U.S. Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor clearly believes that she's smarter than the men who cross her path. In fact, she seems to have something of an unhealthy obsession with the idea.
Last week, her Democratic defenders in the White House and Congress tried to pass off her now infamous "wise Latina woman" quote from a 2001 speech at University of California, Berkeley, as "taken out of context," a "poor choice of words" or by claiming she had misspoken or was misunderstood.
That will be harder going forward, with a variety of news outlets now reporting she said the same thing in half a dozen speeches on multiple occasions over more than a decade. In some of the speeches, it is men in general that she is wiser than. More recently, it's white males. In still others, she leaves the Latina part off, merely arguing that women would reach a better conclusion than men. Regardless, it is now clear that Sotomayor meant what she said. She believes women in general and women of her ethnicity in particular to be smarter or wiser than men in general -- and white men in particular.
Here is what she said in the 2001 speech, in context:
"Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge 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 Prof. Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Prof. 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."
Even with the full glare of media scrutiny upon her, Sotomayor couldn't resist getting in one last lick against the detested male gender.
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin told Politico.com that Sotomayor had this to say to him last week about what she really meant: "Maybe it means with this background I'm a better listener, I listen for better things."
So she's smarter and a better listener? This woman is a pathetic caricature of the prejudicial thinking she claims to abhor. Her confirmation, which seems likely, will mark a turning point in American political-correct think.
The era of affirmative action, quotas and set-asides came with the implicit understanding that those of particular races and genders would be nudged aside to make way for others in order to disburse opportunity across society. The purpose was never to target a particular race or gender for retribution for merely sharing the "physiology" Sotomayor describes with others who were once privileged or who once controlled the levers of society.
Until now, the casual acceptance of Sotomayor means the acceptance of the overtly sexist and sometimes racist sentiments that have defined her public persona. Barely veiled disdain of males in general -- and white males in particular -- has long been an unspoken theme of political correctness. But it hasn't been overt. We hadn't yet turned the corner to the acceptance of retributive attitudes as perfectly mainstream.
But if Sotomayor is confirmed, we'll cross that line. Her confirmation will mark the beginning of an era where racist and sexist sentiments directed at males or white males no longer have the potential to disqualify one from holding an important position. (Similar blanket sentiments directed at any other group except possibly Christians will remain disqualifying offenses, of course.)
The lawyers will of course adjust. The legal teams and their consultants who spend ungodly amounts of time and money strategizing over Supreme Court cases will now think twice about letting a white male argue their cases before the court if they think Sotomayor's vote is winnable. They'll factor her prejudice in and carry right on with the business of winning.
The rest of society can't adjust as easily to an open season on white males. And it's a bit late to be launching one now, when men in younger generations are falling behind, particularly in school. Sotomayor's dated radical-feminist mentality, which would have been chic in 1964, is stale in an era when nearly 60 percent of college students are female, despite men ages 18 to 24 outnumbering them in the overall American population.
With 70 percent of the pink slips in the last quarter of 2008 going to men and 1.1 million fewer men working in the United States than a year ago, according to MSN Money, the time to declare open season on men has long passed.