Monday, June 8, 2009

Neither wise nor convincing

I generally like Victor Davis Hanson’s writing but I have to take exception to his recent post at The Corner called “Something Is Not Quite Right Here.” In it, Hanson says:

A disinterested observer would conclude that Justice Sotomayor is race-obsessed. In her now much quoted 2001 UC Berkeley speech she invoked “Latina/Latino” no less than 38 times, in addition to a variety of other racial-identifying synonyms. When one reads the speech over, the obsession with race become almost overwhelming, and I think the public has legitimate worries (more than the Obama threshold of 5% of cases) over whether a judge so cognizant of race could be race-blind in her decision making.

Well, yes, but there’s one problem. Sotomayor’s speech was entitled “A Latina Judge’s Voice” and was the Honorable Mario G. Olmos Law & Cultural Diversity Memorial Lecture. It was presented at a University of California at Berkley School of Law symposium co-hosted by the La Raza Law Journal, the Berkeley La Raza Law Students Association, the Boalt Hall Center for Social Justice, and the Center for Latino Policy Research. The symposium was entitled "Raising the Bar: Latino and Latina Presence in the Judiciary and the Struggle for Representation."

Under these circumstances it would have been remarkable if Judge Sotomayor had not spoken extensively of her experiences as a Latina and of the role of Latinos and Latinas in the judiciary.

This is not to say that Judge Sotomayor’s remarks about the superior wisdom of women or of Latino/as are not a cause for concern. As Hanson correctly points out, she has repeated variations on that theme many times over the years and I think it is an avenue which should be explored in her confirmation hearings. But claiming that her use of “racial epithets” in a speech which is supposed to be about ethnicity is somehow suspicious is neither wise nor convincing.


Octogalore said...

Elise -- I read your "from there to here" post and was amazed at how similar your story is to mine!

Elise said...

And I was amazed to read neoneocon's "change story" and realize how similar my journey was to hers - although she's far more articulate and analytical about it than I am.

Thanks for taking the time to comment - you've inspired me to go back and do the third post in the installment!