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December 09, 2004

Racism? Not Quite. Patronizing? Absolutely.

Though I often find her enormously entertaining, I rarely quote Ann Coulter. But this column is spot on. Coulter takes on the Left's desperate attempts to delegitimize Bush's laudable (and so far unequalled) record on appointing qualified minorities to Cabinet-level posts:

So far, Dr. Rice has demonstrated her abundant competence only in academia, geopolitics, history, government, college administration, classical music and athletics. I eagerly await the Bob Herbert column in which he lists the subjects and pursuits he's mastered. If only Rice talked about her accessorizing like Clinton's Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, she might impress the sort of fellow who writes for the New York Times.
Liberals at least give white Republicans credit for being evil. Rumsfeld is a dangerous warmonger, Paul Wolfowitz is part of an international Jewish conspiracy, Dick Cheney is "Dr. No." But Dr. Rice? She's a dummy.
In fact, after spending the last four years telling us that President Bush was an empty suit, a vessel for neoconservative fantasies of perpetual war, liberals have now found someone who is Bush's puppet: the black chick.
It's all so eerily familiar.
Most recently – at least as we go to press – last Sunday Harry Reid, the Democratic leader in the Senate, had this to say about Justice Clarence Thomas: "I think that he has been an embarrassment to the Supreme Court. I think that his opinions are poorly written." You'd think Thomas' opinions were written in ebonics.
In the same interview, Reid called Justice Antonin Scalia "one smart guy." He said that although he disagreed with Scalia, his reasoning is "very hard to dispute." Scalia is "one smart guy"; Thomas is the janitor.

While I think we should be careful about throwing accusations of racism around, the charge of "condescension" certainly fits here.

The Democratic Party is so certain of the support of blacks that it feels quite comfortable patronizing them. I commented on their disgraceful treatment of Dr. Rice earlier.

As for Justice Thomas, his oral and written skills are more than equal to any task he might choose to take on.

Go read this and tell me Justice Thomas has poor writing skills. Mr. Reid should be embarrased to have made such an ignorant and graceless remark, but that would require a degree of self-awareness I'm not sure he possesses.

UPDATE: Baldilocks makes a point I agree with:

Being unfamiliar with the quality of Justice Thomas’ written opinions in comparison to those of his peers--legal eagles may weigh in on this subject--I can’t comment one way or the other. However, if his writing abilities *are* inferior, it should be okay to say so, in spite of the recent denigration of the competence of other prominent black conservatives. If content of character is the tool against which all conservatives want to be measured, then it’s not racist to opine that a given black person isn’t up to a particular position, if it’s a legitimate opinion based on evidence.

I get annoyed at the almost reflexive accusations of racism that follow any criticism of a minority group member. Viewed one way, I suppose it could be a hopeful sign that a liberal feels it's OK to criticize a black person :)

If only I could believe this meant we are finally moving beyond the paralyzing confines of political correctness to a place where we interact with each other as human beings.

Posted by Cassandra at December 9, 2004 09:14 AM

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Comments

Avoiding the "r" accusation is smart and reasonable of you Cassandra. Of course, the favor would never be returned. The point is these types of comments woulld never stand from right-identified speakers about left-identified minorities. That cartoonist can call Rice a house slave, others call Thomas stupid; Powell is treated in a similar fashion; ABA determined highly qualified minority judges are blocked from advancing to the Court of Appeals through filibuster, etc etc etc. It's OK, they were only discussing "conservative" minorities. We can go back to all the stereotype language we want when blocking them.

Posted by: KJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 9, 2004 10:32 AM

How about patronizingly racist? It is a rather old disease which many Southern Democrats in the United States Senate were afflicted with. As in, "we can handle our own problems with the colored folks. We love them. They love us." It was used to fight Civil Rights legislation. Before it became politically expedient to be otherwise, ol' Lyndon B. Johnson was pretty good at it.

Though it was assumed to have been eradicated years ago, it seems that the patronizingly racist disease reappears whenever a Republican of Hispanic or African origin is appointed to any position of responsibility. Not to worry, though, scientist a sure it will disappear as soon as the next Democratic President enters the White House.

Posted by: RIslander [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 9, 2004 10:46 AM

KKKJ:

You ignorant, racist pig :)

I agree that there's a double standard, but unfortunately two wrongs still don't make a right, and the only way to restore some civility to political discourse is for one side to tone down the rhetoric. It has to start somewhere.

I think the solution (as in so many areas of life) is to remain courteous yourself and politely point it out when the other side transgresses.

I did this once with one of my CO's wives who was being an absolute b**ch to me. Since she also happened to be a devout born-again Christian, I refused to rise to the bait and calmly pointed out that her treatment of me was hardly in alignment with accepted Christian ethics.

She was completely taken aback, but there was really no response she could make when I pointed out that I don't even attend church - if a reprobate like me was capable of turning the other cheek, surely she could pray for divine grace and reciprocate :)

Posted by: Cassandra at December 9, 2004 12:05 PM

But don't two negatives make a positive?

I'm not suggesting that two wrongs make a right. I agree with you that we shouldn't sink to that level. When dealing with the issue of hypocrisy, there are two things that one must do.

1) Point out the inconsistency with the opponent's approach, AND
2) Explain why you are right.

It isn't enough to say, well, you're a hypocrite because isn't what I'm doing what you usually do? All that does is say make you a hypocrite or you acknowledge the method of the opponent. Example: I read a column recently about liberal bias "consipiracy" in academia. The author argued that though his world was more liberal (he included), it was not conspiracy. He then pointed out that conservatives always argue that mere disparities do not prove discrimination. He then explained why he thought he was right. He did a good job. In was in an Atlanta Journal-Consitution this week. I'm not going to look it up to link it.

The point is, it is ok to point out the double standard. You have to follow that with, "I'm not going there but you would" or "I'm going there b/c it's right to do so this time but it isn't when you do it."

Too much rambling, need more coffee.

Posted by: KJ [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 9, 2004 12:51 PM

I can't help but notice how truly awful the writing is in every opinion with which I disagree.

Read some of Justice Thomas' opinions (click!), and then tell me that his writing is "poorly written." Reid is a stooge.

Posted by: spd rdr at December 9, 2004 01:22 PM

Heh. As Ann Coulter pointed out in the very column quoted, Reid didn't notice that "The Brethren" was published before Thomas was even nominated. The only black on the Court then was Thurgood Marshall, so if "The Brethren" protrays the black member of the Court as a nincompoop, it's describing Marshall, not Thomas.


Reid is the nincompoop.

Posted by: LarryD at December 9, 2004 02:47 PM

Yes, well he made that quite apparent when he gushed about how 'smart' Scalia was... how 'his reasoning was so sound' even if Reid 'disagreed with his conclusions'.

If that didn't make your head implode, I'm not sure what would :)

What a complete asshat.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 9, 2004 03:08 PM

Cass,
I went to read Justice Thomas' opinion. I am neither a legal eagle or a paralegal or a wannabe.
Just a housewife.

I got a migraine.

He is erudite and used relevant precedent and other things.

He is a smart guy.

Anyone have an opinion that Antonin whatshisname wrote?

Posted by: Cricket at December 9, 2004 03:21 PM

There's a Scalia opinion on JetNoise that spd linked on the main page. It's in the comments section of the post on Scalia's talk.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 9, 2004 03:26 PM

[Reids] argument goes something like this:


"I REFUSE TO PROVE THAT I EXIST", says God, "FOR PROOF DENIES FAITH, AND WITHOUT FAITH I AM NOTHING. "

"But," says Man, "the Babel fish is a dead giveaway isn't it? It could not have evolved by chance. It proves you exist, and so therefore, by your own arguments, you don't, QED."

"OH DEAR", says God, "I HADN'T THOUGHT OF THAT", and promptly vanishes in a puff of logic.

-- The HitchHikers Guide to the Galaxy

Posted by: Masked Menace© at December 9, 2004 03:29 PM

My own theological proposition.

We were naked when God made us - we are naked when we are born - we are naked when we go through that time travel machine they have in the Terminator movies - and I am naked when I ride my unicycle. Therefore God exists but he is naked.

Posted by: man riding unicycle naked at December 9, 2004 03:56 PM

Cricket:
Click for a list of Scalia opinions.
Happy reading. I hope your migraine improves.

Posted by: spd rdr at December 9, 2004 04:02 PM

Actually, Reid's logic goes like this.....


God is love........Love is blind.......Therefore Ray Charles is God.........God is a Black man from Georgia, but not on the USSC

Posted by: WildBlueYonder [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 9, 2004 05:12 PM

Oh, please. Our alcoholic principal could do better. The correct answer is Therefore, God is Blind. Unlike my grading system.

Besides, Ray Charles is dead. Much like someone's philosophy career.

Posted by: Mrs. Tingle at December 9, 2004 05:26 PM

In haste to abuse, which I consider a virtue, I notice that you were referring to the logic of Reid, a qualified imbecile. In that case, that someone would be Reid.

Posted by: Mrs. Tingle at December 9, 2004 05:29 PM

Dear Mrs Tingle,
Please excuse WildBlueYonder from tonight's philosophy assignment, his brain is full.

Signed,
WildBlueYonder's Mom

Posted by: Greg at December 9, 2004 06:04 PM

Ann Coulter is a cream pie receptacle and her opinions amount to zip. Those that take her seriously are even worse off. Praise Jesus, Inc.

Posted by: FU at December 9, 2004 06:14 PM

Yeah! Our first troll!

Posted by: Masked Menace© at December 9, 2004 06:30 PM

Yes, I always like an intellectually stirring, point-by-point refutation I can sink my teeth into, don't you? :)

Posted by: Cassandra at December 9, 2004 06:53 PM

Dang Menace... I feel like we've arrived.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 9, 2004 06:54 PM

What's worse than a "cream pie recepticle"?
A "DU Devotee"?
Jes curious.............

Greg

Posted by: Greg at December 9, 2004 08:12 PM

Cassandra,

Thanks for the link and the understanding.

I must say that I'm jealous. I never get any fun trolls like you apparently do. ;-) A bald, black chick wearing BDUs must scare them off. (The ichy banning finger might have something to do with it also.)

Posted by: Juliette [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 10, 2004 01:16 AM

I was surprised too - I think it has something to do with linking to liberal sites too - I've noticed that conservative blogs that link to liberal sites get more trolls (not surprising).

I don't usually link to liberal sites much as I don't like conflict and if I can't say something constructive, I don't like to say anything at all.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 10, 2004 08:17 AM

With only the most deference and respect, I think you are misreading Senator Reid's game. Liberals were furious that he spoke so well of Scalia, so in one interview he managed to enrage everybody. But he didn't care, because he was making a proposal to the President. His real message, if he could speak candidly on a Sunday morning talk show, was the following:

I know that I have very little leverage in the next Senate. If it should come to pass that we need to consider a nominee for Chief Justice, I want to fight my battles strategically. Now, if you nominate Justice Thomas, the party faithful are going to force us, the few and proud remnants of the Democratic party in the Senate, to pull out all the stops and make your life, Mr. President, as miserable as we can. Also, Mr. President, there will be endless re-broadcasting of the Hill/Thomas hearings, and nobody wants that. But, Justice Scalia, as right-wing as he is, is without question qualified to be Chief Justice. Apart from some face-saving quibbling about the Cheney hunting trip thing (which is a big deal to my comrade Atrios and his ilk, but which we insiders know is horse-puckey), Scalia will sail through. So don't bow to the pressure from your own wingnuts and put up Thomas, 'cause that will be ugly for everbody (who really wants to watch the Hill/Thomas hearings again?). Now, what are we going to do about back-filling Scalia's seat, Mr. President? Your move.

Yes, the Democrats are toughest on the most competent blacks and Latinos, at least if they're Republicans. But Senator Reid was playing poker.

Reactions to the official TigerHawk theory?

Posted by: Jack at December 10, 2004 09:09 AM

Very astute. Do you think he's that smart, or did someone put him up to it?

So if I understand you, if Bush fills Scalia's seat with someone agreeable to both sides, Scalia is confirmed and the Dems don't have to face the nightmare coup of yet another a black Republican appointee?

Posted by: Cassandra at December 10, 2004 09:25 AM

That is an interesting and reasonable theory. Since I don't know the mind of Reid I am not going to argue with it. But I will say that, No I don't want to relive the Thomas hearings but if the dems want to go there they do so to their own detriment. Immediately after the hearings the majority of the public beleived and were sympathetic to Thomas. That did not change until the memory faded and the public had been exposed to a few years of media misrepresentation of what actually occured.

So if I understand this correctly, the left dislikes both Scalia and Thomas, but they would oppose one more than the other for no other reason than his skin color?

Posted by: Pile On® at December 10, 2004 09:26 AM

I don't think it's his skin color per se so much as the fact that it would be an enormous political coup for the R's to have another black appointee under Bush's belt.

We're talking legacy here.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 10, 2004 10:28 AM

Well then it really is his skin color. The left is playing a dangerous game, while trying to keep their base from slipping away they run the risk of aleinating their base with their tactics to preserve their base.

And if you can understand that sentence you are smarter than I.

Posted by: Pile On® at December 10, 2004 11:52 AM

I think the left has it in for Thomas for a number of reasons, not just his skin color. Do not forget the impact of the Thomas/Hill confrontation -- it transformed our ideas about appropriate office conduct, inspired a tremendous amount of "hostile environment" litigation that surfaced a lot of hostility between the genders, and put virtually everybody in the United States Senate in an impossible position. A lot of people believed Hill, and do not think that Thomas should have been confirmed. Scalia carries no such baggage.

Also, when I raised the spectre of reliving the Thomas/Hill hearings in a new confirmation fight, I did not mean that the Democrats would bring up that ugly history. I do not think it is in their interests to do so. However, you can bet your bottom dollar that the cable news channels will run excerpts from those hearings and today's talking heads will have a field day. What a nightmare for both sides.

Cassandra, you basically captured my point, but I think you (and my old law school chum Ann Coulter) are somewhat overstating the significance of Thomas' race. Sure, black activists hate him because they view him as a turncoat, but a lot of people just don't like his politics (remember, he is no friend of affirmative action, and was Chairman of the EEOC before his nomination, so he made a lot of people angry on substantive grounds). Also, Scalia is seen even by his opponents as a first class legal mind, so that makes him more acceptable to people who have a sincere desire to maintain the intellectual credibility of the Court. Thomas is not the failure that the left describes, but he is "no Louis Brandeis," as a friend of mind would say. As I've said elsewhere, he does not help himself by staying silent during oral argument, which you have to admit is a bit weird.

Posted by: Jack at December 10, 2004 03:01 PM

Staying silent during oral argument? A bit weird? I guess. Or maybe he read the freakin' briefs.

Posted by: KJ at December 10, 2004 03:15 PM

I am no lawyer, nor am I a student of the SC. But I have read on rare occasion the oral arguments and sometimes the Justices ask good questions and then IMHO some of it is just self-grandizing ego fertilizer. To me that is weird.

Posted by: Pile On® at December 10, 2004 03:47 PM

Self-aggrandizing. I don't want Cass thinking I am illiterate.

Posted by: Pile On® at December 10, 2004 03:50 PM

Scalia's opinions are simplified Chomsky.

That doesn't mean I could not follow them. What it means is that he is succinct.

You lawyer types out there have my respect when you have to connect the dots and draw up a game plan.
Now, I could play poker or chess with any one of you and win. Out write you? HAH!

But Thomas' race isn't being overstated. I think it is the foil that he is conservative and not following the script of the DNC. I almost posted something about the Democrats lionizing MLK and Bill Clinton for being so progressive, despite the fact that both were proven womanizers and the former president had a LAMENTABLE track record in the area of sexual harrassment and their hypocritical howling over Justice Thomas' appointment to the Supreme Court. It just proves that all sins are forgiven once you are liberal.

Including the sin of being black and self made.

Posted by: Cricket at December 10, 2004 07:15 PM

Jack, I think you may be ascribing your own high-mindedness to the opposition.

re: Scalia carries no such baggage...

I disagree. He's the Dick Cheney of SCOTUS. To most liberals, Scalia is the Anti-Christ. He is far more hated than Thomas, who at least is quiet and non-confrontational. Scalia takes delight in rubbing his less-intelligent opponents' noses in the fact that they are morons, and when they are smart enough to catch on, they don't appreciate it. And his politics are stronger (and thus more objectionable) than those of Thomas.

Posted by: Cassandra at December 10, 2004 07:31 PM

I'm not a big Court-watcher, so if you say that the left hates Scalia more than Thomas, I defer to you. I have, then, a final observation in this thread:

While the left may really hate Scalia, the "moderate middle" almost certainly respects him more than Thomas. Nobody serious doubts his intellectual capacity. There are serious people who aren't racist who nevertheless doubt Thomas' (doubting Thomas!) brains. Remember, you can be the 7th or 8th smartest Justice on any Supreme Court and still be extremely smart, so it is not quite such a slam as Ann Coulter suggests. In any case, whether or not this is fair to Thomas, I believe it to be the case. Therefore, Scalia may very well be more confirmable than Thomas, even if there are 30 Senators that hate his guts.

Posted by: Jack at December 10, 2004 11:40 PM

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