All political thinking for years past has been vitiated in the same way. People can foresee the future only when it coincides with their own wishes, and the most grossly obvious facts can be ignored when they are unwelcome.
The spectacle that is the confirmation hearing of Sonia Sotomayor epitomizes the foolishness that is currently so fashionable in this country regarding race. A statement by her that used the phrase "wise latina" has sparked a firestorm amongst the most beleaguered and discriminated against group in America, the white American male.
Now in order to feel the pain of this most oppressed class, a few things one should note: There is one black senator in America at present, Roland Burris, and he has chosen not to run again when his term is up. There are two asians and three hispanics in the Senate. My quick count shows seventeen women senators and approximately seventy three distaff house members. Sotomayor would be only the third woman ever to sit on the high court. My point is that the poor white man sure seems to have an inordinate number of seats at the table of power.
Of course, in the new colorblind Republican Party, race and gender are meaningless. Racism is an artifact of the past and we have moved past that civil rights business. The most qualified person will get the job, regardless of phenotype or gender.
Forgive me for thinking that this is an overly optimistic viewpoint. It holds court in a myopic fantasyland. It refuses to acknowledge that it was not so very long ago, that we lived in a world of club and deed restrictions, of police and fire departments that would never hire a person of color or a woman. That separate is largely unequal. That there was a reason that minorities didn't get positions of power, jobs or drink out of the same drinking fountains as the ruling class. Discrimination wasn't simply an accident.
The deck has been stacked for a long time. So don't worry, you white males, your place is secure. One person who recognizes the need for "empathy" will not be enough to topple the invective of a Supreme Court where 7 of 9 justices have been appointed by Republicans and who have become the most radical, regressive and truly activist court the country has ever witnessed. But this is the Orwellian land of doublespeak, where the only african american on the court, a man who benefitted from affirmative action, now seeks to dismember it. Where the lead fireman in the Ricci case actually got into the department by claiming discrimination for his dyslexia. Alice in Wonderland indeed.
No rational person would advocate practicing discrimination as a cure for discrimination. The notion of quotas makes me queasy. But it is ridiculous to pretend that this country has no history of overt racism, sexism and exploitation. And if you are not the lead dog, the scenery never changes much.
I think that a person who grew up in the projects, in an alternate shade, might bring an important perspective to a court which is chaired by the son of a corporate lawyer who lived in the tony suburbs. Wise latina doesn't sound too much different than smart jew or country club wasp or any number of other colloquialisms that find their way into the daily speech. Why does it strike such terror?