Wednesday, July 15, 2009

RACE CONTINUES TO DEFINE OUR POLITICAL LIVES AND THIS IS SAD

On one note it is fair to say that had there not been 9 white men on the Supreme Court in 1896, when they found separate but equal is constitutional in the Plessy v. Ferguson case, the result may have been different. At the time there where plenty of minority lawyers practicing law who could have been brought up through the ranks to eventually make it to the Supreme Court. So it is true, for there to be justice it is better to have a diverse Supreme Court. By diverse I do not mean that all blacks for example should be the same.

While I personally find Associate Justice Thomas’ understanding of the law questionable, I find his life story to be very compelling and something every young black male should study for inspiration. I also find his independence from the mainstream self anointed black leadership to be very refreshing. I have always distanced myself from the self anointed gay leadership and Latino leadership. I find all of these groups to be oppressive and incredibly intolerant of a diversity of ideas.

In my mind this country would be up in arms if Sonia Sotomayor were a white male. The fact we are setting a different standard for her because she is a Latina makes everyone participating in this con job racists. Question how can a white male be a racist by supporting a racist Latina? Answer - we must look at the term more broadly to include people who turn a blind eye to racist statements because they seek to accomplish another agenda.

We all know what this means: "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."

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/15/us/15judge.html

This is no different than when Colin Powell as the Chief of Staff under Bush I told CNN that our primary intelligence coming out of Bagdad, during Gulf War I, was CNN’s live coverage. Saddam immediately ordered the live coverage cut and we lost our intelligence gathering on the effectiveness of the bombing. Had Colin Powell been a white male he would have been immediately fired and possibly court marshalled.

I have spent my entire life asking people to judge me by no other standard than the content of my character. You may not like my politics, which is fair game, but I still demand people look to my actions and my character before they judge me. I have never taken the position that I cannot succeed because my teachers saw me as a Latino. (In highschool at graduation there was no mention I had a full tuition scholarship to UTEP, or that I was even going to UTEP. Everyone else going to a university had it mentioned when they crossed the stage. I was told over and over again that Latino’s went for technical training to learn how to use their hands. My guidance counselor was an ignorant racist moron.)

I did not claim victim hood when I came to accept I am gay. I stepped up to the plate and demanded respect. I fought for equality in the courts even though I knew ignorant judges, many of whom were closeted gays, would judge me as a trouble maker. After being spat on in the lawyers’ lounge in the Tarrant County Court house by a fellow lawyer, I walked into the courtroom and made my case without feeling a need to cry victim.

I knew when I joined the military that if they discovered I was gay I would be thrown out. It did not matter. I was raised with an understanding we have a duty to serve if we expect to have our liberties preserved. So what if I am tainted with a badge of infamy label? I served with honor and dignity. And unlike so many others I got out alive. A badge of infamy is nothing to live with compared to those who died in service to this country or were wounded in combat.

On the gay issue I do speak out against gay bashing. But I do it because I know the impact it has on young adults. I am very well read on the issue of gay youth suicide. It is not about gay rights - it is about not making young adults feel like they are trash. And for the record, when Senator Lucio became the final vote to put the anti-gay marriage issue on the ballot, I did not make a big issue of it because in exchange for his vote he got the needed votes to provided Texas juries with the option of life without the possibility of parole instead of death. This was a fair exchange. I will eventually get full equality in Texas. Every person who has been given life without the possibility of parole, would not have eventually been given their life had then been put to death.

Back to Sonia Sotomayor - As a Latino, I find her an embarrassment. Her testimony before the US Senate Judiciary Committee is shameful. We all know what the word "BETTER " means. The fact she refuses to own up to its meaning and that she made the speech 6 times (I use 6 because that is the number she uses - others say it has been 7 times) speaks volumes about who she is. If she can look the Senators in the face and say Better does not mean Better then nothing she says can be trustworthy.

This woman is a con job. The Senators have brought out an issue which is important to understanding the legal process. In the firefighters case, had the Chief Justice of the Second Circuit not read a comment in the paper about her panel’s ruling, no one would have ever heard about the case. He forced the rehearing and it was her vote which stopped the rehearing. But this little battle was enough to bring it to the attention of the Supreme Court.

When you file an appeal to the United States Supreme Court, it is almost impossible to get past the briefing clerks if you are appealing a per curium opinion which effectively only affirms the lower court. This is why corrupt judges like Sonia Sotomayor uses them. They are used to provide cover for judicial activism. Or to hide decisions which they know will be controversial. This conduct would never be tolerated by a white male. The fact we are tolerating it from a Latina makes us racists or maybe even worse - proponents of affirmative action. Affirmative action had its place in our history, but in terms of appointments to the Supreme Court it has no place in American politics.

Based on the content of her character Sonia Sotomayor is not fit to be a judge. This does not take away from her great success story which is as much a product of her own hard work as it is of our system of equality, with all of its flaws. Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas are proof that if you forge forward by ignoring the bigots and naysayers you can succeed even in a race driven society. This is good. But in both cases something went wrong. I am concerned both are driven by their anger and this is wrong.

I was and continue to be greatly influenced by my UTEP mentor. His mother died in the German concentration camps. Years later his family was honored in Israel for hiding Jews in their home. He fought as a Polish partisan, before fighting with the British military. He survived a German prison of war camp because a German soldier helped him escape while he and other Polish partisans were being marched to a firing squad. Immediately after the Germans marched into Warsaw he saw Germans stop trolley cars and pull his fellow citizens from the trolley car and shoot them dead because some German soldiers was shot dead just minutes before. He saw German officers take children by the legs and smash their skulls on the curb when they would get caught sneaking out of the Warsaw ghetto in search of food.

With all of this and the eventual Soviet occupation of Poland he held no bias towards the Germans or Soviets. He understood you must judge people as individuals and not based on their ethnicity etc. So long as we continue with this policy of turning a blind eye towards racism, regardless of the face of the racism, minorities will continue to be viewed as needing a head start - special assistance to succeed. We do not. All minorities in this country are accomplished people who have contributed to the greatness of this country. It is time we accept this as a truism and get beyond race.

The success stories of Sonia Sotomayor and Clarence Thomas are something this country should be proud of - they both proved that in a racist society you can succeed if you do not live the life of victims - but maybe they did not succeed, because both seem to be driven by how they were treated as minorities - this is sad.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Look, she has been a very successful Latina and was often asked to address primarily hispanic audiences. She was making that statement as an attempt at humor, but also to note that she never felt inferior because of race.

I personally don't care either way. But that is not the point of the post.

The court, from its' inception, has been filled with a diverse ideology. Thomas is a committed formalist who adhere's to strict textual analysis, much as Scalia is. the liberal instrumentalists such as Ginsberg and soon to be Sotomayor look at context and modern application.

Both groups are right and wrong at the same time. We need both.