I said it in June, I’ll say it again.

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor is up for confirmation and some jackasses are still – still — saying she has to explain her “wise Latina" comment?

Altogether now – what did Sotomayor say?

"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." 

And what was she talking about? Trigonometry? The price of milk?

Nope. Although no reporter to speak of sees fit to mention it, the topic under discussion was race and gender discrimination. Talking about judging such cases, Sotomayor argued that the experience of facing discrimination might lead to a better decision about discrimination.

As I said in June, maybe it’s different on the moon–but here in the real lived USA–for centuries, white males have been the norm and all “others” have had a different experience. A different experience – not of snow or math or what the constitution says – but of discrimination.

At the time I was finding it hard to believe that in a season that saw the killing of an off duty police officer by an another police officer in New York, in part because the victim was black, and the assassination of a doctor in Wichita because he helped women, it’s hard to believe that anyone in their right mind would disagree with Sotomayor that difference exists in the United States – and to have experienced discrimination might make one smarter about it. 

But this week – this week – we are faced with the spectacle of a former Klan sympathizer complaining that Sotomayor might have a bias problem. To hear Jeff Sessions, who once called the NAACP un-American and communist inspired because they “forced civil rights down the throats of people”; a man who was once heard to say he admired the Ku Klux Klan; and a man who resolutely votes against immigrants’ rights; well, this week, the spectacle of Sessions worrying about bias leaves one almost speechless.

But not quite. As Judge Sotomayor pointed out in that same wise Latina speech: "Let us not forget that until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case."

Was that evidence of absence of bias? Or is that simply the kind of bias Sessions and his fellows like?

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders

Laura Flanders, author, and host of RadioNation on Air America Radio, has built a reputation for courageous investigative journalism coupled with compassion and a sense of humor. In writing her last book, Blue Grit, she traveled the country reporting on grassroots success stories and broadcast live to over 150 radio stations from community centers in places including Helena, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, Miami, Las Vegas, and Milwaukee. In her television appearances (Lou Dobbs, Larry King Live,) on radio and in her many books (including Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species) and articles (The Nation and others,) Flanders calls for a new politics of fairness, equality and citizen action. Articulating the human dimension of American communities in trouble, her programs have become destinations for those seeking the skills and the will to make a difference. Flanders is a regular contributor to the Nation Magazine and CNN. Before joining Air America, where she was part of the original lineup, and hosted “The Laura Flanders Show” for three years, Flanders was the founding host of the award-winning “Your Call” weekday mornings on public radio, KALW in the Bay Area and CounterSpin, the radio show of the mediawatch group, FAIR.

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