Southern racism and sexism on display at Judge Sotomayor hearings

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Senators Jeff Sessions and Lindsey GrahamWhile we should all be proud that a wise, experienced woman of color is on the cusp of becoming a Supreme Court Justice, I am frankly embarrassed by the sexism and racism on display by Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama during Judge Sonia Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings.

Here we have two white southern males, one afraid to come out of the closet, the other wearing his hypocrisy on his sleeve. First watch Senator Graham question Sotomayor’s temperament.

Graham is clearly talking down to Sotomayor, insisting that he “likes” her, and that she should appreciate that. He goes on to quote anonymous criticisms as if they were fact: she is a bully, angry, excitable and aggressive, terms often used by men afraid of strong women. Graham’s questions coupled with his statement yesterday, that “Unless you have a complete meltdown, your’re going to get confirmed,” how can you not reach the conclusion Graham’s remarks weren’t sexist? Can you imagine him questioning a man, particularly a white man, the same way? Nope. Don’t think so.

Next up… Senator Sessions questions why Sotomayor doesn’t vote like other Puerto Ricans of whom he approves, like Puerto Rican Judge Cabranes.

Sessions also said Sotomayor was “unsuitable for the bench” due to her past affiliation with an “extremist group” called the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund (PRLDEF). Strangely enough, the previously mentioned Judge Cabranes also happens to be a board member. Tell me, why is he so preoccupied with her race?

Oh well. Perhaps it’s just sour grapes. Sessions was once nominated to serve as a federal judge, but was eventually shot down by the committee on which he now sits, because he had a problem with people of color, having once said to a white civil rights lawyer that he was a “disgrace to his race” for litigating voting rights cases. The New Republic has a thorough rundown on the fine racist, I mean Senator, from Alabama.

As I said before, I am simultaneously proud and embarrassed by today’s hearings. But not surprised. The South has a long history of devaluing women and people of color. And some unfortunately carry on the tradition, even today.

Post by ILO on 07/14/09 at 11:18 pm