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A Sotomayor core dump

May 29th, 2009 · 54 Comments

I’ll cop to sharing some of Yglesias’ irritation at the treatment of Sonia Sotomayor, and if Republicans are managing to get a rise out of my pallid ass, I can only imagine the kind of damage they’re doing to their brand among, you know, real Latinos.  For one, it is basically impossible for me to believe that anyone with two functioning brain cells could read the “wise Latina” speech in full and find the notion that it’s “racist” anything but laughable. It’s been done to death in a thousand other venues, but one more time for those who are just joining us now: Sotomayor is talking about different views of how identity affects judging, and in particular she’s focusing on cases the high courts have decided involving race or gender discrimination. She mentions a quotation attributed to Sandra Day O’Connor to the effect that a “wise old man” and a “wise old woman” will come to the same conclusion. And she wonder’s whether that’s true, because historically some very wise jurists handed down decisions that we now mostly recognize as bad ones. She’s suggesting that someone with the experience of living as a disfavored minority might not have fallen prey to some of their errors:

Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.

However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.

This isn’t racist, or even particularly controversial.  It’s just obvious.  Consider Justice Henry Brown’s opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson:

We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff’s argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it.

Let me posit that basically any black man living in Louisiana in 1896 would have understood perfectly well why this is grotesque and misguided, and why “separate but equal” is a cruel fiction. He might not be a better judge on the whole, but he’d surely make a “better” decision in this kind of case. At this point in history, of course, we all understand this—though not in quite the same visceral way—and so a judge of any ethnicity or gender would make a better decision. But there are still cases that might involve somewhat more subtle dynamics—questions, for instance, about when a government policy exerts a “chilling effect” on speech—where a certain kind of experience might make it easier to see what’s going on. Similarly, a judge who had previously run a small business might understand the ways that economic regulation implicates other liberty interests in a more robust way than our current jurisprudence tends to—and in those types of cases a wise entrepreneur might be equipped to make a better decision. Not because entrepreneurs are better, but because there are facets of the situation they’ll more easily comprehend that might not be as obvious to someone with a different experience.

On a related note, I find the “what if a white man said that?” move incredibly grating about 99 percent of the time it’s used, because it’s almost always a way of blotting out all the reasons that it would, in fact, be different. In the instance, it would be weird for a white man to say it because it’s probably not true that the experience of growing up as a white male in the United States specifically enhances one’s understanding of what it means to be a disfavored minority. In other words, it just wouldn’t be true or reasonable in this case—though it might be for a white male who grew up as a religious or ethnic minority somewhere else in the world. So yes, sometimes formally gramatically equivalent statements will have different connotations depending on whether it’s a white person speaking about whites or a Latino speaking about Latinos, because history happened. I realize this is, like, the worst racial injustice ever, but Republicans should realize how insanely tone-deaf they come across when they assert that Sotomayor’s is a “story of privilege” because she was “blessed by Providence with the precisely correct right race-gender two-fer for the moment”—as opposed to poor schmucks saddled with surnames like Bush, I suppose, who had to claw their way into the Ivies on their own merits. Or how it sounds when Fred Barnes engages in bouts of Socratic reasoning like the following:

BARNES: I think you can make the case that she’s one of those who has benefited from affirmative action over the years tremendously.

BENNETT: Yeah, well, maybe so. Did she get into Princeton on affirmative action, one wonders.

BARNES: One wonders.

BENNETT: Summa Cum Laude, I don’t think you get on affirmative action. I don’t know what her major was, but Summa Cum Laude’s a pretty big deal.

BARNES: I guess it is, but you know, there’s some schools and maybe Princeton’s not one of them, where if you don’t get Summa Cum Laude then or some kind of Cum Laude, you then, you’re a D+ student.

I feel pretty confident that Fred Barnes has met a few people who attended Princeton, and does not, in fact, believe that they hand out Summas like party favors. So when he goes hunting for some way to cling to the belief that this woman must be a dunce who got some kind of special treatment, it’s hard not to wonder what his priors are. Or here’s Michael Goldfarb on reports that  “Princeton allowed Sotomayor and two other students to initiate a seminar, for full credit and with the university’s blessings, on the Puerto Rican experience and its relation to contemporary America”:

I went to Princeton but somehow I never got to teach my own class, or grade my own work. One wonders how Sotomayor judged her work in that class, and whether the grade helped or hindered her efforts to graduate with honors.

Now, Goldfarb can’t even have clicked through his own link to read the press release from the 70s about the course. He would have discovered that when the course was launched, all students had for six years been allowed to propose a seminar on material not covered by the curriculum, and that 132 such seminars had been created under those rules. He would have learned that the course was, in fact, taught by a historian and Latin America expert Prof. Peter Winn. And as you watch these gross distortions pile up, you start coming away with the clear impression that they’re not just the result of simple sloppiness, but a deep background conviction that the achievements of Hispanics are always presumptively attributable to special preferences—and that there’s no need to double-check and see whether that’s supported by the facts in this case.  They just know she can’t have really earned it.

Look, it’s not racist to oppose a Latina judicial nominee, or to oppose affirmative action, or to point out genuine evidence of ethnic bias on the part of minorities. What we’re seeing here, though, is people clinging to the belief that Sotomayor has to be some mediocrity who struck the ethnic jackpot, that whatever benefit she got from affirmative action must be vastly more significant than her own qualities, that she’s got to be a harpy boiling with hatred for whitey, however overwhelming the evidence against all these propositions is.  This is really profoundly ugly. Like Yglesias, I don’t think I’m  especially sensitive to stuff like this, or particularly easily moved to anger, but I’m angry. I don’t think Republican pundits really appreciate the kind of damage they’re probably doing, for no reason I can discern given the slim odds of actually blocking the nomination. Which, perhaps, goes to Sotomayor’s point: They really have no idea how they sound to anyone else.

Tags: Horse Race Politics · Law · Sociology


       

 

54 responses so far ↓

  • 1 jre // May 29, 2009 at 3:52 pm

    Wow. You have seized upon the essence of the Right’s Sotomayor commentary, said what needed to be said about it, and stopped. Do posts get any better than this?

  • 2 Patrick // May 29, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    You are correct in your anger. You are correct in your assessment for how stupid this whole opposition is.

    But you’re also wrong in its damage. Nothing the Republicans do right now has any bearing on the outcome of the 2010 election in any way, short of a radical realignment that will cost them a huge section of their base. With sacrifice, the Republicans can change their acceleration, but not their velocity and position. Why should they pay a political cost now if the payoffs don’t come for possibly decades?

    None of this opposition dancing will matter by 2012. What Republicans are wasting is an opportunity for Democrats, who might have reservations against this pick, to fight internally. By standing in opposition and being idiots, they don’t give the democrats the opportunity to fail, and fail in a way that results in a more conservative judge.
    ==
    Horse Race politics matters for inertia and positioning, and finally strategic blows in the final weeks of an election. Trying to horse race this this early is silly. The Republican’s aren’t hurt by their opposition because most Americans have no idea what is going on, and those that do will either forget or are unaffected by this kind of politics.

    At the margin things like this effect the image of the Republican party relative to the Hispanic population. At the same time, Republicans could be the most minority friendly party possible within the context of their political-philosophy and they’d still lose. Most minorities, like almost all other voters, don’t make informed voting decisions. Most people vote for stupid reasons, and those stupid reasons will persist regardless of what the Republicans do or don’t do. Republicans could put minorities candidates up for nomination against every white democrat politician, and they’d still lose a majority of the minority vote. They would lose less, and have a winning coalition, but that’s not the point. No matter how awesome the Republicans are, too many systematic problems are against them from ever achieving a majority of the minority vote.

    If the Republicans wish for more minorities to vote for them, they just have to do two things:
    1: Encourage suburbanization amongst minorities.
    2: Make minorities wealthier and working more knowledge work jobs. Something wealthy enough that high taxes are an issue and outside of the benefit range of government services, but poor enough that they can’t just ignore the deleterious effects of government.

    I know the horse race is fun and all, but systematic effects are way more important then the week to week political maneuvers. By year’s out no one will care about or remember this. Your outrage, while important, should be built with these constraints in mind.
    For me it’s like this.
    Republican opposition to Sotomayor hurts Republicans because it weakens certain kinds of reformists in the party who are necessary to bring about political victory in 2012 or 2014. And those reformists would probably be better for the United States then either the current Democrats or the current Republicans. Republican opposition also prevents internal revolt in the Democratic party, since it lets them rally against the Republicans. This enables certain kinds of Democrats who put about policies that are bad for the country relative to all of the possible groups. My anger comes from the fact that the strategically best play is to let your opponent punt. When you have no shot of winning, sometimes the best play is to let your opponent screw it up.

  • 3 C. Collom // May 29, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Initially, let’s stipulate that 99.999% of the criticism of Sotomayor is fallacious.

    She said, in her famous speech, “Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.”

    Is it off sides to criticize the idea that race affects neurology to the point that it changes ones judging? They didn’t teach neuropsychology at my law school, and I’d like to hear her honor lay a foundation for her opinions.

    And, yes, in the end, I would, out of prejudice, prefer a judge who assumed that significant differences in human behavior across ethnicities were based on culture and experience rather than biology.

  • 4 southpaw // May 30, 2009 at 12:33 am

    C. Collom, if you reread what you quoted, I think you’ll find that Sotomayor is not defending the proposition that “race affects neurology to the point that it changes ones judging.”

    Rather, she’s saying that for reasons which may be experiential or inherent, national origin and gender can change one’s judging. I think the most natural reading of that is (a) national origin may change one’s judging because of inherent cultural differences or because a different national background leads to different experiences and (b) gender may change one’s judging because of inherent physiological differences or because being of a different gender leads to diferent experiences. Sotomayor isn’t actually taking a position on any of those possibilities, but she is saying that different judges bring a different perspective to their work whatever the reason.

    That’s precisely the proposition, so far as I can tell, that Julian is defending here from the perspective of experience. And it’s really pretty innocuous.

    (And as a side note, these sort of nature/nurture distinctions are extremely difficult to draw out. Is it being born a woman or the experience of being a woman that changes your view? How can we tell whether differences arise from the experience of being blind or the thing itself?)

  • 5 Viz // May 30, 2009 at 12:38 am

    Patrick, I can certainly get behind the idea of “making minorities wealthier” if you’re talking in a general sense of removing some of the structural inequities in America.

    More likely, though, you’re just putting forth the deeply condescending notion that minorities tend to vote Democratic because of some sort of class resentment, or because they’re not sufficiently invested in American middle class mores, or because they’re voting their provincial minority interests, or whatever. I encourage you in this belief, because I relish the thought that Republicans will continue to lose elections. But I also have some bad news: I’m a wealthy knowledge worker who as spent long stretches in the suburbs, and most of the meaningfully “deleterious effects of government” I’ve seen in my lifetime have been due to Republicans.

    I vote Democratic — as minorities will continues to do so for the foreseeable future — not just because I don’t relish voting for racist troglodytes, but also because Republican policies pretty much suck.

  • 6 C. Collom // May 30, 2009 at 12:50 am

    @ Southpaw: I accept that women, due to various biological reasons, approach problem solving different from men. However, her honor doesn’t limit her comments to gender based physiological differences. (Though I’d love a more comprehensive statement from her on the differences between female and male cognition.) She specifically refers to “gender and national origins” in her remarks and innate characteristics.
    I’m honestly not trying to be controversial here. I suspect we’re reading too much into these remarks, and I hope she is asked to explain her views on race and cognition (as well as why she holds those views). At the very least it might give us all a little more education on the topic.

  • 7 Doug // May 30, 2009 at 8:37 am

    The law of diminishing marginal intelligence (or Doug’s Syndrome) says that each new insight on a topic will be a little bit dumber than the last. The downside of distributed media is that guys like Barnes end up with the microphone.

    If Princeton decided to completely ignore intelligence and ability and diligence and every other standard just to admit a Latina, they still have their choice of a few millions of which they’d presumably select the smartest, most capable and hardest working, if only out of nostalgia for the old all-white, all-male, dynastic meritocracy. The affirmative action fetish still ends up with Sonia Sotomayor as an exemplary student and thinker.

    Twenty-some odd years ago, a principle reason I decided I was conservative was because even though I believed discrimination existed and was bad, the left so focused on grievances that it started to seem like liberals expected society to move all the norms to keep the lazy and stupid from ending up in poverty. The chief currency of that was identity-based injury. I don’t understand how conservatives even older than I am can’t hear themselves say things like “If a white man had said it” and recognize the formula. Why don’t they understand that by concentrating their minds on Sonia Sotomayor’s “advantages” that they flatter by imitation?

    In the end, she has all the credentials needed to qualify and if it didn’t matter that Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. came by his relying on heredity, it can’t matter if Sonia Sotomayor got hers the same way.

  • 8 southpaw // May 30, 2009 at 9:32 am

    “I hope she is asked to explain her views on race and cognition (as well as why she holds those views). At the very least it might give us all a little more education on the topic.”

    Why not ask her about her views on being a judge and how she would approach race and gender discrimination cases? That’s what the speech was about.

  • 9 southpaw // May 30, 2009 at 9:46 am

    Or you could read this study of Sotomayor’s race-related cases . . .

    In sum, in an eleven-year career on the Second Circuit, Judge Sotomayor has participated in roughly 100 panel decisions involving questions of race and has disagreed with her colleagues in those cases (a fair measure of whether she is an outlier) a total of 4 times. Only one case (Gant) in that entire eleven years actually involved the question whether race discrimination may have occurred. (In another case (Pappas) she dissented to favor a white bigot.) She participated in two other panels rejecting district court rulings agreeing with race-based jury-selection claims. Given that record, it seems absurd to say that Judge Sotomayor allows race to infect her decisionmaking.

  • 10 Doug // May 30, 2009 at 10:56 am

    For real, Southpaw. I’d sure hate to see a supreme court nominee skate by without sharing how she’d rule on the human brain.

  • 11 Matthew Yglesias » Losing the Crucial “White People With Spanish Last Names” Vote // May 30, 2009 at 11:28 am

    […] friend Julian Sanchez, another not-especially-Hispanic blogger/pundit, has an excellent post on Sonia Sotomayor and the baffling tactics of the conservative movement. I’ll just quote the […]

  • 12 dj spellchecka // May 30, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    Patrick wrote” If the Republicans wish for more minorities to vote for them, they just have to encourage suburbanization amongst minorities.”

    it’s already happening.

    the suburbs were noticeably less white in 08 than they were only two cycles before….and guess what…obama won the suburbs pretty much everywhere outside the south…that helped him flip NV, CO, IN, VA and FL just for starters….

  • 13 Patrick // May 30, 2009 at 4:11 pm

    Viz, I believe the causal mechanisms flow that way yes. The conditions of their urbanization, education, job, and wealth create behaviors, values, incentives, and political judgements that result in them voting Republican. Your ‘or whatever’, is quite on the money, and I’m surprised you’re so quick to dismiss it.

    When you take minority demographics and adjust for urbanization levels, wealth, education levels, and job classification, the actual movable percentage of possible Republican voters amongst these minorities is quite small. The number of ‘viz’s’ if you will, that could be wooed through diversity outreach without shifting policy or ideology is quite small. I would seriously even contend that even if the Republican’s put forth every minority politician in the party for all the relevant positions from now through 2012, and censored all racist idiocy, they would still lose a majority of the minority vote.

    There are other factors involved. Voter inertia alone would continue the pattern. The reasons WHY people vote and the reasons people THINK they know why that they vote are completely different. Our brains don’t work that way. We come up with the justification after the fact and we will delude themselves with cognitive dissonance in the short run. It is convenient for our psyches to say that we are rejecting the Republicans because of racism, and as long as there is evidence to be found to support it, it will be found. In time, without evidence, the reason would be dropped, but a NEW reason would emerge. I don’t know what that new reason would be, all I can say is that there will be a reason and at that time a majority of minorities will still not vote Republican.
    Structure matters. If structure matters, what incentive do Republicans have in the short run to change their behavior?

    When elections were close, the small number of potential republicans (vis) who could be wooed over through non-stupidity and outreach matters, and through a simple behavior change they could go from a minority party to a small majority party. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter.
    I’m saying there are much more important issues to address if you want to make a big dent. If you don’t address those issues, all this outreach will merely be number balancing between losing the declining racist vote versus going from 8% of minorities to 15%, or whatever.
    Most elections aren’t close and 2010 and 2012 are unlikely to be close unless Democrat policies are super bad.

    One could make the case that this is a cause for reform, that changing demographics, cultures, and market economies over the next half century will weaken the base of the Republican party and that if it wishes to survive it must find a place for an ideology and policy changes.

    The fact that there is no major urban conservative movement, with significant relevant policy proposals from that, matters way more then the fact then the fact it’s an all white guy club. Chances are that if there was such a movement, there would exist a relevant backlash in the party that would shut down these idiots before they cause too much damage.

    It’s not just urbanism, but that’s an example
    Republicans reformists need to also address the:
    1: Post-Bachelor losses
    2: The non-semi-local service economy jobs
    3: The losses amongst the wealthy
    4: The losses amongst the poor
    And while reformists argue that they can push through these changes without significantly changing conservatism, they are facing opposition, predominately from idiots who like to mis-pronounce names or mock foreigners.

    Maybe you can make a very good strategic case that ‘addressing the race problem’ needs to be done before shifting policy positions, but now we’d just be arguing about cart and horse problem. Which one pulls the other.

    BTW care to explain this statement:
    and most of the meaningfully “deleterious effects of government” I’ve seen in my lifetime have been due to Republicans.
    I’m guessing you do foreign work outside of North America or Far East, or that you are in higher academia or research programs. What’s your income level and education level? If you were as educated about politics as the person living next door to you, or someone you work with would you hold the same views? Remember, we’re part of a highly active group who views politics as a hobby. Most people and most voters don’t care.
    I suspect with closer examination you’ll find a reason for why your anecdote is an exception and not a rule.

    This all assumes you’re a middle-aged man.
    Women vote for stranger reasons.

    I’ll close this point with this. Without changing policy or ideology, are any of you who disagree seriously contending that the Republican Party could make significant gains amongst any group that doesn’t vote for them simply by changing their appearance? Wouldn’t that mean (perceived) policy is irrelevant?
    As hobbiests we all find these kind of things SUPER exciting, but in the end, do they really matter? Or could there be something else, like structural reasons for that can better explain why people vote?
    ===
    I think Julian Sanchez is correct. He is CORRECT to be morally outraged by this. He is CORRECT in his opinions of how people SHOULD act.
    He is wrong on the world IS. It doesn’t matter at all what the Republican’s do. Attention spans are too short for this incident to be remembered, and structural problems are too grand over the next few years to make a serious change in the political landscape.
    I wish it were the other way. I seriously do wish we could live in a world where idiocy like this is punished. It would be grand if every voter was a philosopher king, who kept up to date on these events. But even amongst US, who amongst you will seriously contend that by June of next year you will even remember this event without significant prodding? And we’re the super informed ones!

  • 14 Jon H // May 30, 2009 at 6:40 pm

    Patrick wrote” If the Republicans wish for more minorities to vote for them, they just have to encourage suburbanization amongst minorities.”

    That might work – if their new suburban Republican neighbors don’t freak out and react with hostility and xenophobia.

    If a bunch of working middle-class Latinos move into a suburb, and some GOP politician starts complaining about all the ‘illegals’ and the new foreign restaurants and the ‘Mexican drug dealers with their fancy cars’ and how their town is changing and they don’t like it…

    That ain’t gonna help the GOP.

  • 15 The Spanish Word for “Kabuki” is “Kabuki” « Around The Sphere // May 30, 2009 at 7:25 pm

    […] UPDATE #10: Julian Sanchez […]

  • 16 Kieran // May 30, 2009 at 8:14 pm

    More radical identity politics:

    … when a case comes before me involving, let’s say, someone who is an immigrant — and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases — I can’t help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn’t that long ago when they were in that position. And so it’s my job to apply the law. It’s not my job to change the law or to bend the law to achieve any result. But when I look at those cases, I have to say to myself, and I do say to myself, “You know, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother. They were not citizens at one time, and they were people who came to this country.” When I have cases involving children, I can’t help but think of my own children and think about my children being treated in the way that children may be treated in the case that’s before me. And that goes down the line. When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account. When I have a case involving someone who’s been subjected to discrimination because of disability, I have to think of people who I’ve known and admire very greatly who’ve had disabilities, and I’ve watched them struggle to overcome the barriers that society puts up often just because it doesn’t think of what it’s doing — the barriers that it puts up to them.

  • 17 Viz // May 30, 2009 at 8:29 pm

    Patrick,

    I…don’t really have any idea what you’re taking about. You do have a uniquely reductive view of voting behavior, but I think we can agree that Republicans will have trouble winning minority votes without putting forth policies that are actually appealing to minorities (and, relatedly, without eschewing positions that are odious to minorities). This seems rather obvious, but I suppose one should never take these things for granted.

    What I was pushing back on was the — again, hilariously reductive — view that if we can just get those minorities into the suburbs, we’ll turn them into reliable Republicans in no time. Because, as we all know, suburbanites are highly informed citizens who understand the perils of government overreach and therefore more reliably reach the correct decision in the voting booth. Unlike minorities. Or something.

    Anecdotally, I am a (non-minority) suburban knowledge worker who happens not to think that a few points in either direction on my marginal tax rate is the most important issue facing the planet. Neither am I a woman, or a foreign aid worker, or middle-aged. Who can say what “strange reasons” prevent me from voting Republican? Maybe it was childhood trauma!

  • 18 jrshipley // May 30, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    I like your point about priors and was thinking something similar about the firefighter case that the right is obsessing over (ignoring 97 other rulings on discrimination). When one learns that only whites passed an exam, it can be taken as evidence that either: (a) the exam was flawed, or (b) the minorities that took it are flawed. Most of us would go for (a). Some of us might not be so sure, maybe wonder about sample size, but would certainly find (a) to be plausible enough to warrant throwing out the results as a precaution against racial bias in the hiring process. Maybe some would need to see evidence regarding testing bias before settling on the plausibility of (a). But it seems to me that to conclude that (a) is not even plausible enough to warrant disregarding the results as a precaution demands very strongly biased priors toward finding racially stratified outcomes on fair exams entirely unsurprising.

    So what does it say about a person that they–in spite of evidence that poor test design often results in cultural biasing–not only go for (b) but won’t even consider (a) as a reasonable response? It tells me that their priors are strongly biased toward the hypothesis that minorities are lesser and can only get ahead through “reverse discrimination”. What ugliness we’re seeing manifested on the right these days. Blech.

  • 19 Chrononautic Log 改 » Blog Archive » Because history happened // May 31, 2009 at 1:01 am

    […] Julian Sanchez on the Republican response to the Sotomayor nomination: […]

  • 20 Ramstadt // May 31, 2009 at 7:21 am

    The race battle lives in Mississippi in connection with other crimes and political aspirations.

  • 21 Luis Villa: two other people capture what I’m thinking perfectly | Techie News // May 31, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    […] Julian Sanchez on the reaction from some quarters to Sonia Sotomayor. Sanchez is a lot like me- sort of libertarian-leaning, not terribly comfortable with lefty identity politics, and not very close to his Hispanic heritage. And still, apparently, pretty damned angry over the reception Sonia Sotomayor has gotten. The whole thing is really worth reading, but the money graph is: Look, it’s not racist to oppose a Latina judicial nominee, or to oppose affirmative action, or to point out genuine evidence of ethnic bias on the part of minorities. What we’re seeing here, though, is people clinging to the belief that Sotomayor has to be some mediocrity who struck the ethnic jackpot, that whatever benefit she got from affirmative action must be vastly more significant than her own qualities, that she’s got to be a harpy boiling with hatred for whitey, however overwhelming the evidence against all these propositions is. This is really profoundly ugly. […]

  • 22 Emily // May 31, 2009 at 6:41 pm

    An excellent and profoundly sane post, Julian.

  • 23 Lester Hunt // Jun 1, 2009 at 2:22 am

    Julian,

    I said some, though by no means all, of these things, here:

    http://lesterhhunt.blogspot.com/

  • 24 What I’ve been reading, 6/1 « Rortybomb // Jun 1, 2009 at 10:27 am

    […] Sotomayor Core Dump, Julian Sanchez. Another person, who has probably seen his fair share of DC nonsense, is caught off […]

  • 25 Why We Worry » Blog Archive » Nominee Sotomayor, continued | Where Turkoglu happens™ // Jun 1, 2009 at 10:31 am

    […] Julian Sanchez too: Look, it’s not racist to oppose a Latina judicial nominee, or to oppose affirmative action, or to point out genuine evidence of ethnic bias on the part of minorities. What we’re seeing here, though, is people clinging to the belief that Sotomayor has to be some mediocrity who struck the ethnic jackpot, that whatever benefit she got from affirmative action must be vastly more significant than her own qualities, that she’s got to be a harpy boiling with hatred for whitey, however overwhelming the evidence against all these propositions is.  This is really profoundly ugly. […]

  • 26 Amazing « The Poor Man Institute // Jun 1, 2009 at 1:36 pm

    […] an unrelated story, this is the Republican line of attack against Judge Sotomayor, which, I can’t help noticing, bears some striking similarities to the Republican line of […]

  • 27 Cornyn reverts to form – Off the Kuff // Jun 2, 2009 at 6:49 am

    […] who the “us” is and who the “them” is. After all, as others have noted, identity politics is something that happens to white people, not something that is done by them. […]

  • 28 Noli Irritare Leones » Blog Archive » Links: Domestic Terrorism, Basic Income Grants in Namibia, Butchness, and Sotomayor // Jun 2, 2009 at 11:37 am

    […] Sanchez offers A Sotomayor core dump. Also, Ta-Nehisi Coates on The Pervasive Fear That Minorities Are Getting Away With […]

  • 29 Cloud // Jun 2, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Patrick, you say “Women vote for stranger reasons.” I, of course, vote for which ever candidate I think is hottest. Isn’t that what men do?

    Honestly, that statement is so inane I can’t believe I’m bothering to answer it. You may not understand the issues that matter to me, but that doesn’t mean I’m not voting on issues.

    Julian, your post is excellent. I am not sure how much of the belief that Judge Sotomayer must be some sort of dunce benefiting from affirmative action stems from her gender and how much stems from her ethnicity. I am about as white as a woman can be, and I have also been told that my accomplishments must be due to affirmative action of some sort. I have seen posts similar to yours that focus more on the gender aspect. I suspect Judge Sotomayer is getting a double whammy on this. I think the biggest worry for the Republican party with regard to this response is that I’m not even surprised by it.

  • 30 Grad Student // Jun 2, 2009 at 1:50 pm

    Thank you, Julian, for being pissed. I’m pissed too. I’m a female Ph.D. student in engineering in one of the world’s top program for my area of research, with a prestigious national fellowship, and an undergraduate degree from that tech school in Cambridge, MA. A lot of people I’ve met have assumed that I got this far because I’m some affirmative action case. They quickly shut up when they realize I’m ACTUALLY smarter than them.

    This is easy in engineering where “smarter” and “more successful” are pretty obvious. I’d imagine in a position like federally appointed justice it would not be as easy to determine “smarter” or “better.” I feel terrible that she’s going through this and I wish her all the best. She deserves this honor, she has earned this honor, and I think in time she’ll prove it to everyone. In the mean time, let’s continue being pissed.

  • 31 John // Jun 2, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    “They really have no idea how they sound to anyone else.”
    That really sums it up about perfectly. I can’t say I ever really liked Newt Gingrich, for example, but I at least used to concede his basic intelligence and his ability to marshall his arguments in an articulate, coherent way. Watching him these days, I just sit there with my jaw half-opened, just astonished at the tone-deafness of his insipid yammering, be it about torture, “racism” (the man can’t POSSIBLY be serious!), the deficit, or whatever. Listen to Rush these days. Or O’Reilly. Or Coulter. Ingraham. Savage. Hannity. Et al, et al, et al. They have ALL become completely unhinged. It’s like seeing an autistic child in a public place, walking around in a tight circle, repeating the same 5-word phrase over and over again, while his parents silently watch, and you try hard not to stare. The GOP of 2009 is in a death spiral and they don’t even know it yet. And, frankly, as a Democrat, all I can say is I hope everyone of these fools gets as much air time as humanly possible. It’s just breathtaking.

  • 32 Moderate and Libertarian Republicans, Read This Closely: Julian Sanchez is Pissed Off! « Prometheus Unbound // Jun 2, 2009 at 2:10 pm

    […] a comment » At his blog today, Julian Sanchez, a contributing editor to Reason magazine, lets loose on the way Republicans are treating Sonia Sotomayor: I’ll cop to sharing some of Yglesias’ […]

  • 33 bartman // Jun 2, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Sotomayor won the Pyne Prize at Princeton, the university’s highest undergrad honor, as the most accomplished senior in academics and community involvement. (Alito didn’t win that prize.) So, in brief, she was the best student at what is quite possibly the best university in the world. And this the GOP calls stupid.

  • 34 Ottovbvs // Jun 2, 2009 at 4:44 pm

    The Sotomayor nomination is turning into another substantial friendly fire incident in two respects. Firstly in the general sense that the overheated racist rhetoric just reinforces the overall perception that this is a bunch of loose lipped loons. No more than that and the effect may be transitory but it is not good particularly when it’s taken in the context of all the other idiocy. Then there’s the specific turnoff firstly with Hispanics and blacks because it quite simply positions Republicans as an anti minority party that no member of a minority is ever going to vote for, and secondly with the millenials who just perceive them as racist and anti minority. This will be permanent.

  • 35 Dog Days of Summer: Not Yet Here « The ‘Dredge Report // Jun 3, 2009 at 12:06 am

    […] posts that I’ve enjoyed recently: Sanchez on Sotormayor, Jezebel and Feministe on patients’ experiences with George Tiller, and, well, not a blog, […]

  • 36 Luis Villa’s Blog / two other people capture what I’m thinking perfectly // Jun 3, 2009 at 7:16 am

    […] Julian Sanchez on the reaction from some quarters to Sonia Sotomayor. Sanchez is a lot like me- sort of libertarian-leaning, not terribly comfortable with lefty identity politics, and not very close to his Hispanic heritage. And still, apparently, pretty damned angry over the reception Sonia Sotomayor has gotten. The whole thing is really worth reading, but the money graph is: Look, it’s not racist to oppose a Latina judicial nominee, or to oppose affirmative action, or to point out genuine evidence of ethnic bias on the part of minorities. What we’re seeing here, though, is people clinging to the belief that Sotomayor has to be some mediocrity who struck the ethnic jackpot, that whatever benefit she got from affirmative action must be vastly more significant than her own qualities, that she’s got to be a harpy boiling with hatred for whitey, however overwhelming the evidence against all these propositions is. This is really profoundly ugly. […]

  • 37 hwickline.com :: Sotomayor and the Republicans. // Jun 3, 2009 at 10:13 am

    […] you, it’s fascinating. While you wait with baited breath for that update, however, check out Julian Sanchez on the dangerous optics of Republican opposition to Sotomayor for the Supreme Court: Look, it’s not racist to oppose a Latina judicial nominee, or to oppose affirmative action, or […]

  • 38 Immigration Matters » Blog Archive » Hispanic vs. Latino/a // Jun 3, 2009 at 10:18 am

    […] same thing under these circumstances:  As Reason magazine contributing editor Julian Sanchez wrote on his personal blog, “[I]t would be weird for a white man to say it because it’s […]

  • 39 THE WRONG SOTOMAYOR OPPOSITION STRATEGY - The Public Interest : WTVC NewsChannel 9: Chattanooga News, Weather, Radar, Sports, Lottery // Jun 3, 2009 at 10:23 am

    […] Julian Sanchez: […]

  • 40 Barry // Jun 3, 2009 at 10:55 am

    John // Jun 2, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    “”They really have no idea how they sound to anyone else.”
    That really sums it up about perfectly. I can’t say I ever really liked Newt Gingrich, for example, but I at least used to concede his basic intelligence and his ability to marshall his arguments in an articulate, coherent way. Watching him these days, I just sit there with my jaw half-opened, just astonished at the tone-deafness of his insipid yammering, …”

    The thing to remember about Newt is that he had one good election (94), and that was it. And that was helped immensely by (a) the fact that the economy still s*cked, (b) the elites in DC and in the MSM hated Clinton (he raised their taxes), and (c) most relevantly today, a Southern Strategy based on getting Angry White Men was still doable.

  • 41 David // Jun 3, 2009 at 11:31 am

    “Julian Sanchez on the reaction from some quarters to Sonia Sotomayor. Sanchez is a lot like me- sort of libertarian-leaning, not terribly comfortable with lefty identity politics, and not very close to his Hispanic heritage. And still, apparently, pretty damned angry over the reception Sonia Sotomayor has gotten.”

    OK, can you effin respond to this Julian? What does not being close to one’s Hispanic heritage mean? Are you talking white? Do you not carry a “La Raza” card in your wallet. Are you light skinned (school daze)? Are you uncomfortable with high rates of school dropouts and teen pregnancy. Seriously, what?

    As for the Cum Laude argument and affirmative action comments… well, there is an 800 lb elephant in the room and its surname is Wang-Chowdry… those folks weren’t slaves and still they don’t need preferences to get into top schools. As long as you have preferences, the recipients will ALWAYS have a asterick next to their degree. Is what it is.

    As for her treatment in the hearings… well, I hope its nasty and rough. Either she can take it and parry whatever stupidity comes her way or perhaps this appointment for life is not something that she is deserving of. Turning the Senate confirmation process into a made for TV game of zingers and gotcha moments obviously ruined the career of Biden.

    Would love to read Julian Sanchez’s rants on Miguel Estrada.

  • 42 JB // Jun 3, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    “achievements of Hispanics are always presumptively attributable to special preferences”

    Julian, don’t you understand that this is the problem with affirmative action?

    If affirmative action is in place, every person of every group who benefits is now suspect. Did they actually earn their place or were they given it through affirmative action?

    That’s the main way affirmative action does so much damage. Minorities are now viewed as less-qualified by default thanks to affirmative action.

  • 43 ulp // Jun 3, 2009 at 10:33 pm

    Yeah, JB, it was better back when the Bushes and their ilk were just shooed into Yale based on their names and took C’s.

    Don’t you understand that your meritocracy can only be judged on its results?

    That’s why dumb fratboys are now viewed as less-qualified by default thanks to legacies.

  • 44 JB // Jun 4, 2009 at 1:18 am

    ulp, I tend to view fratboys as stupid too. Though thanks to affirmative action I view minorities in the same light.

    I guess in your eyes that makes it a success.

  • 45 ulp // Jun 4, 2009 at 1:25 pm

    I suspect you’d come up with some other reason to view them that way anway, since graduating summa doesn’t seem to alleviate your doubt.

    Don’t worry, they didn’t steal your spot.

  • 46 I Guess I’m Young But I Feel So Weary « Keep Calm and Carry On // Jun 6, 2009 at 3:10 am

    […] Me too.  Also this, from Julian Sanchez: Look, it’s not racist to oppose a Latina judicial nomine, or to oppose affirmative action, […]

  • 47 mauman // Jun 8, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    “What if a white man said that?”

    Switching the words white and black, for example, doesn’t work because history among people is not symmetric.

    “Traditional black college” sounds OK. “Traditional white college” doesn’t sound so good.

  • 48 Live By Ubuntu // Jun 12, 2009 at 7:08 am

    […] by numerous prominent conservatives. Second, as Reason magazine’s Julian Sanchez has noted, “[I]t would be weird for a white man to say it because it’s probably not true that the […]

  • 49 Advice to Sotomayor: Go Country and You’ll Never Go Wrong | Left Coast Cowboys // Jul 15, 2009 at 10:32 pm

    […] comment, D.C. writer, journalist and blogger Julian Sanchez has one of the best deconstructions here. It’s also probably important to note that Sotomayor’s comment was made at a forum for […]

  • 50 Judge Sotomayor a win-win for Democrats as Republicans fly off the handle // Oct 27, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    […] which Sotomayor sided with her conservative counterpart more often than not. But, as Julian Sanchez writes: “What we’re seeing here, though, is people clinging to the belief that Sotomayor has […]

  • 51 Eunomia » Perspectives // Feb 5, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    […] circles. This becomes very frustrating for everyone in the debate. Julian Sanchez has more bluntly summed up his frustration: For one, it is basically impossible for me to believe that anyone with two […]

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