Dr. King and Rush versus moderates on race: Cornyn, Steele fear the elephant in the room on Sotomayor nomination.
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Dr. King also learned along the way that the “great stumbling block” to creating a colorblind America always seemed to be someone who was constantly saying, “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action.”
This mantra, of course, is exactly the thought behind the moderates who have laced into Rush Limbaugh (and Newt Gingrich) in recent days. In fact, the similarity between the sentiments of Dr. King and Rush Limbaugh when it comes to moderates is striking. Here they are, side-by-side:
Here’s Dr. King: “I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate…who constantly says: “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action.”
And here’s Rush: “There’s truly something not right about people who claim to be standing with us on our side, who find it impossible to be critical of people who deserve to be called on their actions and their words. There is something self-destructive, perhaps self-loathing about some of them.”
Identity politics — appearing in the form of segregation in 1963 — is the politics that forced Dr. King into that Birmingham jail in the first place. And segregation, in turn, was alive and well in 1963 because of Supreme Court decisions (Civil Rights Cases in 1883 and Plessy v. Feguson in 1896 ) that specifically gave a thumbs up to racism by overturning the Civil Rights Act of 1875 and denying the plain intent of the 14th Amendment, not to mention giving short shrift to the 13th and 15th amendments that ended slavery and gave voting rights to blacks. It is, as a growing body of evidence makes clear, exactly the politics that is at the core of Sonia Sotomayor’s beliefs about just about everything. It is the politics-made-law that led this country to disaster and that President Obama wishes to restore to the Supreme Court
THE WASHINGTON POST in a recent story said Sotomayor attributed her year-long delay in being confirmed as a Clinton nominee to the Second Court of Appeals to “Republican ethnic stereotypes of her.” Yet the real reason for the delay had nothing to do with ethnic stereotyping. Excessive delays of judicial confirmation hearings was a tactic invented by (according to his own later admission) Senator Ted Kennedy during the Bork nomination to the Supreme Court. The delay went from a routine 14 days after a nomination to 77 days and got worse, much worse, after that. It had nothing to do with race, and has been used as a tactic by both sides ever since. If Sotomayor has a complaint on this — or on the trial by fire she is about to undergo — she has Senator Kennedy and Vice President Biden (who helped his friend Teddy delay the Bork hearings) to thank for it. But instead of checking her facts, she played the race card. Instinctively, it seems, which is exactly the problem with her nomination.
Over the weekend the New York Times revealed that in her now famous handling of the New Haven firefighters case the Judge had what the Times described as an “unusually charged” discussion with the firefighter’s attorney — a woman, it should be said. Said the Times of Sotomayor’s actions on a racial case that the paper said was “bristling” with important implications: “The appeals court’s cursory treatment suggested that the case was routine and unworthy of careful scrutiny. Yet the case turned out to be important enough to warrant review by the Supreme Court, which heard arguments in April and is likely to issue a decision this month.”
When the firefighters’ attorney protested that it was not a good idea to be hiring unqualified firefighters when even qualified firefighters “die every week,” an irritated Sotomayor snapped: “Counsel, we’re not suggesting that unqualified people be hired. The city’s not suggesting that. All right?” Yet that was precisely the result Sotomayor was trying to suggest — and in fact tried to force through her decision. Not for her Dr. King’s belief that one should be “judged by the content of their character” or, in this case, impartial test results. The “wise Latina” was injecting her racial beliefs into a deeply serious legal issue, ruling against white firefighters in favor of what she likes to call “people of color.” The ultimate well-being of some poor New Haven soul in need of emergency help from a qualified firefighter be damned.
Sotomayor, as gathered from her own words and actions, is wedded to bringing her racial identity politics to her job — in this case the US Supreme Court. In precisely putting his finger on this issue, in bluntly calling her use of racial politics for what they are, Rush Limbaugh — just as was true with Dr. King - is being scolded by so-called “moderates” for explicitly speaking the truth.
Dr. King defended his actions by saying of Birmingham’s obsession with race that he had “brought it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with.” Likewise, Limbaugh has opened up the philosophy behind Sotomayor’s beliefs as repeatedly expressed in her speeches, her complaint about the judicial confirmation process, and her ruling in the New Haven firemen’s case. He has, just as Dr. King advocated, exposed racism or what King called the “ugliness” and a “boil” to, in King’s phrase, “the air of national opinion” — which is to say the 20 million Americans a week who listen to The Rush Limbaugh Show.
And just as with Dr. King, sure enough the moderates flocked to take Rush to task.
Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas and Republican National Chairman Michael Steele have mimicked the same instinctive flinching reaction as those moderate ministers of 1963. As King said of the moderates of his day, these present-day Republican leaders (and other moderates) are petrified of what King called “tension,” preferring a “negative peace” to a “positive justice.” In saying these things the moderate Senator and moderate party chairman view Limbaugh exactly as the moderate ministers viewed Dr. King.
They see Rush as an “outside agitator” (as King was called) with no standing, while Republican Senators are cast in the role of the reasonable “local Negro leadership” — which is to say, presumably more reasonable because they are more susceptible to pressure. For the local Negro leadership of Birmingham, this meant, first, the physical safety of their families’ lives, followed by jobs and economic security. For Republican Senators, this means winning an election.
Cornyn, Steele, and some others have surrendered instantly to the terms of the debate as insisted upon by the left — when in fact they should be challenging them. This is not a debate about putting a Hispanic on the Court, or Miguel Estrada would be sitting there now. The first Mexican-American Attorney General of the United States, George W. Bush appointee Alberto Gonzales, would have served out his term as a colorblind AG instead of being railroaded by a white Democrat Senator from Vermont — who not so coincidentally thinks this Hispanic is just dandy. No, this fight is about liberalism — extreme left-wingism — using race to get on the Court (or in Estrada’s case to keep someone off the Court.) Once there the idea is then to run the Court using the politics of race, and at the next available opening add another Justice — and another and another — who identifies with racial politics. This is a place both the Court and the country have already been — to the detriment of both. One need only mention court cases such as Dred Scott or Plessy v. Ferguson to know how badly all of this will end. This is the merger of left-wing politics with a long and sordid history of a party soaked in racial politics. Were this nomination a Hollywood script it would be pitched as Birth of a Nation meets the Weather Underground.
TO READ THE COMPLAINT of the moderates that provoked King to write his Letter is to hear the handwringing tone moderates have used against Limbaugh or Gingrich. In a tone worthy of Cornyn, Steele, Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan or even the estimable Wendy Long over at NRO (who lamented that “Somehow, this important debate is turning into an argument about race and identity politics”), the moderate ministers claimed that King’s focus on the racism of Birmingham had not “contributed to the resolution” of the issue. They saw King as “extreme.” While the ministers saw themselves proceeding in a “calm manner” they believed that it was necessary for King and his supporters to “show restraint” in dealing with the issue of racism, something they believed King was not doing. The moderate ministers said it was time for the black community to “withdraw support” from Dr. King and show “common sense.”
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H/T to National Review Online