Shadowproof

The F Word: The Kind of Bias Jeff Sessions Likes

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?

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