Category Archive 'Identity Politics'
15 Dec 2019
In a must-read article in Claremont Review, Mike Gonzalez explains how the Marxist Left successfully created a second imaginary racial category of victims and turned White Mexicans brown.
I know a Spanish count, a grandee of Spain and a descendant of the Hapsburgs, who got into Yale as a Hispanic victim of White European Oppression. He thought it was hilarious.
Americaâ€™s surging politics of victimhood and identitarian division did not emerge organically or inevitably, as many believe. Nor are these practices the result of irrepressible demands by minorities for recognition, or for redress of past wrongs, as we are constantly told. Those explanations are myths, spread by the activists, intellectuals, and philanthropists who set out deliberately, beginning at mid-century, to redefine our country. Their goal was mass mobilization for political ends, and one of their earliest targets was the Mexican-American community. These activists strived purposefully to turn Americans of this community (who mostly resided in the Southwestern states) against their countrymen, teaching them first to see themselves as a racial minority and then to think of themselves as the core of a pan-ethnic victim group of â€œHispanicsâ€â€”a fabricated term with no basis in ethnicity, culture, or race.
This transformation took effortâ€”because many Mexican Americans had traditionally seen themselves as white. When the 1930 Census classified â€œMexican Americanâ€ as a race, leaders of the community protested vehemently and had the classification changed back to white in the very next census. …
They had the law on their side: a federal district court ruled in In Re Ricardo RodrÃguez (1896) that Mexican Americans were to be considered white for the purposes of citizenship concerns. …
And so as late as 1947, the judge in another federal case (Mendez v. Westminster) ruled that segregating Mexican-American students in remedial schools in Orange County was unconstitutional because it represented social disadvantage, not racial discrimination. At that time Mexican Americans were as white before the law as they were in their own estimation.
Half a century later, many Mexican Americans had been persuaded of a very different origin story. Among the persuaders-in-chief was Paul Ylvisaker, head of the Public Affairs Program at New Yorkâ€™s wealthy Ford Foundation during the 1950s and â€™60s. Though little-known today, he wielded great power and influence to advance a particular vision of social justice inspired partly by socialism and its politics of resentment. Ylvisaker hoped, as he later put it in a 1991 essay, â€œThe Future of Hispanic Nonprofits,â€ that Mexican Americans could be organized into a â€œunited front.â€ That concept, formulated in 1922 by the Comintern, implied a union of disparate groups on the Left into what the Cominternâ€™s 4th World Congress called â€œa common struggle to defend the immediate, basic interests of the working class against the bourgeoisie.â€
Ylvisaker, who saw philanthropy as â€œthe passing gearâ€ of social change, set off to find out if something similar was possible with Mexican Americans. In 1968, he poured $2.2 million in seed funding into the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund (MALDEF), a national advocacy conglomerate whose headquarters still buzz with activity in Los Angeles today.
He built on foundations laid by the organizing guru Saul Alinsky, who had begun the effort to consolidate the Mexican-American vote during Ed Roybalâ€™s 1949 L.A. City Council election. Roybal, an army veteran and distant descendant of New Mexicoâ€™s Spanish settlers, was one of many Democrats at the time whose success in local politics owed much to Alinskyâ€™s organizing tactics. Alinskyâ€™s groups also trained men like Herman Gallegos, Julian Samora, and Ernesto Galarzaâ€”Chicano Movement intellectuals who used Ylvisakerâ€™s Ford Foundation money (starting with a one-year grant of $630,000) to found the interest group La Raza in 1968.
What all these radicals soughtâ€”and were quite successful at eventually achievingâ€”was to analogize the experience of black Americans to that of Latinos. The term La Raza, literally â€œthe race,â€ by itself epitomized this process of racialization. Ylvisaker was direct on this point. In 1964 he handed UCLA researchers the then-goodly sum of $647,999 for a deep survey of Mexican Americans in the Southwest. One of the things he wanted this survey to find out was in what respect the Mexican-American experience was comparable to that of â€œNegroes today.â€
If you look at any university today, you’ll find that the same bad guys have also got Asian kids brainwashed into signing on as another whiny victim group fighting against White Male Oppression, quite ironically since the only real modern discrimination against Asians consists of college admission quotas created and enforced by the very same Left-Wing Establishment that leads them around by the nose.
27 Sep 2019
The Yale Political Union in 1973. I was there.
The YPU’s Liberal Party (dating back to the Union’s founding in 1934, which had McGeorge Bundy, Dick Posner, John Kerry, and Jorge Dominguez for Chairmen) has recently (in a fit of honesty) changed its name to the “Socialist Party,” and its current chairman announced today that it’s quitting the Yale Political Union because the Yale Political Union (O! God! O! God!) allows members of the Party of the Right to say flaming un-PC things, and has no mechanism to punish WrongSpeech.
Chairman Ian Moreau explains why the lefties are seceeding:
The debate over the Unionâ€™s usefulness has long been rumbling within our Party. For years now, the Unionâ€™s debate format has rendered the meaningful development of political beliefs nearly impossible. The quality of student speeches varies wildly and a few unfocused questions at the end of each speech limits direct engagement with a speakerâ€™s arguments. The ideas that members espouse, however, can be even worse. Just last year, members of the Union stood behind a podium to spew blatant transphobia and question whether women should have the right to vote, all without reprimand. In September 2017, the Party of the Right released a whip sheet in which they referred to Indigenous people as savages. Not a single individual was formally censured.
Such incidents have unfortunately become commonplace within the Union and have wrought significant damage on our Party. Members of marginalized communities â€” the people who are crucial to building an authentic Left â€” donâ€™t wish to sit through the needless denigration of their identities nor should they be required to in order to participate in spaces like ours. We have watched as the constant debasement of low-income people, people of color, women and queer folks has led both members and potential recruits to distance themselves from Union and therefore from us. Although our Party has made our concerns explicit and sought reform innumerable times, the structure of the Union itself has made it resistant to change. To be clear, this is not an issue with the current Union leadership; the problem is institutional, not personal.
By leaving the Yale Political Union, we hope to revitalize our Party and construct a better leftist space for future generations of Yale students. We will welcome the people we need to create the networks necessary for thoughtful activism and solidarity-building. We will cultivate a stronger sense of love and community amongst ourselves in order to ensure that our friendships last long after we leave this university. And, perhaps most importantly, we will think, interrogate and theorize as we fight for a better Yale.
We will no longer settle for the detached debate that defines the Yale Political Union. The political nature of our university, of our world, demands to be squarely grappled with. It is not enough to question the Canon, debate the research or criticize the corporation, for intellectual engagement alone will not suffice. Real leftism is bold and unyielding in its battle for greater justice for all people. As conscious inhabitants of this Ivory Tower, we are obligated not only to envision a brighter future, but also to take part in its creation.
Being Leftist today means that you cannot “meaningfully develop your own political beliefs” in an atmosphere that exposes them to different beliefs.
04 Apr 2019
Alexander Zubatov, PR’97, describes, and explains, in a must-read article, the crazy Continental Left’s takeover of the Humanities.
Here… is another common sense truth, a proposition so obvious that it is bizarre that I should even need to set it forth: the race, gender, religion, sexuality or physical ability or disability of its creator is not a legitimate component of an art workâ€™s quality. In fact, these are the very kinds of irrational social considerations that have sometimes regrettably distorted the picture of what hasâ€”and, more importantly, has notâ€”been deemed canonical but which we, whenever we become cognizant of such errors, should try to discount.
But, in recent times, a strange inversion has taken hold of our thinking on the subject of canonicity. Instead of viewing such superficial aspects of the authorâ€™s identity as illegitimate variables the influence of which we should resist as far as possible, we have opened the floodgates in order to admit authors to the canon precisely on the basis of such considerations. Entire courses and majors have grown up around these superficial identitarian affiliations, and works of artâ€”mistaken, perhaps, for democratic legislative bodiesâ€”have been lavished with praise because of their success in representingâ€”in the sense of political rather than aesthetic representationÂâ€”the experience of this or that subgroup. Moreover, the same people who advocate for this identity genre literature also make a habit of assailing the canon for failures of representation, as though the quality of works could be gauged through a demographic survey. This form of philosophically unsound willful self-blinding to the hard truths of aesthetic superiorityâ€”which I would call aesthetic denialismâ€”has become as pandemic in many segments of academia and the left as climate change denialism is on the right and has done great harm to the reputation and status of the humanities.
Lending an air of gravitas to this aesthetic denialism, there has been a proliferation of various branches of continental theoryâ€”largely post-structuralist and Marxistâ€”that espouse a generally critical attitude towards existing hierarchiesâ€”aesthetic hierarchies includedâ€”seeing in these either the reification of indefensible and arbitrary distinctions (post-structuralism) or the pernicious reflections of power (Marxism). To adapt the argument advanced by John Guillory in his Pierre Bourdieu-inspired landmark work, Cultural Capital, during the decades between the downfall of the hereditary aristocracy and the emergence of our modern-day techno-financial elite, university education, particularly classical humanities education, came to serve as a dividing line between an educated aristocracy and common rubes and plebs. In the era of high modernism and prestigious print journalism, university departments conferring such knowledge and its attendant degrees enjoyed substantial cultural cachet and, to dispense such cachet, needed to agree upon a more or less unitary body of learningâ€”the canonâ€”as a boundary between education and inadequacy. But, as the old literary aristocracy gave way to a new moneyed elite, which elbowed its way into the ranks of the upper crust through highly compensated tech and finance industry jobs and needed to know how to read and write nothing more sophisticated than an office memo or PowerPoint presentation, the high school composition curriculum became more than adequate to its needs. Traditional high culture and university humanities were rendered supererogatory, becoming the devalued province of effete and useless intellectuals. Stripped of its most obvious practical function, the universityâ€™s role in what Marxist theorist Louis Althusser would have called the ideological state apparatus, serving to reproduce existing power relationsâ€”and the humanities professoriate drifted off unmoored into the great unknown. A unitary canon was no longer indispensable because the humanities themselves were no longer indispensable.
This led to two related developments. First, with the humanities no longer closely tethered to prevailing power structures, the stability and traditionalism that a close link to power demands fell away, and prominent humanities scholars with radically anti-establishment views were free to crawl out of the woodwork. Second, the new attitude of disrespectâ€”and, increasingly, open scornâ€”that the techno-financial elite and much of the rest of society came to exhibit towards humanities academics led to a natural tit-for-tat. If you are disrespected, you are likely to seethe and lash out at your tormenters. You may, in fact, adopt your own posture of hauteur and disrespect, as if those people were hopelessly beneath you and will never understand you, since they are either too committed to the power relations in which they are embedded or else simpletons, blind to those power relations.
In this fertile ground for resentment, the attitude of critique took root, building on philosophical currents which first surfaced in the late nineteenth century and began to assume a simulacrum of their present-day form during the countercultural era of the 1960s. Bloom regularly fulminated against what he aptly termed these â€œschools of resentment,â€ which I discuss in more detail here. The approach of these peddlers of critiqueâ€”sometimes known as the hermeneutics of suspicionâ€”was to question all established norms and power structures, including the hegemonic structures that had allegedly informed the composition of the canon. Thus, instead of looking up toward the works they studied, these new anti-humanist humanitarians looked at them askance and endeavored to expose and unravel their inner tensions and contradictions and the hierarchies that had produced those works and entrenched them as objects of veneration. If the old humanities had once offered access to the upper echelons of society, what the new anti-humanities marketed was an attitude of superiority towards the society that had scorned them.
As new generations of students reared under the tutelage of these scholars entered the workforce and academia, the cultural capital enjoyed by the posture of critique predictably increased. Canonical lists were blown open, infiltrated by works that were aesthetically second-rate, but politically favored. A bevy of majors and departments in all sorts of identitarian oppression studies departments crystallized. Critique went corporate. Diversity became an industry: spawning seminars, consultants, initiatives and company retreats. At a time when our society had never been more tolerant, open and inclusive, media organizations, now staffed by graduates of these radicalized humanities departments, began to make a living trafficking in identitarian hysteria about racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia.
The numbers confirm this story. They show a pronounced leftward shift in humanities departments since 1990, around the same time when the tech sector, which contributed markedly to the marginalization of the humanities, began its economic takeover.
HT: Katarina Apostilides.
22 Sep 2018
Ian Buruma, the 66-year-old Dutch-born writer and only the third editor in the history of the New York Review of Books, was forced to resign this week.
His crime? Buruma published a self-pitying essay by Jian Ghomeshi, a Canadian musician, writer, and talk show host of Iranian descent, who lost his job in 2014 when an ex-girlfriend accused him of non-consensual rough sex.
Buruma was quickly mobbed on social media where critics complained about the absence of fact-checking (NYRB employs no fact checkers), pointing out that, even though Ghomeshi was acquitted in court, a large number of women had come forward to accuse him of similar bad behavior and that one case was dropped on the condition that he apologize and post a peace bond promising to avoid future misbehavior.
Buruma told Slate:
Iâ€™m no judge of the rights and wrongs of every allegation. How can I be? All I know is that in a court of law he was acquitted, and there is no proof he committed a crime. The exact nature of his behaviour â€” how much consent was involved â€” I have no idea, nor is it really my concern. My concern is what happens to somebody who has not been found guilty in any criminal sense but who perhaps deserves social opprobrium, but how long should that last, what form it should take, etc.
In the end, Buruma chose to fall upon his sword for the good of the publication when university publishers, whose advertising was vital to NYRB, began talking about a boycott.
Toby Young, at Spectator USA, notes the left’s insanity, but seems to blame it on their 2016 defeat.
My own theory is that a small minority on the identitarian Left have used various Maoist tactics, including public shaming on social media, to persuade people that their doctrinaire positions on #MeToo allegations and a range of other issues … are much more ubiquitous than they really are, thereby stifling dissent. …
Who knows how long this paranoid atmosphere will continue. America seems to go through periodic bouts of hysterical puritanism, which partly accounts for the enduring appeal of The Crucible, Arthur Millerâ€™s play about the Salem Witch Trials. I think it largely depends on what happens in the mid-terms. If the Democrats emerge the victors, Trump Derangement Syndrome will start to fade and reason may creep back into Americaâ€™s liberal institutions. But if the Republicans win the day, the Democrats will likely descend into civil war and the identitarian Left may capture the Party, just as itâ€™s captured the UKâ€™s Labour Party. If that happens, donâ€™t expect this hysteria to die down any time soon.
I don’t think the left’s appetite for blood is the result of losing. I think it comes from too much winning. The radical left flagrantly abuses the power it enjoys due to the cowardly spinelessness of the liberal establishment because it can. The more the American institutional establishment grovels to its demands the more extravagant those demands are going to get. Leftist Reigns of Terror do not stop because the Left side won an election. They only stop after the Revolution is done devouring its own.
02 May 2018
Keziah Daum wore this quite becoming Cheongsam dress to her Utah High School Prom, and proudly tweeted some photos. And why not?
But the dress offended SJW Jeremy Lam, who reprovingly tweeted:
Note: 41,958 retweets — 178,771 likes !
Iowahawk observed sharply in reply:
And the editorials are still flying, days later. David French is perfectly correct.
As you survey pop culture, the academy, and American corporations, which side has the upper hand? Which side is defining American discourse? Americaâ€™s most prominent culture-makers obsess over identity. They elevate prom dress choices to matters of national debate. And thatâ€™s why people who still possess a sense of reason, proportion, and manners (on both sides of the political aisle) need to push back. Reason canâ€™t cede the public square to rage. Sometimes a prom dress is just a prom dress. But Lamâ€™s tweet wasnâ€™t â€œjustâ€ a tweet. It was a symbol of the incoherent anger that is tearing this nation apart.
25 Apr 2018
Tranny Phaylen Fairchild has not actually even read the Harry Potter books, but he/she/it somehow knows what they are really all about.
[T]he world of Harry Potter parallels our own. You have those bad guys with power and prestige versus the underdogs, those whose freedoms and civil rights are at risk. In every form and fashion, Harry Potter is an allegory, and perhaps more relevant today than when it was published two decades ago. There is a reason that many Harry potter fans identify as LGBTâ€¦ it is one of the few pieces of literary fiction that provides us access and underscores the emotional and psychological trials of being an undesirable, an outcast.
And he/she/it is on top of every minute expression of opinion on Rowling’s part relevant to his/her/its politics of identity, and it seems that J.K. Rowling, more than once, indulged in politically-unbecoming female solidarity, “liking” some tweets on Twitter denying that real femininity can be achieved through personal choice in defiance of biological reality.
Oh, my god!
I do know who Rowling is, though, and I admired her as an artist; As a purveyor of all things good; A proverbial speck of light in an encroaching political darkness that she could have very well written about. As a writer myself, she was a beacon of hope. As a Trans person, I admired her decision to use her platform to reach across the boundaries of the Have and Have-Nots and provide us a line of defense thatâ€™s not typical of celebrities. Most are terrified of ruffling feathers or polarizing their fan base. I believed that Rowling had a distinct appreciation for the struggles we face here on the ground, and when she spoke it was not simple word-candy, but from an authentic place. Rowling had once been down here with rest of us who do the doggy paddle to stay afloat, all the while pleading for acceptance, inclusion and basic survival, lest we are swept away by the current of indifference.
Itâ€™s not the first time that someone has exhibited outspoken allegiance with women, people of color and gay men, but felt that embracing the Transgender community was stepping too far outside their comfort zone. We see it in politics all the time. There are those who supported the legalization of gay marriage, but those same people also feel Transgender individuals shouldnâ€™t be allowed in public bathrooms. I didnâ€™t expect to see J.K. Rowling reveal herself to be one of them.
Spokesmen for the writer were soon apologizing and crawfishing, but you know how it is: Hell hath no fury like a Social Justice Warrior with a grievance. And he/she/it is unforgiving and determined to lower the boom, concluding: J.K. Rowling is a “TERF- A Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist.”
It’s fun watching lefties fight.
14 Aug 2017
No police intervention occurred even when black ANTIFA counter-demonstrators used aerosol flame-throwers.
My various left-wing correspondents are all energized by the violence in Charlottesville, and are demanding that those of us on the Right take the blame, apologize, and get busy denouncing all those racists and White Supremacists.
It’s sad to see left-right violence, including pepper spray and baseball bats, on American streets, reminding us all a bit of Weimar Germany. But it was obviously not the Conservative Movement, not even the Alt-Right, that brought about these kinds of poisonous national divisions, that fostered all the chauvinistic identity politics, and that provoked the violence.
Our friends on the Left are demanding that we denounce all the demonstrators protesting the removal of the Lee Statue and that we agree to identify all of them as “White Supremacists” and dismiss their motivations as “racism.” There were clearly some fringe group crazies participating in the demonstrations and some unsavory people were present, but that doesn’t make everyone who demonstrated a Nazi, a Klan member, or a White Supremacist.
I don’t recall any time I have ever heard our friends on the Left denouncing the most extreme communist radicals responsible for violence. Actually, they offer excuses, blame the anger of their radical extremists on America and the rest of us, and when their bomb-building murderers get out of jail, they give them teaching positions at universities.
So, sorry, I have no intention of identifying the generality of demonstrators as White Supremacists. I think they were mostly normal people defending their regional and cultural identity, who had been at last pushed too far, who were finally fed up with being insulted and marginalized.
I don’t think most people there had any connection at all to the crazy person from Ohio who drove his car into the counter-demonstrators or to the zanies carrying Swastika flags. And it seems obvious to me that left-wing local and state government took a partisan role, instructing state and city police to stand aside and let ANTIFA thugs intimidate and rough up the demonstrators trying to defend the monument.
The Left, today, is playing its usual propaganda games, trying to stigmatize and shame the opposition, but I think they fail to understand that they’ve been using the same tactics and techniques too long. The Alt-Right is reading Saul Alinsky, too. Their pet media has lost credibility with much of the country, and a lot of us are just completely tired of having the Left play the Race Card.
16 Jul 2017
Two feminist geographers are encouraging their colleagues to be more mindful about citing the research of white males because doing so contributes to â€œthe reproduction of white heteromasculinity of geographical thought and scholarship.â€
Writing in â€œGender, Place & Culture: A Journal of Feminist Geography,â€ Carrie Mott and Daniel Cockayne argue that considering an authorâ€™s gender, race or sexuality prior to citation can be an effective â€œfeminist and anti-racist technology of resistance that demonstrates engagement with those authors and voices we want to carry forward.â€
The authors point out that whether an academicâ€™s research is cited by his peers has significant implications for promotion, tenure and influence. Therefore, to cite only white men â€œdoes a disservice to researchers and writers who are othered by white heteromasculinism.â€
The authors define â€œwhite heteromasculinismâ€ as â€œan intersectional system of oppression describing on-going processes that bolster the status of those who are white, male, able-bodied, economically privileged, heterosexual, and cisgendered.â€
Academics should practice â€œconscientious engagementâ€ when citing research, the feminists assert, â€œas a way to self-consciously draw attention to those whose work is being reproduced.â€
04 Dec 2016
Enzo Selvaggi via Phillip Willian DeVous
“Identity politics is a product of individualism, and individualism is a cornerstone of Anglo-Saxon Western civilization. People used to identify with intellectual identities that were conceived in the higher self – they would say they were Christian and Jewish, capitalist and socialist, working class and job creators, nationalists. But now they are identifying with their lower animal functions – LGBT (who they prefer sexually), vegetarians (what they prefer to eat), white and black (colours that we are born into and have no intrinsic value), gender and sex (which genitals they have), millennials and non-millennials (not youthfulness, but ageism), the music genres they listen to. And these accidental identities are shaping their behaviour, their life decisions, their dress, and their relationships. This is the true Fall of man, the fall from the higher self to the lower self, from the mind and the spirit to food, genitals, and worldliness.”
26 Jul 2016
The DNC list of â€œcommunitiesâ€ â€” 14 in all â€” include African-Americans, Americans with Disabilities, European and Mediterranean Americans, a First Caucus and Faith Caucus, a gay and lesbian caucus and a Latino caucus, a caucus for youth, for seniors and for women.
All-inclusive, right? Of course, as long as youâ€™re, uh, included.
The Pew Research Center â€” in a poll of 2,373 registered voters this spring â€” found women, in general, supported President Obama, 53 percent to 40 percent. Among 221 black people â€” it did not delineate between black men and black women â€” 95 percent favored Obama. The poll had a margin of error of 2.1 percentage points.
But the inclusion makes an important omission: white men, particularly those of working age, say between 30 and 64.
Even former-Conservative now-Progressive, turncoat Andrew Sullivan, convention-blogging at New York Magazine, grew uncomfortable early on last night with all the identity-group pandering.
9:15 p.m. A reader is exactly where I am:
I left the Republican party last week after 20 years of voting for, working for, and giving to its candidates. I forgot why I was for it. I heard nothing about the rule of law, limited government, or free enterprise. It has become a grotesque alternation between ambiguous bigotry and overt bigotry; I wanted nothing to do with it. I almost forgot why I am a conservative.
Tonight it is all coming rushing back to me. Is there nowhere to go for someone who is pro-immigrant and pro-rule of law? Also, this parade of identity politics is condescending and embarrassing for everyone participating. Why canâ€™t we just treat people like people? It would be nice if the Democrats had some African-Americans, Hispanics, gays, or women speak who did not think that their race/orientation/sex was the only interesting thing about themselves or even the most interesting thing about themselves. Couldnâ€™t they have had a disabled girl who was not so entirely predictably and tediously just another flavor of victim?
I remain politically homeless.
Of course, this did not actually keep Andrew from instantly reversing himself and reaffirming his loyalty to leftism.
But we nonetheless have to back the Clintons this time. The survival of liberal democracy is in the balance.
22 Oct 2012
James Taranto, in the Wall Street Journal, defines George McGovern’s contribution to American politics.
One might say McGovern reinvented the Democratic Party by putting identity politics at its center–by encouraging members to think of themselves first in terms of sex or age or skin color (or, later, by sexual orientation). E pluribus, multis.
In the 1973 book “Sexual Suicide,” George Gilder speculated that such an approach “would find its reductio ad absurdum in a President who is an exact ethnic and sexual composite of the American demography–some kind of multiracial hermaphrodite from Kansas City.”
When Gilder wrote that, Barack Obama was 12.
Hat tip to Clarice Feldman.
28 May 2009
JanÃ³s Blaschke, The Goddess Themis, 1786
Justice is conventionally depicted in countless engraved, painted, or sculpted representations displayed at courthouses and in judicial chambers at every administrative level around the European world in the form of the goddess known to the Greeks as Themis, to the Romans as Iustitia. Justice carries a sword and a balance, and is blindfolded.
Themis’ blindfold signifies not her lack of access to reality or to the facts of the cases she is adjudicating, but her indifference to persons or affiliations, her impartiality and objectivity. Themis was not the goddess of justice as an expression of human whim or desire, but of justice in accordance with the divine order.
Judge Sonia Sotomayor, in delivering the Judge Mario G. Olmos Memorial Lecture in 2001 at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, expressed a very different, more contemporary view of justice.
Judge (Miriam) Cedarbaum expresses concern with any analysis of women and presumably again people of color on the bench, which begins and presumably ends with the conclusion that women or minorities are different from men generally. She sees danger in presuming that judging should be gender or anything else based. She rightly points out that the perception of the differences between men and women is what led to many paternalistic laws and to the denial to women of the right to vote because we were described then “as not capable of reasoning or thinking logically” but instead of “acting intuitively.” …
While recognizing the potential effect of individual experiences on perception, Judge Cedarbaum nevertheless believes that judges must transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices and aspire to achieve a greater degree of fairness and integrity based on the reason of law. Although I agree with and attempt to work toward Judge Cedarbaum’s aspiration, I wonder whether achieving that goal is possible in all or even in most cases. And I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society. ….
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. Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O’Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, 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. …
[O]ne 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. …
Each day on the bench I learn something new about the judicial process and about being a professional Latina woman in a world that sometimes looks at me with suspicion. I am reminded each day that I render decisions that affect people concretely and that I owe them constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me requires. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate.
There is always a danger embedded in relative morality, but since judging is a series of choices that we must make, that I am forced to make, I hope that I can make them by informing myself on the questions I must not avoid asking and continuously pondering.
In her lecture, Judge Sotomayor acknowledges the existence of an ideal of impartiality, but implicitly rejects the concept of an objective legal or moral order. She additionally denies that human beings are really capable of impartiality and objectivity.
In the place of the Natural Law, which guided the Greeks and Romans and the framers of the United States, Sonia Sotomayer enshrines the left’s identity politics, its narrative of the victimhood of certain groups, its indifference or hostility to others. As a judge, Sotomayor denies the possibility of transcending human partiality and prejudice. Her openly expressed relativism denies that any real distinction between justice and injustice exists in any case.
In place of justice, “as circumstances and cases require,” Sotomayor proposes to substitute personal emotion.
Her cherished personal emotions, of course, amount really to ethnic and gender-based chauvinism combined with carefully cultivated group and class grievances. Instead of believing that judges should strive to emulate the divine, modern liberalism encourages its representatives in the judiciary to sink and become “all too human,” to be their worst, their most self-infatuated and partisan selves rather than to transcend their own prejudices and animosities. The liberal judge does not aspire to be a disinterested servant of the law. The liberal judge proposes to pursue the interests of groups or persons he or she feels to be specially deserving of advocacy and assistance.
Thomas Sowell describes how Judge Sotomayor’s jurisprudence actually works when applied in reality.
Empathy” for particular groups can be reconciled with “equal justice under law” â€” the motto over the entrance to the Supreme Court â€” only with smooth words. But not in reality. Obama used those smooth words in introducing Judge Sotomayor but words do not change realities.
Nothing demonstrates the fatal dangers from judicial “empathy” more than Sotomayor’s decision in a 2008 case involving firemen who took an exam for promotion. After the racial mix of those who passed that test turned out to be predominantly white, with only a few blacks and Hispanics, the results were thrown out.
When this action by the local civil service authorities was taken to court and eventually reached the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, Sotomayor did not give the case even the courtesy of a spelling out of the issues. She backed those who threw out the test results. Apparently she didn’t have “empathy” with those predominantly white males who had been cheated out of promotions they had earned.
In judging, better to have Themis than Thersites.
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