Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Identity Politics - A Convenient Category

Leonard Pitts, of the Miami Herald is one of my favorite columnist. His take on the Sotomayor Supreme Court nomination and charges of racism and 'identity politics', is not only interesting, but I think on the mark.

None of those concerned with Judge Sotomayor's fairness, impartiality and judicial temperament, or race tolerance had any such concern, either at the time or in reflection, on the capacity of white male nominees to render decisions based upon the law. Certainly not enough to call them 'racist', before the Senate hearings began.
Here's an excerpt...

"I intend no endorsement of Sotomayor. Let's wait and see how she does before the Senate Judiciary Committee. I'm particularly interested in hearing how she explains her quoted remark that ''a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experience'' will usually have better judgment than ''a white man who hasn't lived that life.'' Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich have thundered with simulated indignation that the comment makes her a racist. It sounds more like attempted irreverence fallen flat, but she needs to address it."

"Assuming she ascends to the court, Sotomayor will be the 113th person to do so. Of her 112 predecessors, 108 have been white men. Folks who profess concern about identity politics would do well to keep those numbers in mind, illustrating as they do that race and gender have never previously been absent from decisions about who sits on the court."

"That a point so blazingly obvious even needs making speaks to the myopia afflicting many white people when the subject is race (and men when the subject is gender). It is a stark illustration of white and male privilege: in this case, the privilege of questioning the role someone's identity plays in their promotion only when that identity diverges from the perceived norm, i.e., yours.

Contrary to what some would argue, it is a net good when the panel whose decisions shape the nation looks something like the nation."

Read the full column here...

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