Tuesday, President Barack Obama made history – once again – when he nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court to replace retiring Justice David Souter. Almost immediately, numerous right-wing radio talk hosts began smearing Judge Sotomayor as a racist and a bigot.
These hosts have been citing remarks Judge Sotomayor made during a speech at the University of California-Berkeley School of Law in 2002, when she said, “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.”
Titular head of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh claimed Sotomayor is a “reverse racist”; radio host Mark Levin called her a “bigot”; and Glenn Beck claimed Sotomayor made “one of the most outrageous racist remarks I’ve heard. … She sure sounds like a racist.”
Well, if Rush Limbaugh, Mark Levine and Glenn Beck said it then it must be true.
Of course what the right-wing doesn’t do is say under what circumstances Judge Sotomayor made her allegedly racists statement.
Judge Sotomayor was specifically referring to the importance of diversity in adjudicating race and sex discrimination cases. Something a woman, and especially a woman of color, might have just a little more practical knowledge about than a white male.
So, if Judge Sotomayor is a racists for daring to suggest that a Latina might be better qualified than a white male regarding race and sex discrimination cases, then what about Justice Clarence Thomas’ comments made during his Senate confirmation hearings responding to the question of why he “want[ed] this job,” Thomas responded, “I believe … that I can make a contribution, that I can bring something different to the Court, that I can walk in the shoes of the people who are affected by what the Court does.”
How can Justice Thomas “bring something different to the Court”? Is his educational background significantly different than the other Justices? No. What about his legal or judicial background, is it significantly different from the other Justices? No. So the difference must be, maybe, his race?
In making such a statement, according to the standards put in place by Rush, Levine and Beck, Justice Clarence Thomas must be a racist and a bigot.
During Tuesday’s broadcast of his show, Limbaugh said of Sotomayor: “So here you have a racist. You might — you might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse racist. And 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 to implement their power. Obama is the greatest living example of a reverse racist, and now he’s appointed one.”
So, according to Rush, not only is Judge Sotomayor a racist, but President Obama is a racist as well?
Rush continued his theorizing, “In another example of her radical judicial philosophy, Sonia Sotomayor stated in a 2002 speech at Berkeley that she believes it’s appropriate for a judge to consider, quote, ‘their experiences as women and people of color’ — reverse racism. She’s a minority. Only she can understand the horrible trials and tribulations minorities have gone through, and the courts are the places where their grievances are redressed — and they’re not. The court is where the law is dealt with.
“In the same speech, Sonia Sotomayor went on to say, quote, ‘I would hope that a wise Latina woman, with the richness of her experience, would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.’ If that’s not a racist statement, I don’t know what is — reverse racist or whatever.
During his Tuesday radio show broadcast, Levin claimed of “so-called moderate” Democratic senators voting on Sotomayor: “These people need to understand that if they vote to confirm a radical leftist — and I will now say what I actually believe — who is a bigot — that’s right, I said it — then they need to pay a political price for this.”
Levin later said, “Let me defend my position that I believe this nominee is bigoted.” He continued, “Sonia Sotomayor gave a speech declaring that the ethnicity and sex of a judge, quote, ‘may and will make a difference in our judging.’ She said, quote, ‘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 sure they’ll spin it. I’m sure they’ll attack those of us who see something like this as a red flag, but there is no way — there is no way you can justify a statement like that other than a bigoted statement. That’s not based on somebody’s content or character, as Martin Luther King would say. That’s based on a generalized statement about race and ethnicity. That statement alone — that statement alone should disqualify her. Period.”
So, would Mr. Levine also say that based on his “generalized statement about race and ethnicity” that Justice Clarence Thomas, based upon “that statement alone – that statement alone should disqualify him. Period?”
On Tuesday’s edition of his Fox “News” program, Glenn Beck said Sotomayor’s “wise Latina” comments “smacks of racism” and is “one of the most outrageous racist remarks I’ve heard.” Beck later claimed, “I don’t like the charges of, ‘Oh, you’re a racist. They’re a racist.’ Very few people are racist.
“There are racists and they’re bad people. And — but it’s — most Americans are good, just decent people, and I hate the charges and cries of racism. But when I hear this — I mean, gee. She sure sounds like a racist here.”
Would Beck ascribe the same standard to Clarence Thomas? If he were to listen to Justice Thomas’ statement would he say, “But when I hear this — I mean, gee. He sure sounds like a racist here?”
So, is Judge Sotomayor a racist as Limbaugh, Levine and Beck claim she is?
Well, first, considering the source; and second, looking at what was said in context, and from the position of thinking adult; The only possible answer is no she is not a racist, anymore than Justice Clarence Thomas is a racist, and the conservatives are extremely hard pressed to oppose her if this is their best shot.