Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The sins of Sotomayor

If you take Sonia Sotomayor's nomination to the Supreme Court and contrast it with Barack Obama's ascension to the White House, what you see is an openness to people of color insofar as they play "post-racial" -- which means they attach only as much significance to race as white preference will bear, thus ensuring "consensus."

Barack Obama did this in spades, which is one reason why he is so widely admired, ushering in the "post-racial era," and so on. Finally: a capable black leader who lets white people set the pace on race, rather than pushing them to catch up with reality; may he set the precedent for all who follow!

To the extent that Sotomayor departs from this standard (not only does she confess to being influenced, even graced, by her non-white background; she's being appointed for life!) she is called a "reverse racist" or a "racialist": in short, she acknowledges the significance of race (and gender) in a way that certain, self-appointed white gatekeepers do not. In some corners of the political class, this has made her a very controversial figure.

Fortunately for the country, these corners are diminishing rapidly, with most of the population solidly behind Obama's pick. Still, the old guard dies hard; they propagate their arguments through ownership structures (radio, TV, and the internet) that can make the "debate" seem much more national than it really is.

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