on politics and race
Shelby Steele, a very incisive and perceptive writer and researcher on race issues, has written a very important assessment of the Sotomayor nomination. Whatever your political ideology, I think you will find his in-depth assessment instructive.
Consider this comment:
Judge Sotomayor is the archetypal challenger. Challengers see the moral authority that comes from their group’s historic grievance as an entitlement to immediate parity with whites — whether or not their group has actually earned this parity through development. If their group is not yet competitive with whites, the moral authority that comes from their grievance should be allowed to compensate for what they lack in development. This creates a terrible corruption in which the group’s historic grievance is allowed to count as individual merit. And so a perverse incentive is created: Weakness and victimization are rewarded over development. Better to be a troublemaker than to pursue excellence.
Sonia Sotomayor is of the generation of minorities that came of age under the hegemony of this perverse incentive. For this generation, challenging and protesting were careerism itself. This is why middle- and upper middle-class minorities are often more militant than poor and working-class minorities. America’s institutions — universities, government agencies, the media and even corporations — reward their grievance. Minority intellectuals, especially, have been rewarded for theories that justify grievance.
His book titled, White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era is a very important book.
Consider also his assessment of the Ricci case in New Hampshire, in which she supported the city’s decision:
And here we come to Judge Sotomayor’s favorite such ingenuity: disparate impact. In the now celebrated Ricci case the city of New Haven, Conn., threw out a paper and pencil test that firefighters were required to take for promotion because so few minorities passed it. In other words, the test had a disparate and negative impact on minorities, so the lead plaintiff, Frank Ricci — a white male with dyslexia who worked 10 hours a day to pass the test at a high level — was effectively denied promotion because he was white. Judge Sotomayor supported the city’s decision to throw out the test undoubtedly because of her commitment to disparate impact — a concept that invariably makes whites accountable for minority mediocrity.
Challengers are essentially team players. Their deepest atavistic connection is to their aggrieved race, ethnicity or gender. Toward the larger society that now often elevates and privileges them, they carry a lingering bad faith — and sometimes a cavalier disregard where whites are concerned, as with Judge Sotomayor in the Ricci case.
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