Sunday, July 19, 2009

Sotomayor & Hate Here At Home

In the past few weeks I've heard some really ridiculous and bordering on insane comments made about Judge Sonia Sotomayor, the least of which being what the Washington Post front-paged today regarding the completely non-legal decision made by Sotomayor to observe fashion trends that ignored femininity for the workplace. A letter to the editor printed in today's Twin Falls Times-News takes the prize for the most paranoid and outrageous.

The Mini-Cassia/Magic Valley area has for some time been a haven of hatred aimed at the growing Hispanic community. It shouldn't come as a surprise that Obama's Hispanic nominee to the United States Supreme Court would fuel a fire that has been raging for far too long. However, even I, someone with a broad understanding of how deeply rooted the anti-Hispanic sentiment is in that community, was completely blown away by one Rick Martin's (not to be confused with a Grammy winning Latin music powerhouse) letter disqualifying Judge Sotomayor for an alleged association with the National Council of La Raza.

A snippet of the letter:
Meaning "The Race," La Raza is a revolutionary Mexican-American group seeking to cancel enforcement of immigration laws and grant amnesty to millions of illegal aliens. Even more, the organization backs the return to Mexico of what it labels Aztlan. The vast area targeted includes California, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico and portions of Colorado and Texas. La Raza's designs for our country are perhaps the most divisive and dangerous seen since our tragic War Between the States.

La Raza's president, Janet Murguia, jumped for joy over the choice of Sotomayor. She heaped high praise on President Obama for his selection. Will Arizona's John McCain approve the choice? How about the senators from the other states claimed by Aztlan? Won't a positive vote for Sotomayor indicate their approval of the demand that the people in six states, in four cases the entire states themselves, become part of Mexico?
Perhaps I am excessively sensitive to a few of the terms used in this letter including 'revolutionary' and 'Aztlan' having just finished reading David Neiwert's The Eliminationists and In God's Country, but I suspect I will not be the only reader that spent even ten minutes listening to Judge Sotomayor defend herself against attacks regarding her "wise Latina" speeches who takes this letter for what it is--a frighteningly shared hatred and fear manifest in beliefs about an "invasion" of this country by Mexico or Hispanics.

I know plenty of young people who live in the area in which this letter was printed, young people who are impressionable, that I worry about reading this sort of hatred and untruth. I have thought a great deal about the responsibility of the press and whether the editor of the Times-News or even my local paper the Idaho State Journal, and whether those editors have a responsibility to print every letter they receive regardless of the hatred they might be spreading throughout their respective communities. Specifically, I am reminded of a fellow by the name of Robert Mathews who wrote many a hate-filled drivel that the Sandpoint Daily Bee, led by Dave Neiwert, refused to print back in the days when Idaho was known for the Aryan Nations in Hayden Lake and the Ruby Ridge incident. For those of you who are familiar with Mr. Mathews or his mention in Neiwert's God's Country, it wasn't simply a matter of black helicopter paranoia, he was in fact guilty of much violent hatred. Do we simply just hope that Mr. Martin of Buhl, the Times-News letter-to-the-editor writer, is paranoid and anti-Hispanic and not driven by the type of hatred that led Mr. Mathews to violence? It's unfortunate that we have to take these types of chances. It's unfortunate that the cost of maintaining our freedom of speech is this sort of freedom given to those who use it to spread and fuel hatred and violence.

As for Judge Sotomayor, having listened to her responses to the borderline racist questions posed to her by Senators Graham (R-South Carolina), Coburn (R-Oklahoma), Kyl (R-Arizona), and Sessions (R-Alabama), I don't believe for a second that any of her decisions on the bench will be driven by her own ethnicity. Having gone into her confirmation hearings as someone skeptical of her nomination by Obama as both a woman and as an American who has not come around entirely to Obama's presidency, I am completely convinced that Sonia Sotomayor is immensely qualified to serve on our highest Court and that she will bring her vast array of experiences, not as a woman, Hispanic, or student impacted by affirmative action, but as a jurist that has served as a prosecutor, private lawyer, district attorney, and federal and appellate judge. She is, as has been said, one of the most qualified nominees to the Supreme Court in approximately a century.

I fear for my state, a state that harbors these paranoid, hateful, and often bordering on insane beliefs about minorities, liberals, and other groups targeted by an immense amount of xenophobia that exists here, but more than anything I fear for the younger generation of Idahoans that are growing up with these influences. It isn't just Zeb Bell, it's an entire belief system embedded in our backyards.


Anonymous said...

I, for one, think she has all the professional qualifications she needs, but I also am glad to have someone there that has the background and experience of a "Latina".

I'm probably the only one who doesn't think this is an impediment, but instead helps her to have compassion and an insight that the standard Protestant white male could never have. What is wrong with having a wealth of knowledge and experience from which to draw, when making decisions about the lives of the entire country?

It's not like she's going to throw out all her professional legal training...she's just going to have an enhancement to her view of the implications of decisions that are made, which I think is a good thing.


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