There was much to dislike about the Sonia Sotomayor hearings in the Senate.
Here was a woman who turned on herself, who renounced her own views, not once but over and over again. When asked by Republicans what she meant by this controversial statement or that, we got fog. What about that “wise Latina” comment? Sorry, if you misunderstood what I meant, Senator. Once she claimed she had used the wrong words to say what she had intended. Thanks. But what we saw for the most part was a woman prepared to abandon her most fundamental beliefs – only until the final vote on her confirmation is in, it’s safe to assume — to insure what was a sure thing in any case: that she would become the next Justice of the United States Supreme Court.
If you know the outcome in advance, if you know you’re going to get the job, why not have the guts to stick by your own words, your own beliefs? What harm could it do?
But this is how the game is played and only a political naïf would be surprised by the show Judge Sotomayor and her Democratic friends in the Senate put on last week. Some said the hearings were dull. I found them depressing.
Sonia Sotomayor was part of a three-judge panel that dismissed, virtually without comment, the case of the New Haven firefighters who claimed they were victims of racial discrimination. New Haven officials refused to give them the promotions they had earned, the firefighters said, simply because they were white (one was Hispanic). The city had another story; it said it feared lawsuits since no blacks did well enough to get promotions. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled the firefighters indeed were victims of discrimination, based on the color of their skin — but only by the narrowest possible margin. The vote was 5 to 4.
The closeness of the vote is depressing enough. Four liberal justices were willing to tolerate racial discrimination because of some imagined fear that the city would have to fight costly lawsuits. Would liberals see it the same way if the victims of discrimination had been black firefighters?
Then we got the Senate hearings and had to endure more of the same shameless acceptance of racial discrimination. Every liberal senator on the Judiciary Committee was more than willing to accept Judge Sotomayor’s decision against the firefighters. Tolerance of such obvious racial discrimination was a small price, they figured, to make sure a liberal judge like Sonia Sotomayor was confirmed (even though the nomination was never in doubt).
But the price for putting up with discrimination is never a small one. Sometimes it can cost you your soul. Remember, liberals were the courageous ones who back in the day led the fight against racial discrimination. Now, liberals are the ones who are not only willing to tolerate discrimination, but actually support it, to champion it, so long as it is done in the name of diversity and so long as the victims are white males, even blue-collar white males like the New Haven firefighters.
This is why so many of us who started out as liberals have moved on. We have evolved. Liberals, on the other hand, have forgotten how to be liberal. They talk about empathy but have none for those firefighters, simply because of the color of their skin.
Who could have imagined back in the 60s when the fight for civil rights was in full bloom that someday it would come to this: liberals defending discrimination based on race?
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