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Senator Patrick Leahy has strongly implied that criticism of Supreme Court nominee Sotomayor is racist. And what were those “racist” remarks? The culprits quoted Sotomayor verbatim. There is no doubt that Sotomayor made a racist statement. There is no doubt that she said it multiple times. Yet Leahy has the nerve to accuse people of racism when they simply point out what she said. Worse, he misquoted her, apparently deliberately.
Leahy claimed, “[Sotomayor] said that, quote, you 'would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would reach wise decisions.'" Notice that he claims to be quoting her verbatim. That was a lie; he was creatively editing her words to make her statement sound neutral when in fact it was racist.
What Sotomayor in fact said was, “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." The claim that her race and sex would reach better decisions is clearly racist, as I’ve discussed in my blog on the Gander Test. Removing the racist part of the quote is dishonest. Leahy is a liar when he says that he is quoting her statement.
However we should not be surprised that someone like Leahy, well on the left of the political spectrum, would do such a thing. Many of those people are incapable of recognizing racism in anybody but a white person. Leahy probably thinks that telling his lie is actually serving a good cause. Many of those people actually believe that it is not possible for a Black or Hispanic to be a bigot. That is a part of identity politics, they judge people by the color of their skin or their sex, not by what they actually say or do. However racist is as racist does, contrary to what the leftists claim.
This is the other side of identity politics, excusing all manner of sin on the basis that the culprit is a minority. Worse, anyone who criticizes a minority, even for valid reasons, is labeled a bigot for having the temerity to speak the truth or a non-politically-correct opinion. This is widespread in our country today. For example, anyone who opposes homosexual marriage will be called homophobic and anyone who opposes affirmative action will be called racist. That is just the way identity politics works.
Another aspect of this is the article of faith on the left that any minority must be leftist. Many go so far as to call a black person who does not toe the leftist line “not an authentic Black.” In fact recently Senator Barbara Boxer used testimony by Harry Alford, chair of the National Black Chamber of Commerce, to imply that the other groups represent black people but that Alford’s organization does not because it does not go along with the leftist agenda.
Many of Boxer’s ilk think that minorities should remain in lockstep and not be allowed to stray from the leftist reservation. They think that minorities off that reservation lose their identity.
Can we change the adherents of identity politics? I doubt it, at least not most of them. They tend to have closed minds on the subject and will reject facts or sound reasoning. In fact they will call such facts and reasoning bias, but of course cannot tell us how they are biased. Oh there may be a few who listen to reason but most won’t. Most regard the accusation as proof, no more discussion needed.
What we can do is refuse to give in to the twisted accusations of identity politics. Of course first we must examine ourselves to be certain the charges are untrue. If they are all we need do is make a simple statement of that fact.
A leftist might say, “You’re a bigot, you called Sotomayor racist.”
A good response might be, “I am not a racist, in fact I have many Black and Hispanic friends. I simply quoted her own words, words she has spoken multiple times. Then I pointed out that if someone made a similar statement, claiming that a white man could make better decisions than a Latina woman, it would be recognized for the racism it is. Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander and Sotomayor’s statements are racist.”
Such a response probably won’t change the mind of the accuser; he is likely too closed-minded to understand it. However it will have an effect on neutral observers. Furthermore it will help us avoid the temptation to become as biased as the accuser in an attempt to avoid the accusation.
Leahy and his ilk will undoubtedly continue to make false accusations of bigotry. However I do not believe they are the majority in this country. I believe most people are smart enough to see how ridiculous those accusations are.