June 9th, 2009
David Brooks voted against John McCain, fearing a continuation of disastrous policies. However, his rhetorical pandering to the sensibilities of the conservatives constitutes a great loss to the public. This major columnist cannot hope to assist in the reformation of a major political party while continuing to spout the precise viewpoints that abuse the rights of minorities and women to be something other than American, White Men.
This latest column in which Brooks reluctantly decides he won’t oppose Judge Sotomayor’s appointment (“Cautious at Heart”)is a most unfortunate display of intolerance for diversity. My interpretation of this column is that our leaders are expected to ‘blend in’ with the ‘mainstream’. Unfortunately, the ‘mainstream’ is in considerable pain and disarray today for the lack of an infusion of novel thought processes rooted in different experiences. Brooks himself boggles at the fact that “…despite the ideas she picked up while young…” Sotomayer still arrived at sound legal conclusions. He appears fearful of acknowledging that her ability to make sound legal decisions in a climate of irrationality, might actually be based in her experiences as a Latina. Who better to understand the effects of justice suspended than a member of two discriminated classes? Yet he believes she was ‘scarred’ by that freeing experience of celebrating her heritage. What shame is there in the multiple hues and cultural patterns comprising America? Is everyone to follow a script and ignore their ancestors unless approved by the DAR?
Here are my comments in the NYT blog today with some slight edits.
64. June 09, 2009 11:17 am
In this column, David Brooks turns the party of ‘no’ into the party of a very grudgingly awarded ‘yes’. Interestingly, Brooks’ prior argument was that this judge was overly emotional. Now, she has somehow transformed into a rather dull jurist of reasonable competence. The shift in directions between these two columns is sufficient to cause whiplash in the average reader.
This column also appears to revile the richest aspect of this country’s struggle to reach emotional maturity from its base in violent xenophobia. Our nation of immigrants appears to have decided it is a good idea to celebrate one’s entire heritage instead of embracing self denial in the mistaken impression that citizens possess a uniformity which can never exist.
I confess that I am unable to follow the line of argument in the remainder of the column which disparages this phenomenon. It appears that Brooks feels the multicultural revolution of the seventies somehow ‘scarred’ Judge Sotomayor. This idea was apparently communicated in speeches in which she often identifies herself as a Latina (Spanish being so efficient as to dispense with the term, ‘woman’ given its gender-specific suffixes). Far from indicating any racist tendency, her language reflects the constitutional principle which condemns discrimination.
Equality is not a ‘social agenda’. It is a right. Diversity in heritage inevitably leads to diversity of thought processes. Conclusions still have to meet the litmus test of constitutionality so there is no reason for surprise when her decisions were similar to that of Caucasian Male Judges.
The only reason Brooks doesn’t have to identify himself as a Caucasian American Man is because the ruling class never has to use any adjectives. Their characteristics are merely a default classification. It doesn’t mean the title David Brooks, Caucasian Male is any different from Sonia Sotomayor, Latina. David is privileged in that no overt reference is needed; not that it is absent.
Welcome Justice Sotomayor, despite the tepid nature of certain ‘yes’ votes.