more on sotomayor

29May09

Let’s move on from the chitchat about her diabetes and on to something more infuriating: the idea that she’s unqualified. Certain conservatives have been going on and on lately about how she’s not qualified. Here’s what kills me: for better or for worse, Yale, Princeton, and Harvard have been the benchmarks of excellent education (and therefore qualifications) for centuries in American life. It used to be that if you went to any of those three schools, just the name alone conferred an aura of “qualified” onto you. Frankly, it still does. But Judge Sotomayor didn’t just go to Princeton and Yale. She went and excelled or, as I like to say, she “whupped up” on everybody there. At Princeton, she graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa as well as winning the highest undergraduate honor. At Yale, she was editor of the law review. And yet somehow these markers that have long been good enough to mark white men as qualified now mean nothing because she’s a woman of color.

Like my mother always said, when you’re a minority, being on par with everybody else isn’t good enough. You must do better than everybody else around, so as to leave no doubt about your qualifications. But apparently even that’s not good enough.

There’s a convenient double-standard here where when a white man (or even woman) does decently at one of these three Ivies, they’re qualified; but when a woman of color does better than all of her peers, she’s intellectually suspect. So here’s what I propose: either going to an Ivy means something or it means nothing. If she’s not intellectually up to snuff, then getting an education from these institutions means nothing. If an education from any of these three institutions is the mark of excellence for white men (regardless of their actual performance), then let’s give her her due: acknowledge that, in two different settings, this woman demonstrated her intellectual rigor to the satisfaction of our basic standards of judgements (Latin honors, university prizes, Phi Beta Kappa, law review) and let’s move on to the more substantive debate about her actual judicial decisions.

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One Response to “more on sotomayor”

  1. 1 whitheramp

    also, i love how the republicans (esp limbaugh and gingrich) are so eager to oppose “racism” when the subject being “racist” is a minority — where was all their anti-racist conviction when Barack the Magic Negro was floating about, or, frankly, at nearly any other moment in American history????


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