Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quote of the Week: Justice Sonia Sotamayor”

Here is Chris Marchener’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Ethics Quote of the Week: Justice Sonia Sotamayor”: and the ongoing debate it has sparked here:

I am not a lawyer. do not play one on TV, nor did I spend the night in a Holiday Inn Express last night. BUT, my understanding of the decision was that the SCOTUS would not overrule the will of the electorate, who, after reasoned debate on the issue, voted to amend its state constitution to state unequivocally that no person shall be granted a preference based on some genetic characteristic, belief, religion, etc. Isn’t that what we are striving toward? They did not strike down nor address the merits of affirmative action.

I get Jack’s point that Justice Sotamayor’s dissent was not based on Constitutional law and was reflecting her own biases regarding race and gender.

Outside of this decision, there is no doubt that some people in this country have a cultural aversion to people of other races, nationalities, genders, lifestyles, Such aversions apply equally to all genders, races, nationalities etc. on a global scale. In the US. such personal aversions must not be a criterion for employment decisions, educational, or other economic opportunities.

To Mr. Green’s assertion, “You mean racists are the ones who talk about racism? How is that not like blaming the victim? This is a pernicious, evil lie – that the victims of racism are in fact the cause of racism because they have this nasty habit of pointing out the unpleasant fact of racism’s existence” : The evil lie is that racism and gender discrimination remains an institution perpetrated by white males such that all benefits inure to them within the economy of the US. Therefore, such institutional racism must continue to be addressed through the very means that created unequal opportunities in the first place. I have stated in earlier posts that any group that demands perpetual preferential treatment by virtue of race, ethnicity, gender or some other factor is guilty of the same institutional bias that we seek to overcome.

In Justice Sotamayor’s words  “Race also matters because of persistent racial inequality in society…” What does this mean? Does it mean that every race be identical in population size? Does it mean that income distribution within the racial sub-segment reflect the income distribution in the majority demographic? Or, does it mean that everyone has an equal chance based on persistence, education and intellect?

This is same Justice that said, “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,”

Blatant racism if we switched the nouns, And why just white men?

Later she said, “Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences,” she said, for jurists who are women and non white, “our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.” To this I do not disagree. However, the difference does not mean that better decisions will be made just different decisions. If we accept the premise that physiological or cultural differences are acceptable biases in judicial rulings then no culture, race, or national origin is inherently racist. She cannot say that white European physiology or culture is inferior for is she does then the logical conclusion is that all others are cultures and genders are superior to the white European culture which is a racist statement.

She continues, “And race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, and that cannot be wished away. Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up.”

To that I say, Why can’t they be discussed in any other way? I cannot wish away what others think, I can only think for myself. Why do you feel the need to tell me how I think and feel? Why does the young man sense the tension of others when he walks by? Are the passerby’s truly in a state of tension or has such hypersensitivity been planted within him through the rhetoric of those “leaders” who amass great wealth and power rationalizing every perceived slight as evidence of racism. We need to tell children that they can be anything they want provided they work hard in school and apply themselves. If we continually tell them the majority is against them and they have no chance without government protections then they will simply fail to strive for greatness, reinforcing within them the sense that majority society is against them. This is exactly what the self-described champions of racially equality seem to want. If it is not then I challenge them to try alternative tactics to get my support.

However, because there has been past injustice and we feel that we must compensate those affected by such injustice, we must ask who should pay the price for past injustice and for how long. Is evidence of economic disparity the only means to determine evidence of racism; I think not. It takes individual effort and if that effort is not forthcoming then failure to achieve is not evidence of racism. For those that advocate for affirmative action, should only the sons of whites who had the misfortune of being born into lower and middle-income American families bear the burden of reparations? I don’t think that the sons of well-connected whites suffer from being denied employment in favor of a greater, equally, or lesser qualified women or minority candidate as a result of ensuring affirmative action plan goals. Nor do I think that the daughters of many well to do citizens have ever faced any form of discrimination in their lives.

4 thoughts on “Comment of the Day: “Ethics Quote of the Week: Justice Sonia Sotamayor”

  1. “Blatant racism if we switched the nouns, And why just white men?”

    Excellent point. Excellent comment overall. Institutional racism is not going to be cured by instituting one of the forms of discrimination that is a signature characteristic of that racism.

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