If you ever look at the National Review or Townhall or the Weekly Standard or other rightwing and neoconservative sites, you’ll quite possibly have run into this fellow. Matt Yglesias has a revealing post on him today which I’m going to add in toto…
Race Obsessed Victor Davis Hanson Attacks Sotomayor For Delivering Single Speech on Hispanic Issues
Victor Davis Hanson argues that Sonia Sotomayor is “race obsessed”:
In her now much quoted 2001 UC Berkeley speech she invoked “Latina/Latino” no less than 38 times, in addition to a variety of other racial-identifying synonyms. When one reads the speech over, the obsession with race become almost overwhelming, and I think the public has legitimate worries (more than the Obama threshold of 5% of cases) over whether a judge so cognizant of race could be race-blind in her decision making.
Jason Zengerle observes that the speech probably used the terms in question a lot because she was attending a symposium on “”=Raising the Bar: Latino and Latina Presence in the Judiciary and the Struggle for Representation.”
In the real world, the only “race obsessed” people in this debate are the Victor Davis Hanson’s of the world who’ve consistently refused to see the Sotomayor nomination through anything other than the lens of her ethnicity. Zengerle alludes to the fact that nobody on the right seems to be upset about Justice Alito’s speech “Reflections on growing up as an Italian-American in New Jersey”. It’s just a broad fact of American life that the majority of people define themselves, in part, as members of an ethnic community of some sort (those who don’t appear to be predominantly of Scotch-Irish ancestry). The fact that Sotomayor has referenced this on some occasions is not an “obsession.” What would be truly bizarre would be a Latina judge who for some reason went around refusing to ever speak on this topic.
Meanwhile, in the Sotomayor debate it’s the opposition who are unequivocally presenting themselves as the defenders of racial (white) interests and the voices of racial (white) grievance. Which makes sense. After all, whites are a numerical majority in this country, so it stands to reason that white identity politics is and always has been a more viable political strategy than black or Latino identity politics. But we should all be clear on who’s doing what here.
And ’twas ever thus. Here’s Victory Davis Hanson’s National Review on the Civil Rights Act of 1957:
The central question that emerges–and it is not a parliamentary question or a question that is answered by meerely consulting a catalog of the rights of American citizens, born Equal–is whether the White community in the South is entitled to take such measures as are necessary to prevail, politically and culturally, in areas in which it does not predominate numerically? The sobering answer is Yes–the White community is so entitled because, for the time being, it is the advanced ace. It is not easy, and it is unpleasant, to adduce statistics evidencing the median cultural superiority of White over Negro: but it is fact that obtrudes, one that cannot be hidden by ever-so-busy egalitarians and anthropologists. The question, as far as the White community is concerned, is whether the claims of civilization supersede those of universal suffrage. The British believe they do, and acted accordingly, in Kenya, where the choice was dramatically one between civilization and barbarism, and elsewhere; the South, where the conflict is by no means dramatic, as in Kenya, nevertheless perceives important qualitative differences between its culture and the Negroes’, and intends to assert its own.
Same as it ever ways.