Look, it’s not racist to oppose a Latina judicial nominee, or to oppose affirmative action, or to point out genuine evidence of ethnic bias on the part of minorities. What we’re seeing here, though, is people clinging to the belief that Sotomayor has to be some mediocrity who struck the ethnic jackpot, that whatever benefit she got from affirmative action must be vastly more significant than her own qualities, that she’s got to be a harpy boiling with hatred for whitey, however overwhelming the evidence against all these propositions is. This is really profoundly ugly. Like Yglesias, I don’t think I’m especially sensitive to stuff like this, or particularly easily moved to anger, but I’m angry.Many conservatives argue, now that we have ended segregation, we also need to end affirmative action and strive for a race-neutral society. On this level playing field, the claim goes, qualified women and minorities will be able to successfully compete with white dudes. I think there is still a need for affirmative action, but I think the vast majority of conservatives make this argument in good faith.
But here's the thing: when an obviously superlative Latina is tapped for the nomination she still -- still! -- has to put up with crap like this. Comments about how she only advanced thanks to affirmative action, that she's unqualified, that she's not very bright -- always presented without a scrap of real evidence. I mean, how much more brilliant or qualified do you need to be to be judged on your merits?
This is the continuing power of racism in our society. And it's not just crazy folks on the internet -- this is coming from the grand poobahs of the Republican Party and movement conservatism. There is a lot that's fair game with Sotomayor: call her a liberal, call her a judicial activist, bash her rulings, whatever. But, just as with Roberts and Alito, that's not going to be enough to sink her nomination.