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No, Sotomayor Isn't a Racist

I was thinking that the "Sotomayor is a racist" meme being pushed by the far-right reminds me in a roundabout way of US-Canada relations. No, bear with me.

Canadians think about the US all the time. They have to. We're ten times their size. Virtually everything we do has the potential to dramatically affect their world.

Meanwhile, most Americans barely think about Canada at all. Can Americans name any two of the five largest cities? The capital? Any province? The name of the prime minister? Right.

As a Caucasian, I didn't think about race much growing up. I had no reason to.

But if I had grown up Hispanic, in a project, in an era when role models for me of my own ethnicity -- at least in popular culture -- were essentially non-existent?

Or if I had grown up African-American and spent many a dinner wondering if I'd be able to flag a taxi to take my date and me home, or if we'd have to walk?

Or if I had grown up Asian-American knowing that less than 20 years before I was born, my ancestors were being held in domestic prison camps on account of the color of their skin?

How could I not look at the world -- at least in part -- in terms of race? How could I not feel that my ethnicity shaped me and gave me a viewpoint distinct from that of people from different backgrounds?

And would my race-influenced viewpoint make me a racist? No, not in the slightest. It would mean that my world view was informed by race, not necessarily governed by it. It would mean that I took note of race, not necessarily that I discriminated on the basis of it.

To suggest otherwise is to lack empathy. Somehow I think the Rush Limbaughs and Newt Gingriches of the world might see this issue differently if they had ever suffered the effects of discrimination, even indirectly, even if only for a day.

And don't get me started on the "Sotomayor isn't bright" meme. Because stupid people are high school valedictorians, graduate summa cum laude from Princeton, and edit the Yale Law Journal. For pete's sake.


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