Friday, May 29, 2009

Calling All Conservative White Men (and Others)

I am finding the discussion by primarily white male conservatives about the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor very interesting. I've been watching Pat Buchanan lead the charge for the oppressed white male on MSNBC (here is his latest column). I just read a blurb from John Derbyshire on "The Corner" on National Review Online. And I think I agree with Rachel Weiner's "Huffington Post" post that Sotomayor's nomination is beginning to show fissures within the conservative movement along racial lines.

This is something that only the white guys can tell me. Do white men really feel oppressed by the effort to diversify colleges/universities and workplaces (this includes white women in that diversity mix)? And, how do we practice equality under the law, when there are, I believe, many white men who perhaps share the disdain that Buchanan and Derbyshire seem to have toward racial minorities and women? How do we ensure that the likes of white men like that really would practice equality (that does not mean that all white men, and only all white men, seem to be created equal)?

And I just heard on MSNBC that Rush Limbaugh equated Sonia Sotomayor with David Duke. David Duke? Well the National Council of La Raza was compared to the Klan.


Merrick said...

White men has run this country in the ground for years, especially Bush and his crew. I feel that they are really threatened by Obama and any other person that is willing to give someone other than white men an opportunity. Just my two cents, but watch how the disdain will grow.

Scott said...

White male here and dammit, I sure do miss the good ol' days when we ruled the freakin WORLD!!
Sigh. Times change huh. Ok...seriously...

On the Sotomayor issue, can anybody look at her academic and career resume and--agree with her or not--make the case that there is ANYBODY...male, female, black, white or Klingon...who could be MORE qualified?

But beyond that, the issue gets tougher. Affirmative action. I donno. How do we correct injustice without creating more injustice? If I was one of the white firefighters in Connecticut who just lost a promotion because of my skin color...I could see myself turning into the stereotypical "angry white man." On the other hand, if I was black or Hispanic and scored well on the SATs but was turned down by Yale or the Naval Academy in favor of a lower-scoring "legacy" white boy with a name like "Bush" or "McCain"...yeah, I'd be angry at that too.

I know he's got a lot on his plate at the moment, but I do hope President Obama will wade in a bit more on this discussion. In his "teachable moment" speech on race during the campaign, he seemed to have a bit of empathy (omg!) for both sides in the debate. He seemed to be saying that his hope was that if we as a people are going to offer a leg-up to anyone, maybe that ought to be based more on economic disadvantage than on minority status. "Why should my daughters be given an advantage over the daughter of a coal miner in Appalachia?"

The more I try get into the empathy thing, the more I try to look at the issue standing in someone else's shoes, the more uncertain and confused I get.

Anonymous said...

Sotomayor: Rebut, Then Confirm
By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, May 29, 2009

Sonia Sotomayor has a classic American story. So does Frank Ricci.

Ricci is a New Haven firefighter stationed seven blocks from where Sotomayor went to law school (Yale). Raised in blue-collar Wallingford, Conn., Ricci struggled as a C and D student in public schools ill-prepared to address his serious learning disabilities. Nonetheless he persevered, becoming a junior firefighter and Connecticut's youngest certified EMT.

After studying fire science at a community college, he became a New Haven "truckie," the guy who puts up ladders and breaks holes in burning buildings. When his department announced exams for promotions, he spent $1,000 on books, quit his second job so he could study eight to 13 hours a day and, because of his dyslexia, hired someone to read him the material.

He placed sixth on the lieutenant's exam, which qualified him for promotion. Except that the exams were thrown out by the city, and all promotions denied, because no blacks had scored high enough to be promoted.

Ricci (with 19 others) sued.

That's where these two American stories intersect. Sotomayor was a member of the three-member circuit court panel that upheld the dismissal of his case, thus denying Ricci his promotion.

This summary ruling deeply disturbed fellow members of Sotomayor's court, including Judge José Cabranes (a fellow Clinton appointee), who, writing for five others, criticized the unusual, initially unpublished, single-paragraph dismissal for ignoring the serious constitutional issues at stake.

Two things are sure to happen this summer: The Supreme Court will overturn Sotomayor's panel's ruling. And, barring some huge hidden scandal, Sotomayor will be elevated to that same Supreme Court.

What should a principled conservative do? Use the upcoming hearings not to deny her the seat, but to illuminate her views. No magazine gossip from anonymous court clerks. No "temperament" insinuations. Nothing ad hominem. The argument should be elevated, respectful and entirely about judicial philosophy.

On the Ricci case. And on her statements about the inherent differences between groups, and the superior wisdom she believes her Latina physiology, culture and background grant her over a white male judge. They perfectly reflect the Democrats' enthrallment with identity politics, which assigns free citizens to ethnic and racial groups possessing a hierarchy of wisdom and entitled to a hierarchy of claims upon society.

Sotomayor shares President Obama's vision of empathy as lying at the heart of judicial decision-making -- sympathetic concern for litigants' background and current circumstances, and for how any judicial decision would affect their lives.

Since the 2008 election, people have been asking what conservatism stands for. Well, if nothing else, it stands unequivocally against justice as empathy -- and unequivocally for the principle of blind justice.

Empathy is a vital virtue to be exercised in private life -- through charity, respect and loving kindness -- and in the legislative life of a society where the consequences of any law matter greatly, which is why income taxes are progressive and safety nets are built for the poor and disadvantaged.

But all that stops at the courthouse door. Figuratively and literally, justice wears a blindfold. It cannot be a respecter of persons. Everyone must stand equally before the law, black or white, rich or poor, advantaged or not.

Anonymous said...


Obama and Sotomayor draw on the "richness of her experiences" and concern for judicial results to favor one American story, one disadvantaged background, over another. The refutation lies in the very oath Sotomayor must take when she ascends to the Supreme Court: "I do solemnly swear that I will administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich. . . . So help me God."

When the hearings begin, Republicans should call Frank Ricci as their first witness. Democrats want justice rooted in empathy? Let Ricci tell his story, and let the American people judge whether his promotion should have been denied because of his skin color in a procedure Sotomayor joined in calling "facially race-neutral."

Make the case for individual vs. group rights, for justice vs. empathy. Then vote to confirm Sotomayor solely on the grounds -- consistently violated by the Democrats, including Sen. Obama -- that a president is entitled to deference on his Supreme Court nominees, particularly one who so thoroughly reflects the mainstream views of the winning party. Elections have consequences.

Vote Democratic and you get mainstream liberalism: a judicially mandated racial spoils system and a jurisprudence of empathy that hinges on which litigant is less "advantaged."

A teaching moment, as liberals like to say. Clarifying and politically potent. Seize it.

Anonymous said...

Jeffrey—doesn't it strike you as ironic that you are engaging in stereotyping people based on their race and gender? So according to you, unless you support Sotomayor you share a "disdain…toward racial minorities and women." Nice.

"… how do we practice equality under the law, when there are, I believe, many white men who perhaps share the disdain that Buchanan and Derbyshire seem to have toward racial minorities and women?"

Anonymous said...

I would ask Sotomayor if she agrees with Obama that his daughters should not be eligible for affirmative action?

hscfree said...

@Anonymous I: I really would rather Mr. Krauthammer offer his actual opinion to this discussion, if he found this blog, than to have his op-ed reprinted here. If you, Anonymous I, are saying that your opinion is the exact same as Krauthammer's then I would rather you provide the link to the opinion. If you have an opinion of your own independent of Krauthammer's, I would like to see that here as well. I really do appreciate all comments.

@Anonymous II: I don't think I am really stereotyping at all. There are too many instances supporting exactly what I said, which is exactly why I framed that statement the way that I did. I said neither all or most.

@Anonymous III: I've no idea where Sotomayor would fall on that idea. I can say that I agree with BHO's assessment that his daughters will not need affirmative action. And I am a fan of creating a system where affirmative action is not needed at all. That, of course would require the effort to create the world's first genuine meritocracy. I am all for that.

Scott said...

If laws were simply mathematical formulas, then I would agree with Krauthammer. We could just feed each case into a calculator and spit out a "Justice is Blind" answer. The problem is that laws are words, not numbers. Words are often ambiguous or vague.

What, exactly, is "cruel and unusual" punishment?
What, exactly, is an "undue" burden?
What, exactly, is "unreasonable" search and seizure?

Is it possible that the life experiences of a judge might influence the way he or she defines those words? If person with the background of Sean Hannity was on the Court, he might define "cruel and unusual" in a different way than say, a Justice John McCain?

If I'm confined to a wheelchair and apply for a job for which I am qualified in all ways, but the company would need to spend $2,000 to modify a machine so that I could use it, is that the "reasonable accommodation" that the law requires of an employer? Or is that an "undue burden" on the employer? Might a Justice who was disabled define the words "reasonable" and "undue" in this instance differently than a Justice whose background was in business?

If a law gives a school administrator the authority to conduct "reasonable" searches of students suspected of possession of drugs, is it reasonable for a school principal to strip search a 13 year old girl suspected of possession of ibuprofen? Might a Justice who had actually BEEN a 13 year old girl at some point in her life define the word "reasonable" in this case differently than a Justice who had not had that particular experience?

When Mr. Krauthammer can find a way to process words and lives into a computer and come up with justice that is truly blind, then I'll agree with his argument. Until then, I think it's probably a good thing to have judges who are actual human beings who have had actual human experiences.

Anonymous said...

Jeffrey—you ask "Do white men really feel oppressed by the effort to diversify colleges/universities and workplaces (this includes white women in that diversity mix)?" Again, I find your language interesting. Your use of the word "really." Really, how could you be offended at being discriminated against? It's as if you are shocked at the idea. Second, your use of the word "oppressed." Trying to force white men into the victim status that you know we will find offensive. I don't think there is a lot of oppression in the U.S. today. There's poverty and desperation, but oppression was a term popularized by the left to serve their identity agenda.

I don't feel oppressed, I feel lied to. I was taught by my family, my church and my schools that racial discrimination was wrong. But once I grew up, I realized that what the liberals really meant was that racial discrimination against minorities was wrong. Discrimination against white men served a noble purpose.

You also ask, "How do we ensure that the likes of white men like that really would practice equality?" You define racial and gender discrimination as a crime and then you punish it where and when you find it. You do not install a discriminatory regime to "counter" it.

What really upsets me is that the liberal establishment looks at working class and middle class whites and says "there are a bunch of rich white guys who have had too many good things for too long, so since you look like them, we are going to punish you." If lefties really wanted to attack the establishment why don't they block people who are the third and fourth generation college applicants/graduates of all races from the good things in life, not middle class white guys who are maybe the first or second generation to try to go to college.

By the way, Obama's father went to Harvard and his mother was a well-paid international development worker. He's looks different than other members of the establishment, but he was born into it just like the rest other members of the ruling class. Nothing wrong with that, but let's not pretend that his experience represents some kind of dramatic change.

Anonymous said...

"There are, I believe, many white men who perhaps share the disdain that Buchanan and Derbyshire seem to have toward racial minorities and women?"

You are absolutely stereotyping white men. If we were to substitute white for black in the sentence above and make some generalization about them you would find it offensive.

hscfree said...

@Anonymous (June 1, 7:51 pm): My question is based purely on what I heard both Buchanan and Limbaugh say, and they both used the word oppressed. My use of "really" was because of their suggestion of oppression, not mine. I just wanted to know if my conservative white male friends agreed with them. That's all.

hscfree said...

@Anonymous (June 1, 7:54 pm): Here is a counter for you. There are, I believe, many black people who perhaps share the disdain that rappers and ministers seem to have toward the glbt community.

Mike D. said...

To Scott's point about a black or hispanic scoring well on the SATs but being turned down in favor of a white male Yale/Harvard legacy who scored lower. That is flat out discrimination (against the black/hispanic) as the test score shows that in black and white.

It's affirmative action I have a problem with when anyone loses out to a lesser qualified person in the name of affirmative action or diversity.

Simply put affirmative action as I interpret it (that, being, offering a job to someone less qualified than a white male candidate) is discrimination. Not, "reverse discrimination" just discrimination period.

I'm not an angry white male as I haven't ever been in this situation...that I know of. But, I am not a fan of AA. And, I'd be quite angry - pissed off if I may - if I were one of the firemen whose test Sotomayor overturned.

But as Scott also says, I think her qualifications are great and she is, for the most part, a fair and balanced decision maker. And I think would make a wonderful addition to the SCOTUS!

Just my short opinion. It's definitley a great topic. Thanks Free for a topic that offers such good discussion!