Jewish World Review June 2, 2009 / 10 Sivan 5769
Judge Sotomayor would think me most unwise
By John Kass
http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | What would happen if I began a column about the corrosive effects of government-sanctioned racism with the following idiotic idea?
"I would hope that a wise white man with the richness of his experience would more often than not reach a better conclusion than an African-American or Latino who hasn't lived that life."
If I wrote such nonsense, I'd be denounced as a racist. And President
But Obama did nominate Sonia Sotomayor to the court. In 2001, while giving a lecture on the law and cultural diversity at the
She aimed at a belief expressed by
"I would hope that a wise
Though I am deathly afraid of rats, I'd try to tell the sensitivity committee what most Americans believe: That the Constitution is colorblind, and skin pigment has nothing to do with wisdom.
And that a government that uses race to pick winners and losers — while enforcing such policy through the courts and calling it fair — is a government that infects its people with a corrosive and debilitating cynicism.
That's probably the time when the rat would be released. But after the training session, they'd take the cage from my head. Then they'd fire me.
That's not the worst of it. The worst is that Obama would never get to tell my compelling narrative: how my father plowed the fields outside his village in
And that later, as immigrants on a waiter's salary, my parents purchased for their children a subscription to the
The Sonia Sotomayor debate is now open, offered up by the first black president, whose campaign promised to lead us into the undiscovered precincts of a post-racial America.
Sotomayor's qualifications as a first-rate intellect are not in question. But there are at least two sides here worth exploring.
First, there is the Inspiring Icon of the
She's rightfully a beacon of hope to every
But the other side of the story also speaks to racism. Not the knuckle-dragging kind shrieked by ignorant barbarians. That's easy to condemn, whether the knuckles are white, black or brown.
Yet there is another kind. The media don't recognize it as racism and instead lard it with virtue, calling it by its Orwellian name: affirmative action. Yet many know it by what it is: government-backed racial preference.
Sotomayor was part of a three-member federal panel that reviewed the reverse-discrimination case of 17 white firefighters and one Latino firefighter from
"We are not unsympathetic to the plaintiffs' expression of frustration," the judges said in dismissing the case in a one-paragraph ruling, adding that the firefighters didn't have a "viable" claim under the law.
And so Sotomayor reaffirms racial preference. But imagine you're a judge in a burning building. At the moment of fire and flesh, would you care about the color of the hands that save you?
The other day, I wrote about a
But I foolishly never thought to ask about their race, only their competence. How stupid of me. Judge Sotomayor would think me most unwise.
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John Kass is a columnist for the Chicago Tribune. Comments by clicking here.
© 2008, Chicago Tribune. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.