Saturday, July 18, 2009

Also In the News

Beyond mainstream media are some wonderful, insightful writers and thinkers. Roberto Rodriguez is among my favorites. This article of his from this week's news is an example of the ethnic viewpoint that doesn't get much air. Roberto's commentaries appear twice a month in the New American Media: Expanding the News Lens Through Ethnic Media.
Also under "Links of Interest" to the right of this page, his articles along with his wife's, Patrisia Gonzales are archived under "The Column of the Americas." Very good writers with vision. I respect them both highly.


Wake Up GOP: Sotomayor is This Generation's Jackie Robinson

Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez
Jul 15, 2009

Nine years into the new millennium and conservatives and Republicans -- with straight faces – insist that it is they who should define the nation’s racial debate and that it is their views that are fair and objective and part of the U.S. mainstream. Nowhere is this fallacy more evident than in their incomprehensible opposition to Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In their upside-down world, extreme conservatives, including the entire right-wing talk show universe, have gone from defending racial supremacy (by opposing integration and the precepts of “equality and justice for all”) to appropriating the right to define the very words and terms of this debate. Interestingly, Senate Republicans, who espouse virtually the same views as those of their influential talk show brethren, minus the most incendiary language, have failed to denounce their hate and ultra-nationalist demagoguery.

For instance, Sen. Jeff Sessions’ questioning of Sotomayor regarding her supposed biases, and the Republican demand that she be neutral, is mind-boggling. Lest we forget (aside from his own documented extreme racial views), it is “objectivity” that permitted the U.S. Supreme Court for nearly 200 years to uphold legal segregation and discrimination. Implicit in their arguments is that the decisions by white male Supreme Court justices have always been fair and infallible, while the continued attempts to right the nation’s wrongs – by activists or judges – constitute bias and even racism.

In addition to a history refresher course, many of these Republicans and conservatives are in need of an English dictionary. They also need to pay a visit to the Southern Poverty Law Center’s website to learn who the racists are and what kinds of supremacist ideologies they espouse and carry out.

None of those that have denounced Sotomayor as a “racist,” such as Newt Gingrich, are in line to win a Nobel Peace Prize for their work on race relations any time soon. And yet, more incredible is that the mainstream media continually turn to extremist talking heads for their opinions on the topic, virtually granting them an imprimatur of impartiality and fairness.

The Republican conservative effort to keep Sotomayor off the bench seems like a bizarre murder-suicide plot. Regardless of the obstacles put in her way, she will be the next Supreme Court justice. If there is to be any casualty, it will be the GOP, not she. She is a twice-Senate-confirmed moderate judge with 17 years of judicial experience, not the flaming radical they project her to be. She is boricua or Puerto Rican, part of a demographic (Latino/Latina) that is growing and has the potential to lean either Democratic or Republican.

What GOP leaders haven’t figured out is that, symbolically, Sotomayor represents this generation’s Jackie Robinson. If they had wanted to broaden their political tent, they could have celebrated her nomination, thereby projecting a welcoming party. Instead, they have questioned her impartiality and more important, her integrity. By opposing her these past two months with inflammatory rhetoric, they have poisoned relations with this expanding demographic group, ironically ensuring that the GOP will be remanded to the status of minority party for at least the next generation.

GOP leaders have the right to oppose her; the problem is that they have failed to do so respectfully. Many Republicans/conservatives have not simply defamed her, they have also unjustifiably denigrated both the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR) – respected civil rights organizations she has been associated with as a professional. In the case of the NCLR, the anti-immigrant ex-Colorado Rep. Tom Tancredo has likened it to the KKK. This is beyond intellectually dishonest.

This attempt by extreme conservatives to redefine the meaning of terms such as “racists” either reveals an Orwellian strategy to upend the meaning of words, or it reveals complete political illiteracy and/or lunacy. The consequence is that the GOP continues to send off the message that it is the party of the past, the party of greed, permanent war, hate, intolerance and racial supremacy. Also, because many conservatives equate 'illegal alien' with Mexican (or Latino) and view both as vermin and subhuman, the GOP already has a huge [recruitment] problem among these groups.

The failure of its leaders to disassociate from those extreme views means that this is the way the GOP will be perceived, long after Sotomayor dons her new Supreme Court robes.

Roberto Dr. Cintli Rodriguez, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona, writes for New America Media, including Arizona Watch. He can be reached at:


Dedalus1947 said...

Thanks for the article by Roberto Rodriguez, it made for interesting reading. Unfortunately, he was preaching to the choir as far as I was concerned. I agreed with everything he said, but so what? I can't imagine many "Conservative Republicans" reading his article or being moved to reconsider their positions or approaches.

I think that too many people and ideologues approach "other people" from a stereotypic perspective: Do these strangers react to the same trigger words or issues that provoke me; and are their opinions the same as mine? How sad and limiting. I was very disheartened by the questions and attitudes of the Senators. I kept thinking, "They must not come from BIG families". In my Mexican-American family, and in my wife's Irish-Catholic American family there are such wide differences in our political ideologies, that one would expect to find us constantly angry, frustrated, and incommunicative with each other. The truth is, we hug, laugh, argue, and talk all the time. We look forward to getting together, and accept differences of opinions. We seek commonalities in what is really important: our children, fairness, compassion, and forgiveness. We also talk about sports and movies. I never got the impression that the Senators on the Judicial committee were looking for clarity or common ground.

Oh well, I'll keep hoping; and I'm still naive enough to believe that this administration offers some.

Thanks for the link.

el poquito said...

Hey there Dedalus,
I like how you describe your and your wife's families and how the differences only add more to the flavor. These are skills that are developed [or not] in our families and homes first, aren't they? How to argue, disagree, state yourself without bullying, how to hold your ground, have boundaries, and yes, continue in the loving of one another.

You're very lucky to have had that - and you can see how having learned those skills from probably a very young age is at the core of who you are.

Many are not so lucky. Obviously many of the senators [along with a lot of others] missed out on lessons of just basic respect.

Roberto Rodriquez is someone I've learned a lot from on a variety of subjects. Respect is one. Glad you like the link. You might want to check out Column of the Americas under Links on the right hand side of the page. His wife Patrisia Gonzales is an excellent writer also of a different flavor. She writes a lot about healing, particularly from the indigenous/traditional point of view. Together they're a dynamite team. Lots of intelligent work on migration history, putting that whole conversation into a much larger context.

Thanks for coming by.

gert said...

hope, the aftermath of prayer. i remember when ttla arrived in port huron.(grade 2) she told me this stunning fact. "There's black kids at this school, mom!" the reality was that she had attend multi-racial schools,since she was 3, and no one ever told her that there was any difference between the kids. unfreaking believable how we choose to paint the world's shade and colors. gert

el poquito said...

Couple of things come to mind. First, differences in various parts of the country both population-wise and the conversations that take place [or not] about those differences. Also at around 7 yrs kids are naturally starting to have more awareness of the world around them being larger than just the world they've seen thus far at home and in their local community.

But then in some families like ours where our children were born into the marriage of two very different cultures, ethnicities and religious backgrounds, our kids had to become fluent in bridging two very different peoples from the start. They HAD to know there were differences; respect the differences; one not superior to another. I personally think these kids who are multi-racial are the bridgemakers. [Obama is one.] They can't afford to be blind to race. Instead, they teach us the respect necessary that begins with recognition.

Yep, if the world could be run by the 7,8 & 9 yr olds it would be mighty just. They see the inequities and are still naive enough to believe in their abilities to do something about it - a naivete and faith the grown-ups could use, especially since we're the ones responsible to pass this place on to them next so they can have their crack at it.

Some other youth perspectives on race relations in america in 2009:

YO! is a collection of short pieces by the writers at Youth Outlook!

a news website founded by Farai Chideya another favorite writer/journalist

Worth checking out. Many folks would like to believe that with the election of our first african-american president that race is no longer an issue in the US. Most youth of color would probably disagree, knowing we have many hard miles and difficult conversations yet to go. Look at any high school cafeteria to answer whether race is no longer an issue.

Related book: "Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?" by Beverly Daniel Tatum.

This is all very much a part of the world they inherit. And lucky them! I believe they will take this conversation on race further than any previous generation, dragging many of the oldsters along unwillingly.

And we move forward....