I, Latina

Rock star Tina Turner gave her memoirs (written with Kurt Loder) the irresistible title I, Tina. Loder is the respected former editor of Rolling Stone. He knows how to tell a good story, and in Turner’s life he had a great one. If the experience of life’s ups and downs qualifies one for the Supreme Court, Turner qualifies several times over.

I would hold the destruction she wrought on John Fogerty’s “Proud Mary” against her. Loder quotes her in the book: “We made that song our own. I loved the Creedence version, but I liked ours better after we got it down, with the talking and all. I thought it was more rock ‘n’ roll.” That misjudgment is hard to swallow, but whatever confirmation standard was to be applied, she’d have my vote.

Sonia Sotomayor is something else again. Her memoirs could aptly be titled I, Latina. Unlike Turner’s memoirs, the title would efface her individuality in favor of a factitious ethnic group. In her revealing 2001 speech “A Latina judge’s voice,” subsequently published in the Berkeley La Raza Journal, Judge Sotomayor held:

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge [Miriam] Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O’Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, 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.

This is a rich text. It tells us a lot about Judge Sotomayor, none of it good, and all of it borne out by other passages in her speech. In part she buys into the education establishment’s “diversity” ideology, in which individuals are to identify themselves with approved racial and ethnic groups. Among the purposes of the “diversity” ideology is the engineering of an equal representatation of groups.

The defense of racial preferences in the name of “affirmative action” and “diversity” has become part of contemporary civil rights orthodoxy and many purportedly sophisticated arguments have been advanced to justify them. This concept of “diversity” in the educational seting has been all but constitutionalized through the opinions of Justice Lewis Powell (in Bakke) and Sandra O’Connor (in Grutter).

I believe it was Stephen Douglas who first invoked the concept of “diversity” to advance a political argument. Douglas found the argument useful in the senatorial campaign of 1858 to disparage Abraham Lincoln’s opposition to the spread of slavery. According to Douglas, Lincoln’s assertion that the nation could not exist “half slave and half free” was inconsistent with the “diversity” in domestic institutions that was “the great safeguard of our liberties.” Then as now, “diversity” was a shibboleth hiding an evil institution that could not be defended on its own terms. Judge Sotomayor is a partisan of the “diversity” racket.

Judge Sotomayor, however, takes her case a step beyond its traditional terms. She argues that “Latins” aren’t just equal to other groups. For whatever reason — perhaps even for reasons of biology leading to “basic differences in logic and reasoning” — “Latins” may be superior, at least to, well, people of noncolor. Here we see how a misconception of equality (equality of racial or ethnic groups) can result in, or comfortably subsist with, a claim of racial or ethnic superiority.

Judge Sotomayor also displays a frank relativism in advancing her argument. Not for her the self-evident truth of the equality of men, the doctrine to which Calvin Coolidge paid tribute in his great speech on the Declaration of Independence:

If all men are created equal, that is final. If they are endowed with inalienable rights, that is final. If governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, that is final. No advance, no progress can be made beyond these propositions. If anyone wishes to deny their truth or their soundness, the only direction in which he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people. Those who wish to proceed in that direction can not lay claim to progress. They are reactionary. Their ideas are not more modern, but more ancient, than those of the Revolutionary fathers.

Suffice it to say that Judge Sotomayor’s notion that “there can never be a universal definition of wise” (consistent with several other such statements in her speech) is more ancient than the ideas of the Revolutionary fathers. She is among those who wish, in Coolidge’s words, “to deny their truth or their soundness,” and, as a result, “the only direction in which [s]he can proceed historically is not forward, but backward toward the time when there was no equality, no rights of the individual, no rule of the people.”

One footnote. Judge Sotomayor’s speech is saturated with a vulgar Marxism in which race is substituted for class. The ideology is ironic as applied to the factitious “Latin” or “Hispanic” ethnic category to which Judge Sotomayor subscribes. “As is well known,” the late Professor Hugh Davis Graham writes in Collision Course: The Strange Convergence of Affirmative Action and Immigration Policy in America, “the blanket term Hispanic or Latino misleads by masking wide cultural differences associated with country of origin.”

Among other differences, the terms “Hispanic” and “Latino” mislead by masking the differences between the native peoples of of the countries of origin and their Spanish conquerors. Is Judge Sotoamayor a descendant of “the oppressors” or “the oppressed”? I don’t know. I would guess she has the blood of each running in her veins, but her name reflects the oppressors.

Luis Carrillo y Sotomayor, for example, was a seventeenth century Spanish poet known, so the Encyclopedia Britannica advises, as the chief exponent of culteranismo, which developed from the highly ornate and rhetorical style gongorismo, originated by the poet Luis de Góngora. In Carrillo’s treatise Libro de la erudición poética, “he attempted to justify his methods by claiming the merits of obscurity in poetry.”

To take another example, perhaps more appropriate, María de Zayas y Sotomayor was a famous seventeenth-century Spanish writer. She has lately returned to fashion in a protofeminist guise.

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