Saturday, June 06, 2009

Here's why that stupid newspaper makes me so angry

Above: doors which open on to the 21st century

In today's New York Times, or indeed, on the New York Times, supreme court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is placed in context alongside Justice Clarence Thomas and compared with him as a significant appointment of a minority.

And so:

"Both come from the humblest of beginnings. Both were members of the first sizable generation of minority students at elite colleges and then Yale Law School. Both benefited from affirmative action policies."


"But that is where their similarities end, and their disagreements begin."

And so, for another chronic, agonizing story, the Times forces upon us a sense of equanimity, even-handedness.

Ask yourself, considering what you know about Sonia Sotomayor, if you can relate to her. Do you know anyone who she reminds you of? Bronx-born? Latina? High achiever? Diabetic? Attorney, judge? Divorced woman? West Villager? Yankees fan? Immigrant kid? I reckon almost everyone in America can relate to some aspect of her story.

Now, ask what you know of Clarence Thomas. Yes.

Here's what I know, right off the top of my head: Thomas and the Anita Hill accusation; Thomas is so far to the right that when fellow conservative justice Anthony Scalia gives talks at high schools or colleges, he gets his first big laugh from his audiences by saying that when Thomas was appointed, Scalia instantly became a sort of dangerous liberal; Thomas likes driving his motorhome through redneck America (obviously blending in); he (almost) never speaks when the Supreme Court is in session; he's from a truly remote and dreadful part of Georgia, for which the words 'benighted' and 'abject' were coined.

But the Times wants readers to see Sotomayor and Thomas as a neat little compare-and-contrast. Alternative headline suggestion:
Man who May Indeed Have Raped a Former Colleague
Juxtaposed with Diabetic Supporter of Women's Rights
I actually wrote a lot more for this posting than I finally allowed to slither online. Here's what happened: as I continued berating the New York Times I wound up, guess where? at the well-known intersection of the 2000 U.S. Presidential election and September 11th. And there, I lose the power to express adequately and without resort to emotion, how deeply personal (emotion!) and profound — ummm... errr...


Look at her go!

He sat on for a moment. What is this terror? what is this ecstasy? he thought to himself. What is it that fills me with extraordinary excitement?

It is Clarissa, he said.

For there she was.

That is certainly not Clarissa Dalloway pictured above, and is in fact some sort of mystical Eastern floozie.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

It's à bientôt, but not adieu

We left Rhode Island yesterday after an all-too-brief weekend visit, with hopes of returning soon. Now back in the belly of the beast.

I took this photo from the front porch of the farmhouse where we stayed, yesterday morning. Inadvertently, it took on a sort of vintage palor...

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Which Supreme Court Nominee Said...?

Above, Sara Ramirez would play Sonia Sotomayor, and Anthony Scalia
would play Justice Danny Devito in a so-far totally imaginary movie
U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor is still being attacked by right-wingers, outraged that she dared mention her non-white, immigrant, feminist background as important qualities in who she is as judge and as a person.

They say this means she is likely to drag totally weird nonsense into her Supreme Court deliberations. She cannot be trusted! they are saying. She cannot be trusted to stick to the letter of the law, as enunciated by the Founding Fathers, with their frilly clothes, total lack of hygiene, their slave-owning, and unfamiliarity with the Internet, aeroplanes, cars, computers, sanitation, et al. She'll bring outside factors such as her race and womany-ness into the Supreme Court!

So it's interesting to note that square-as-lego Justice Samuel Alito, beloved of conservatives, said the following during his confirmation hearing in January 2006, making himself sound rather Sotomayor-ish:

And that’s why I went into that in my opening statement. Because when a case comes before me involving, let’s say, someone who is an immigrant — and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases — I can’t help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn’t that long ago when they were in that position.

When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account.

The slow, agonizing death of conservatism is a delicious sight to watch. Worth a glance is this imagined line-up of actors cast to play Sotomayor and the rest in Sonia: the Movie!