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Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Irony of Right Wing Attacks on Judge Sotomayor

“To Thine Own Self Be True”, the advice of the Oracle of Delphi; true then, absolutely true now. Sotomayor is being damned by Right for speaking openly about the affects of her background...gender, race AND class. When she discussed the differences her perspectives bring to the bench than a “White Male” (quickly grabbed and echoed by the Right-Wing White Males gassing up the airwaves) she WENT ON to conclude that she had a special responsibility to be aware of those perspectives and balance them in her judicial role. This LAST part of her now famous “White Male” speech is conveniently left out by her critics. In essence Judge Sotomayor was saying “To Mine Own Self, Be True”.

Yet when we look back to the nomination of Sam Alito, we read the same sort of speech...his ethnicity, his culture his parent’s class...all asserted to be a VIRTUE so as to TEMPER and MODERATE his judgment on the bench. Clarence Thomas, the most transparent beneficiary of a racial quota in American History was lauded by the Right for his race and class while the Right asserted that attacks on his record and questions of his character constituted a “High-Tech Lynching”. No race card played there! And who can forget the lachrymose bleating of the Right Wing when Liberals dared to question the competence of Alberto Gonzales; Karl Rove chuckled to Newsweek’s Robert J. Samuelson that his Latino heritage made him “untouchable”.

Shall we ignore the fact that Judge Sotomayor has the most judicial experience of any Supreme Court nominee in a century? The fact that she HAS a record of decision allows the opposition to twist and spin a body of work to mean whatever serves their cause.

Will Sotomayor be “objective” in her rulings? She is brilliant and experienced and I will trust her to be fair. No one comes to the bench as a tabula rasa, unetched and pure. The Republican opponents of William Frankfurter’s nomination by President Roosevelt whispered that Frankfurter’s experiences with anti-Antisemitism in Austria where he was born might make him too “pro-Jewish”, whatever that meant.

Had Rush Limbaugh been alive in the 1930s he would be shrieking that poison for his Republican colleagues, just as he is today.

Friday, May 08, 2009

When Life Is Only Sacred In The Womb: The Folly of Life as a Political Abstraction

Harriet and I attended a dinner for Planned Parenthood at the Hilton this evening. It was an uplifting event in which individuals were honored for their hard work supporting the lives of families and children in our community. Planned Parenthood is one of the most important "pro-life" groups I know. They work with "life" in the lower case "l", the gritty, real and difficult life that constitutes our imperfect human estate.

Outside the Hotel there were about a dozen folks holding up pictures of bloody chicken-like fetuses. As I walked through the protesters I realized that to them life is an abstraction, with a capital "L". The fetus does not really represent life; "Life" is embodied in the fetus. There is an important difference here. After all, If life is sacred, and here I mean the web of life on Earth, the public policy agenda of so-called 'Pro-Life' activists would look FAR different.

But when life is only sacred in the womb, it is possible to tolerate corporate behavior that steals from families, exposes life to environmental risk and causes illness and death through accident or calculation to thousands around the world.

When life is only sacred in the womb, illegitimate wars that cause the deaths of 100s of thousands go unchallenged by "Pro-Lifers".

When life is only sacred in the womb, so-called "Pro-Life" politicians can pander to the Health Insurance Lobby and prevent Universal Health Care from becoming a reality.

The so-called "Pro-Life" side is silent on the imprisonment of 7% of our population in a penal system designed to warehouse bodies rather than care, reform, or redeem human life. They insist on a "law and order" agenda that criminalizes behavior in a bid to legislate morality. They support the prosecution of children as adults, they oppose funding a justice system for the poor, then they support the mandatory sentencing of those who are convicted.

With global warming, the extinction of species, and the explosion of urban and suburban sprawl throughout the globe-- the predicament of ALL life warrants our prayerful attention.

Yet, one of the (many) contradictions of the Sacred Wombsters is this: They believe that the Fate of the World is in God's Hands. I remember Nixon's "Born Again" Interior Secretary Kleppe testifying before Congress. Here is how the Secretary explained his reluctance to enforce environmental regulations (I paraphrase): God is the steward of the earth and this world will end. When the appointed time for the end comes, there will be little that any of us can do. So why bother?

So if environmental public policy designed to protect life is unnecessary because God will destroy this sinful earth anyway, then, when it comes to salvaging fetuses, why bother?

This is the point when the Wombsters start all the happy talk about "The Elect" and the "Rapture" when all the bloody chicken-fetuses take wing and soar to heaven. But unless you are Sarah Palin and believe that humans palled around with dinosaurs 6,000 years ago, it's kind of hard to believe that what began with calamity can possibly end any other way.

When the globe finally tilts as ice mass is redistributed in the form of water and the angle of rotation of the planet shifts just slightly, eliciting a movement of continental plates, the Evangelical will feel the Earth move and he/she shall seek protection from the calamity. The Evangelical will be praying not for everlasting life but simply for life; not for the glory of Heaven, but for survival on this earth.

Life is not abstract at all. Life is just life; isn't that enough?