By Mr. Quarter
Racist. A label that seems to be tossed about almost casually these days. The nomination of Judge Sotomayor has brought this label out once again. It seems that in remarks to the law school at UC Berkley, Judge Sotomayor is quoted as saying "“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.” Now, I'm no expert in such things, but that certainly sounds like she thinks that Latino women (by the way, isn't "Latina woman" sort of redundant?) are superior to white males by virtue of their race - at least in terms of their judgement and ability to reason (does that mean intellectually superior?). What I mean by "by virtue of their race" is that she seems to think that a white male with the same experiences or hardships in life could not reach correct conclusions, although a Latina woman could. If the phrases "Latina woman" and "white males" in that quote are inverted, and the entire quote spoken by - say Senator Trent Lott, don't you think that the media outrage would be unending? Don't you think that Trent Lott would be run out of town on a rail, demoted from - well everything? Just like when he said that it was a shame that Jesse Helms never got elected president?
I was absolutely enraged after reading this article on the subject in Vanity Fair that asserted Republicans in general are racists for expressing exactly this same analysis presented above. In that commentary by Michael Hogan (who is a senior editor of the magazine), he asserts that conservatives are racists because they make the simple argument, as he puts it, " if we’re not allowed to discriminate against you for being brown, then you can’t discriminate against us for being white." He goes on to justify this position by an arithmetic argument - slavery existed in the US for 9.8 generations but has been abolished for only 5.7 generations. He further suggests that the almost 50 years since the civil rights movement really haven't rectified the issues of slavery. So, if I'm doing the arithmetic correctly, by Mr. Hogans reckoning, we still owe 4.1 generations worth of guilt!
Mr. Hogan sums up his comments by saying, "...... we don’t live in a perfect meritocracy. Legacy matters, family matters, connections matter, and inevitably, unless the law insists otherwise, skin color matters. Maybe not to you, but to plenty of people." Well, isn't that the crux of the issue? Of course, Mr. Hogan is trying to make the point that merit is not a sufficient yardstick, that all of the other issues are the things that should be considered in the award of position and advantage in life's competition. But, isn't that exactly what equal opportunity, affirmative action, school busing, and a hundred other adjustments to law and the way that society works are meant to correct? Isn't meritocracy exactly what we wish to achieve and the intent of the Constitution and Bill of Rights; no matter your skin color, family, connections, or legacy, you earn your position in the competition in life is according to your merit and achievement?
I am sure that some racism still exists in this country, and I believe that it is not prevalent or commonly condoned. I am equally certain that it is practiced by persons of all colors for all kinds of reasons. I am also certain that mere affiliation with a political party does not make one a racist, nor is racism the position or philosophy of the Republican Party. I am conservative in my politics, belong to the Republican party (although I actually voted for Carter and, once, for Clinton), I am certain that I never owned a slave, and so far as I am aware I have never caused harm to anyone because of their skin color. I feel no racial guilt merely because of my own skin color or my ethnicity. So Mr. Hogan, take your opinion and commentary, fold it 'til its all corners and stick it where the Sun don't shine!