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The Content of Her Character

MLK set the standard for Sotomayor. Old time rock'n'roll. Readers grill Sonia. Plus more.

6.3.09

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COLOR BLIND
Re: Jeffrey Lord's Answering Peggy Noonan: Why Sotomayor Should Withdraw:

Wow! What a powerful piece by Jeffrey Lord. It brought back several memories of my own childhood in segregated Virginia, most notably the bomb threats against the integrated private grade school I attended, at least one actual bomb attack on a residence of a black family interloping in a white neighborhood, and the discovery that my black classmates lived on dirt roads well inside the limits of what was then Virginia's largest city. During my freshman year of college in 1967, a fellow student always walked under an umbrella on sunny days because he was convinced that skin pigmentation was inversely related to intelligence. I wish that story were fiction, but it is not.

Mr. Lord is exactly correct. The thought processes that allowed these events and attitudes to develop are not restricted to any ethnic group and need to be defeated whenever they rear up, even if the proponents belong to special protected political classes. As a wise man recently said: "Freedom is for everybody."
-- Jerry Magri

Great work by Mr. Lord. It was one of those really long pieces that as you read it one hopes it would never end. Mr. Lord keeps on coming up with fresh insights on every page and paragraph with his personal memories and observations. I doubt it, but perhaps it will help poor Noonan to find her way, which she lost sometime ago. I continue to read her column in the WSJ praying that she will return to form but I'm losing that hope week by week. Her unrelenting attacks on Sarah Palin were almost too much. It seems her attachment to the Ivy league academic elite trumps most of her conservative instincts. But enough of the negative comments. I applaud Mr. Lord and his family for their efforts against racism when it would have been much easier, I'm sure, just to go along to get along. As a child of parents who came to Michigan from Tennessee in 1940 to find work I was spared the grinding poverty and race attitudes of that era and place. I was recently gratified when my son told me that he grew up with no prejudice either for or against any group strictly on the basis of what group or race people were. I certainly give my dear late wife a lot, if not most of, the credit for that, since she was a devout Christian in every sense of the word. I must confess I would much prefer Dr. Thomas Sowell as Chief Executive of our great nation to the current know-nothing, half-educated, full-of-self-esteem-for-no-good-reason person who currently occupies that position. Of course I would also prefer Dr. Sowell over McCain, and, come to think about it, over anyone else.
-- Jack Wheatley
Royal Oak, Michigan

In Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech, he said, and I'm paraphrasing, "I have a dream that one day my children will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." To me that means, race should not be part of the public discussion. Whether someone is white, black, brown, or Asian doesn't matter. What do they think and believe? What are their values?

I believe that now is the time for conservatives to stand up for this fact. People are people no matter their color or ethnic origin. Liberals have gotten away far too long using the race card both ways. 

In Acts 10 verses 9 through 16, the Lord tells Peter through a vision that He wants the Gospel taught to all people, not just the Jews. All people are equal in the eyes of God; we then should view all people as equal and treat them as such.
-- Randall Allison
Abilene, Texas

The congressional Republican leadership seems most unwilling to fight over the nomination of Sotomayor. The question arises: just what will they fight for? And is any of that something the Republican base would approve of?
-- Robert Nowall
Cape Coral, Florida

Mr. Lord's article is one of the most salient responses to those who believe The Right must stoop to conquer. His article is rich in personal history and responsibility without ever being shrill or dishonorable. With deliberate and clear logic he deflates Sotomayor's ideology but avoids attacking the woman herself. Mr. Lord is tactful as well as tactical in his response. He leaves no question that Judge Sotomayor's legal perspective is based upon racist vision, but he is equally clear that he hold no personal animus against her. His rebuke of her judicial activism is based on history and precedent. Both are fertile ground for the Republican and Blue Dog senators to plant their objections: racism is anathema to all that is held sacred in our courts.

Now is the time to be guided by our better angels. Now is the time to put down our cudgels. Now is the time to rebuke racism no matter what form it takes or its messenger. Now is the time to let the voice of reason be heard.

Let us raise our voices with conviction, reason and truth. Win or lose, let us fight with honor.
-- I.M. Kessel

Never has a political article made my eyes tear up, but this one did. I was moved by Jeffrey Lord's description of his father's actions, his sturdy moral compass and ability to do the right thing in very difficult circumstances. Are there folks like him now? Mr. Lord, thank you for your thoughtful article on the nomination of Judge Sotomayor and the intersection of racism, history, and the Democratic Party -- a lot to ponder. I am grateful for your perspective and capable analysis.
-- Kristi Heft

VENAL PRESCRIPTION
Re: Jerome Arnett, Jr., M.D., & Gregory Conko's FDA's Bad Medicine:

A major problem with modern government is how our elected officials (and non-elected bureaucrats) truly, deeply (madly) believe they are smarter than the rest of the world. (How did those old white wigged men who knew so little and died so young ever know about government?!? Sure, they wrote The Constitution, but we, the living, know what it means.) At least the elected were smart enough to get elected. What evidence of intelligence can be offered for our bureaucrats?  Doctors spend years of painstaking study, internship and practice before they are allowed to earn their living as physicians. Even then, the best doctors understand that they know just a jot and tittle about the human body and condition. Yet, despite, lacking notable expertise and knowledge of medicine, the government (specifically Representative Waxman) plans to outlaw the practice of off label prescriptions. The question is why?

The answer is simple: follow the money.
-- I.M. Kessel

THE BARD DISAPPROVES
Re: James Bowman's Star Trek:

The very point of science fiction should be speculative futures abounding in novel, incredible ideas. In this regard the latest Star Trek flick disappoints. Shakespeare's review would be, "poor players that strut and fret their hour upon the stage and then are heard no more; [Star Trek is] a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
-- David Govett
Davis, California

WHEN I'M 64
Re: Ben Stein's He Was My Disc Jockey:

I'm reading a few comments today that elude to "The Day The Music Died." Well, all those musings are certainly valid in their context, unless you're about 30 years old and grew up rap dancing to L.L. Cool J, Run DMC or any others from the recent gangsta' groups who didn't bow to the perceived... boogie of the day. Oh, and just so you'll know...the last time I sucked in oxygen while being "20 something" was back when Elvis was still makin' movies about Clam Bakes, hot rods in Vegas and wearing those Kid Galahad boxing trunks. Nope, these days, I'm just a creaky ol' observer viewing another passing parade from the cheap seats while parked in row 64. And as much as I loved the music from "Just Before The Music Died" ... this kid sitting next to me with an iPod plugged in his ear is probably 3 or 4 decades away from lamenting "The Day P Diddy Took A Dirt Nap."

Out of touch? Maybe. But before judging, you might want to check with the old dude sitting next to you who might have a pretty cool stash of Glenn Miller 78's packed away in his hall closet.

In the end, the sounds are all in the heart of the beholder. Which is located (I think) just above...the ear lobe.
-- Dave
Elk Grove, California

BATTLE OF THE SEXES
Re: Jane Fuller's letter (under "What if Andrew Cline Weren't White?") in Reader Mail's All About Sonia:

The recent tirade by Ms. Fuller really does require a response. First, according to my civic classes, we are supposed to be represented by the legislative branch -- not by the judicial branch. Consequently, the number of women on the Supreme Court is irrelevant.

Secondly, I believe I read someplace that Sonia Sotomayor has an Ivy League education and has served on the federal bench for some years. Wow. No telling what she could have accomplished without all that institutional discrimination against women you claim is so pervasive. Finally, I never knew the number of stalls in women's bathrooms is the resultof discrimination. Should we rectify this situation by increasing the number of stalls in women's bathrooms or by reducing the number of urinals in men's bathrooms?
-- Garry Greenwood
Gearhart, Oregon

DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR
Re: Reader Letters under "Now Go Get Her" in Reader Mail's All About Sonia:

Confucius taught "One cannot walk in the mist without becoming moist." This is more plainly stated in "Choose your enemies well because you will come to resemble them in time," (author unattributed).  The Left has a long record of disparaging the character of judicial nominees, with the apogee (or nadir?) of the virtual lynching of (then) Judge Clarence Thomas. The character assignation was without precedent and without honor. Now many fine TAS letter writers are calling for the same from The Right. This is not the way to fight the war. As can be found tattooed to many a fine soldier, sailor, airman or (especially) marine, "Death before dishonor." While we are compelled by reason and moral bearing to oppose Judge Sotomayer and all activist nominations, but we cannot conduct ourselves as The Left does and still be who we are.
-- I.M. Kessel


A DOUBLE STANDARD IS BETTER THAN NO PRINCIPLES
Re: Ronald Schoenberg's letter (under "Stop Lording It Over Us") in Reader Mail's All About Sonia:

Ronald Schoenberg rediscovers the infamous "Conservative double-standard." In his letter, he pairs the comments by Judge Sotomayor's and Justice Alito's supposedly common empathy in cases involving discrimination due to their personal backgrounds (Sotomayor being Hispanic and Alito Italian). Stating that Judge Sotomayor's and Justice Alito's statements were actually of the same ilk, Schoenberg proclaims from the rooftops that "Oh wait, I forgot, the conservative double standard means that it's ok when a conservative says it."  

As my high school history teacher would say: "compare and contrast!" More to the point, as my English teacher would say: "context, context, and context."  

While Obama gave lip service to faithfully interpreting the Constitution while introducing Sotomayor, he also praised her "empathy" as a factor in deciding rightly. To conservatives, this last statement raises a number of red flags. It provides a hole big enough for "results-oriented," creative decisions that take rather innovative insights so far undiscovered by two hundred years' justices and legal scholars. In other words, if the Constitution had something called a "Spirit," that ghost will time to time rise above the sterile, dead letters of a document written in another, dissimilar age and set us straight. Of, course, we are told Sotomayor is just that necromancer for the job. It may be claimed that Sotomayor believes no such thing; but she does not help herself when she said that a Hispanic women would reach better decisions that a white male.  

Alito was facing a different audience with the actual challengers. As a suspected conservative, Alito faced the prejudice that he would always find in favor of the rich and powerful under the guise of an unwarranted literal reading of Constitutional law. Being a "powerful white man" (as if every Caucasian male is born with a silver spoon in his mouth), doubts were cast that he was out of touch with the life of the much-abused working man. Alito had to remind his questioners that he was nothing like the man they imagined. America didn't exactly warmly welcome his family when they arrived on these shores. At the very least, each Italian immigrant and his children faced an America of under-employment or unemployment along with thinly disguised hatred because they were "Southern European" and Catholic. He had family memory of what it is like when so much is set against you. In the byzantine wordplay of congressional conformational meetings, Alito was stating that the law was not just for White Anglo-Saxon Protestants.

The contrast is that one would use the richness of his cultural experience to ensure that there would be the rule of law and not men. The other would use the richness of her cultural experience and personal empathy to arrive at a "compassionate" decision. Such "compassionate" ruling may need the discrimination of one people against another in the name of a ghost hovering above the Constitution in order to achieve a nebulous justice. The impact of these two views is plain. One a faithful interpretation from the Constitution upholding the rule of law. Such a ruling would be predictable and would be the same generation to generation -- subject to change by the will of the people expressed through concrete legislation and valid constitutional adoption. The second would escape the bonds of the Constitution and the legislative process to arrive at economic and social justice. It is by nature unpredictable. An ethnic group presently protected and promoted at the expense of others will someday find themselves once again discriminated against as new ethnic group rises to the top of the State's benevolent favor. This prospect may be greeted with disbelief that "we" would ever do such a thing; but the problem is there would be no principle against it.
-- Mike Dooley

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