Whether it makes for good politics or not to emphasize Sotomayor’s intellectual mediocrity and ethnic chauvinism, I don’t know. But I do find it striking how her entire world view and intellectual interests consists of narcissistic championing of diversity and the “magical Latinal soul,” as detailed by Lawrence Auster in a recent blog entry. I mean, a little ethnic pride is one thing, but the self-obsession with the distinctness of the Latin American experience and the need to justify the unfair advantages she’s been given by affirmative action suggest an oversized, but very fragile ego. This is a human type not so different from the prickly Michelle Obama. (Barack, by contrast, seems much more confident in his intellectual horsepower.)
How sad never to to look outside of oneself and the “Latina experience” and engage the robust heritage of Western Civilization. Can you ever imagine someone like Michelle Obama or Sotomayor reading something about Ancient Greece or modern India or the French Revolution or anything else for that matter? I am not Greek or German or Russian but I have alternately been fascinated by Plato, Kant, and Catherine the Great and, for that matter, the history of Mexico, Puerto Rico, Japan, Vietnam, South Africa, and Chile. Sotomayor’s absorption with her own tribe reminds me of how nearly all the Asian students in college took East Asian CIV and all the Hispanics Latin American CIV. It seemed only the whites dared to learn about sanskrit, hittites, eskimos, ancient Greece, and the like. And, of course, highly educated whites such as those on the federal bench are the only ones who can be publicly and repeatedly insulted, which is why Obama went to his crazy church for so long and why Sotomayor’s speech would be completely unobjectionable in her social circles. The combination of self-obsession and arrogance is typical and costless for affirmative action babies like them.
Sonia Sotomayor’s 2001 lecture at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law reveals a deeply mediocre mind. Reading it is a profoundly depressing experience. Nothing matters to this woman except the wonderfulness of her “Latina” identity and the need to get more people of color and more women on the nation’s federal courts. There is no other aspect of the law, no other aspect of America, no other aspect of the universe that she appears to care about. She evinces not the slightest sign of thoughtfulness, expresses not a single idea that rises above dreary mediocrity or goes beyond the rote repetition of the multicultural party line. Think of the old Communists, how they had no frame of reference outside the toppling of capitalism and no thought in their heads other than Communist slogans. Sotomayor has the same kind of mentality, except that her leftism, instead of being directed at the construction of a Communist state, is directed at the construction and celebration of racial and sexual diversity, and the slogans in her head are all about the richness and “vibrancy” of her “Latina” identity: “My family showed me by their example how wonderful and vibrant life is and how wonderful and magical it is to have a Latina soul.”
It is disgusting to read a 4,000 word talk by a person occupying the high position of U.S. federal appeals court judge who speaks endlessly about herself not as a judge, not as an American, but as a “Latina” woman, boasting about her ethnicity. She appears to be devoid of any sense of American citizenship.
What this woman represents is both the death of the intellect, and the death of the common principles, loves, and loyalties that made America.
I have to commend Auster for reading this entire speech; it’s awful in tone, similar to the orientation week lectures you get from highly indoctrinated resident assistants in college.
That said, it’s notable that while she is a number counter–i.e., she details through how many female and Hispanic judges there are on different federal circuits–her interests and the interests of Hispanic chauvinists in general are not nearly so militant or as distasteful as those of anti-assimilationist Muslims in Europe or extremist black activists at home like Al Sharpton. Her memories are not of major injustices, but of good times spent with family and a distinct cuisine. This has been my personal experience with Hispanics, who are generally friendly and warm people that are not terribly militant or alienated, even if they are left-leaning and want their group to get its “fair share.” As she herself says, “Many of us struggle with this tension and attempt to maintain and promote our cultural and ethnic identities in a society that is often ambivalent about how to deal with its differences. In this time of great debate we must remember that it is not political struggles that create a Latino or Latina identity. I became a Latina by the way I love and the way I live my life.” Well, it could be worse.