Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Some Are Sisters, Some Not

President Joe Biden's nomination of Ketanji Brown Jackson for a seat on the US Supreme Court was an exceptional one. That's especially the case because Biden was fulfilling his promise to select a black woman, a demographic group comprising in 2019 only 5% of active district and circuit court judges. Although the percentage undoubtedly has grown in the past three years, the universe of lawyers the President could seriously consider (selections typically come from the federal bench) would be under 10%.

That's an awfully large number of extremely well-qualified non-black women considered off-limits, and an unusually large number of hyphens for one sentence.  Understandably if unfortunately, there was nothing cable news, and even to a lesser extent print media, considered as important as the nominee's race and gender. And so we had:

President Biden on Friday said he would nominate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court, elevating a well-regarded federal appeals court judge who, if confirmed, would make history by becoming the first Black woman to serve as a justice. (The New York Times)

President Biden on Friday announced his historic pick of federal judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to serve on the Supreme Court, following through on a campaign pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the nation’s highest court in its 223-year history. (The Washington Post)

In Jackson, Biden delivers on a campaign promise to make the historic appointment and to further diversify a court that was made up entirely of white men for almost two centuries.... (PBS)

President Biden on Friday nominated Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court in a historic choice that could make her the first Black woman to ascend to the nation’s highest court. (Los Angeles Times)

When the news media accurately characterized the nomination as "historic" and the President stated "for too long, our government and our courts haven't looked like America," neither was referring to her height or hair style. More starkly, Democratic senator Cory Booker theatrically- at 2:06 of the video below- told Judge Jackson during the third day of her hearing before the Judiciary Committee

It's not going to stop. They're going to accuse you of this and that and heck, in honor of the person who shares your birthday, you might be called a communist. But don't worry, my sister, don't worry, God has got you. And how do I know that? Because you're here.

In the same video (beginning at 3:08), Chris Hayes had remarked

Even by those standards, the hearings for Judge Ketanji Jackson, the first black woman ever nominated to the Supreme Court and over 200 years in this country's history, has been stomach-churning.

We knew going in that because her race and gender would be an issue for some Republicans but I have to say, I have been taken aback by the facially racist nature of much of the questioning that Judge Jackson faced. I say "racist" because there is no other way to accurately describe it, if you want to call it "racially tinged" or whatever.

Yesterday, Jackson repeatedly faced a line of questioning that assumed she was soft on crime or sympathetic to criminals or maybe even likes crime. And the only reason I can determine is that it plays into the assumption that a black person is inherently associated with criminality, which is of course, racist.

Hold on a second there, buckaroo. Hayes perceives a "facially racist nature of much of the questioning."  He did so barely more than one minute after favorably showing Cory Booker addressing Judge Jackson as "my sister," a designation the Senator does not appear to have applied to any white woman.

Hayes' description of the line of questioning as "facially racist" is not the issue, though I'd much prefer the "racially tinged" and would undoubtedly disagree with him on specific criticism. And Booker certainly is entitled to refer in whatever respectful manner he wishes, even to imply that he identifies with "my sister." Jackson was no doubt pleased.

Chis Hayes and Cory Booker are on the same team, whether the Democratic, liberal, anti-Trump, anti-racist, or whatever.  However, fairness and accuracy don't allow one to accuse the enemy of racist questioning by showing a black Senator addressing as "my sister"  a woman he would not so address were she born of a different color.. Many people like jelly and many people like steak; jelly with steak, not so much.

Call it hypocrisy, tone deafness, or whatever. But Democrats or liberals aren't going to convince most of the country that Republicans or conservatives are "racist" while they themselves are making it clear that they believe someone can be judged (in this case, as a sister) because of their race.

Republicans will continue to quote Martin Luther King's admonition to judge people on the content of their character and not race if some Democrats continue proudly to make their racial preferences clear.. If Democrats want to alienate even further large swaths of the country, they are doing an effective job.


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