of the above, see: Sotomayor's Opponents Apply Racial and Gendered Double-Standard

Juliet said...

"Juliet: Kennedy's opinion in Carhart substitutes the wisdom of 5 men on the Supreme Court and hundreds of men in Congress for the decisions of thousands of women and their doctors. This is far more dangerous than Sotomayor's comments. His logic is paternalistic and romanticized."

Darren, I am defending nothing said against Sotomayor, whose comments I actually find pretty innocuous, and I think I've made it clear I support her nomination and confirmation. I'm asking where, specifically, Justice Kennedy argues that "the State knows better than the woman herself that her 'ultimate' role is as a mother." Kennedy's logic is always romanticized, which is notoriously part of his style, and I've already conceded that his opinions could very well be paternalistic, as any opinion written by a male about women's issues is prone to be. I haven't even said I agree with his decision, although I suppose that's been implied. So I'm not sure what you're trying to convince me of.

anOCgirl said...

erikam: thank you. i know that none of this should be a surprise but it still was, you know? i suppose i was hoping that race would matter less when the POTUS is black. and obama's nominee could've been a white male and he still would've received a verbal beating from the GOP. however, it would've been nothing like what sotomayor is experiencing.

gen next: ummm...it took me several days to write this post because i was so angry, so i understand how you feel.

i'll have to look up your post on white male privilege. i can get that it may be a difficult thing to realize. but come on. calling an out-of-context statement racism because how dare someone who is not a white male suggest she is better than a white male leads me to believe that they don't know what racism is at all.

juliet: the incubator thing has a long history which i should probably blog about, but i'll leave that for another time. if kennedy did value women only for their ability to procreate that really wouldn't surprise me.

instatick: I just wish there was someway to show people, people who think playing fields are level and that racism, sexism and bigotry are nonexistent or merely hallucinations of "femi-nazis" what it's like to live on the other side of that white pickett fence.

THIS. if only...

juliet: i'm swamped at work and probably shouldn't be responding to comments, but i'll get back to you on this hopefully tomorrow. i'd be happy to select some passages for you but that's going to take time and research.

mr. hutchinson: first off, thank you for your input and the link you provided. also, did scalia really say that? bc omg wow. i'm so offended that i don't know what to say. that statement is beyond absurd.

juliet: i wouldn't take offense. mr. hutchinson is a professor of law at american u. and i think he was just sharing his opinions on kennedy in regards to the carhart case, something he's probably reviewed many times.

also, it's quite possible that this is mr. hutchinson's first visit to this blog and is not familiar with our debate style.

so no worries. we're all just having a civil debate here.

Juliet said...

"juliet: i wouldn't take offense. mr. hutchinson is a professor of law at american u. and i think he was just sharing his opinions on kennedy in regards to the carhart case, something he's probably reviewed many times."

Okay, cool. I just wasn't sure what it was I wrote that made him address his comments to me in particular.

Alex said...

We are not "nation that still says things like this," Generation Next. We are a nation that has some people in it that say things like that.

If you think those people -- the same people that lost the last election by a rather wide margin despite a huge amount of fearmongering -- represent our country more than Barack Obama's victory do -- then I feel sorry for you for having such a negative worldview.

Brad K. said...

Since Sonia Sotomayor is not nominated by a Latina leader for a Latina position, her background must be examined to show whether or not she harbors biases that would hinder her from performing her duties as they are defined.

The purpose of the Supreme Court is to act as a check and balance. To assure that Congress and the President abide by the Constitution. Thus the primary qualifications, the reason to examine Ms. Sotomayor's background, is to assure ourselves that her rulings and actions do adhere to the contents of the Constitution.

And there are problems in her background. There have been rulings where she felt one minority issue or economic interest or another were more important than the law.

Ms. Sotomayor will not be limited to hearing Latino-related issues. Thus assurance that she will act, to the best of her ability, as if we indeed lived in a post-race era, is essential.

And again there are problems in Ms. Sotomayor's statements and in her rulings.

It seems clear that President Barack Hussein Obama deliberately picked someone he could count on to further the President's political agenda, actively while on the bench, and not just passively as a symbol of accord between. Which is a violation of the purpose and intent of the Constitution.

Thus, to preserve the Constitution of the United States, which all Senators and Members of the House of Representatives, the President, and Justices of the Supreme Court swear to do, a close examination of Sonia Sotomayor's credentials, biases, and personal ethics is very much in order, as it is with any nominee.

As for the Cartoon, I think the "clubs" held by the Republicans are the defects in Sotomayor's background, clouding her credentials for the nomination. I think representing her as a pinata is unfortunate, but again, she is the one that President Barack Hussein Obama set up for the confirmation process. The absence of Democratic Senators waiting to pick on Ms. Sotomayor might be seen as a slam at Democrats refusing to meet their Constitutional duties.

I think the point of the cartoon is Obama playing "pretend Latino" and serving up the very capable Judge Sotomayor for his own political game. And, frankly, I see this cartoon as being sympathetic to race issues while it is pointedly deriding the sham in the White hose.

anOCgirl said...

brad--i shouldn't dignify your comment with a response, but here it goes. to blame obama for choosing an activist judge is disingenuous. i'm assuming you felt the same way when bush selected alito. as far as experience goes, i'm sure you were pissed with bush selected roberts. as far as your explanation of the cartoon, it's so far-fetched that no one in the MSM have thought of it. seriously, you're stretching there. and i love how you blame obama for the pinata imagery. after all, it's his fault he chose a latina. your comment is beyond offensive.

juliet: Nobody disputes that whether or not women decide to go through with an abortion, they face a heart-wrenching choice. But for Kennedy only those women who regret the decision to abort illuminate some deeper truth. And Kennedy's solution for these flip-flopping women is to protect them from the truth. "Any number of patients facing imminent surgical procedures would prefer not to hear all details. It is, however, precisely this lack of information concerning the way the fetus will be killed that is of legitimate concern to the state." In Kennedy's view, if pregnant women only knew how abhorrent the procedure was, they'd always opt to avoid it. But Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg points out in the dissent, Kennedy doesn't propose giving women more information about partial-birth abortion procedures. He says it's up to the Congress and the courts to substitute their judgment and ban the procedures altogether.

other passages:
"respect for human life finds an ultimate expression in the bond of love the mother has for her child" again, painting all women with the same brush.

"It seems unexceptionable to conclude some women come to regret their choice to abort the infant life they once created and sustained." (infant =/= fetus and we're talking about fetuses here)

"It is self-evident that a mother who comes to regret her choice to abort must struggle with grief more anguished and sorrow more profound, when she learns, only after the event, what she once did not know: that she allowed a doctor to pierce the skull and vacuum the fast developing brain of her unborn child, a child assuming the human form."

guess what. not every woman regrets her abortion.

"medical uncertainty does not foreclose the exercise of legislative power."

oh, since kennedy doesn't know the health consequences of banning intact D&E, let's just ban it, ok?

also, the several-pages-long description of the procedures, from two different points of view, is unnecessary and an obvious attempt to gross people out on a medical procedure used in less than 1% of abortions.

guess what. heart surgery is gross too.

i don't mean to be snippy. the previous comment left me in a foul mood.