Friday, May 29, 2009

A Puerto Rican Citizen's Voice

First, let me get a few, irrelevant facts out of the way.

I’m Hispanic. Puerto Rican to be exact. A 100% arroz-con-pernil-y- tostones-con-una-malta-fria Hispanic. I speak, read, and write fluent Spanish. I love Salsa music, I fly the little Puerto Rican flag from my vehicle mirror, and I think pegado is the best part of cooked rice.

I am also an American. A 100% blessed-to-live-in-this-country-and-enjoy-its-freedoms American. I speak, read, and write fluent English. I can handle just about any kind of music except Country and Southern Gospel. I salute the American flag when appropriate and have great pride in my country.

The simple fact that I am Hispanic does not give me a free pass to anything significant. I don’t expect people to treat me differently (better or worse) because of my race. My heritage does not serve as a shield for those who would criticize me. I will not defend my positions by leaning on my race.

Well, enough about me. Let’s talk about Sonia Sotomayor. Yes, that’s where I’m going.

The fact that she is Hispanic is a great thing. The fact that she did not have a privileged background is inspiring. And yet, all that is ultimately irrelevant as to whether she makes a good judge. She has not been nominated to the Supreme Court because of any of those reasons (at least I hope not). In the end, I consider those facts nothing more than interesting trivia.

I’m far more interested in her history as a judge.

There are plenty of concerns regarding her record. It’s been documented that she believes she ought to rule based on individual experience rather than on the law. She has made racist comments. Her decisions have been reversed 60% of the time. But, that’s all I’m going to say about her record. Enough people have said and written plenty about her judicial past. I think there are better candidates for the Supreme Court, but people with better writing skills have already picked up that baton.

No. This is what upsets me: Debate over who Sotomayor is a sensitive one

Let me make sure I understand this. Are you saying she needs to be handled carefully because she is Hispanic and you might upset the Hispanic voters? Do you believe Hispanics are too dumb to be able to separate criticism from racism? Are we to be coddled because we will collapse if she is questioned? Are we so delicate that we should be forced to accept a subpar candidate because no one in Congress has the courage to do what we elected them to do? Perhaps there are some Hispanics that fall into those categories. But to lump us all into that description is intellectually lazy and offensive.

Ask the fair questions. Expect an honest answer.

It is probably important for anybody involved in this debate to be exceedingly careful with the way in which they've decided to describe different aspects of this impending confirmation," White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said.

What are you trying to insinuate? I call on every Congressman to ignore the empty threats and to place passion and conviction where it belongs. You pulled no punches with Justice Clarence Thomas. You pulled no punches with Secretary Condoleezza Rice. You pulled no punches with Alberto Gonzalez. Why now?

This is not about the pithy, choreographed press conference. This is about the gritty hard work that must be done in order to preserve this great Country. Have the guts. Ask your questions. And if some bully brings up the specter of racism, call them on the carpet and make them prove it. Otherwise, we give in to a bully no more intelligent or powerful than the one lurking by the swings during grade school recess. I know racism is very real. But you think for a minute that we should put on kid gloves because of someone's race? Isn't that racist?

Now, on a national scale, I know my voice will barely be heard. I’m not smart enough to be a political talking head. I’m not connected enough for my opinion to make a huge difference in the grand scheme of things. But as a voter, I certainly am not delicate. Ask away. Let’s ask Ms. Sotomayor her viewpoints and have her explain and defend them. I'm exceedingly proud of what she has accomplished. But, this is not about the future of Hispanics. This is about the future of our Country.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Let’s live that dream today. It is a travesty to visit disadvantage on someone just because of the color of their skin. It happens, but it's still wrong. It’s equally as repugnant to grant them privilege solely for the same reason.

I will make no comment on whether she should be confirmed. I will, however, remind all that when it comes to race, we are all equal. We should all be held to the same standard.

2 comments:

Old NFO said...

What you say is true, but the sad fact is the administration is already playing both the race and gender cards...

Lawyer said...

I only hope the elected don't choose this moment to fold. I suspect they will, though.