She Didn’t Mean To Say That

President Obama knows what she meant. How he came about such knowledge, we are not told.

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama on Friday personally sought to deflect criticism of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, who finds herself under intensifying scrutiny for saying in 2001 that a female Hispanic judge would often reach a better decision than a white male judge. “I’m sure she would have restated it,” Obama flatly told NBC News, without indicating how he knew that.

She said in 2001: “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.” The remark was in the context her saying that “our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.”

Source: Yahoo News

I’ve read that line several times, and to my thought, the only way to alleviate the current criticism of that racist statement would be for Sonia Sotomayor to renounce the opinion…not merely find a way to restate it. For the criticism lies not with the structure of the sentence, nor has clumsiness of word been noted; rather the uproar is over the racial tones of the assertion. For an honest Supreme Court Judge will strive to set aside his biases; disregard his ethnicity, his values, his gender, his preferences, attempting instead to interpret our constitution with all sagacity and with intense care.

But our president knows she did not mean what she said, although the statement was taken directly from a prepared lecture she presented at the law school of the University of California. It was not an “off-the-cuff” remark. Wonder how he knows. Is it possible he doesn’t know?

Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor smiles as President Barack Obama
Photo from AP

42 thoughts on “She Didn’t Mean To Say That

  1. Greg,
    Regarding Vegamite. Being chock full of stuff that is good for you, does not make something tasty. I think we can both agree that B vitamins are good for us. I think we can also agree that not everything that contains B vitamins tastes good.

    Or any other vitamins for that matter. As the self appointed Official Taste Determiner for the Western Hemisphere, I made it official back in the 7th grade when one of our students returned from Australia via the exchange program and let us sample Vegamite. Vegamite is about as good tasting as rotten cabbage (or cabbage in almost any form for that matter), pineapple, coconut, lima beans or brussel sprouts- All equally yucky, in my professional opinion of course! Peanut Butter on the other hand…YUMMY!!!

    LOL

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  2. Mike – vegemite is brilliant – I can’t sing the praises of vegemite enough – full of vitamin B…I don;t get why other people can’t stand it -I love it – soo much so that you’ve just made me hungry for a vegemite sandwich!

    What, pray tell, is vegemite?

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  3. dean

    The blog agitator shouldn’t get the last word. Can’t answer the questions asked of you, can you? No peace in that position.

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  4. Esther

    One short comment. Helen’s remark that racism is a white man’s problem, shows that she has never lived in Mississippi.

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  5. “First of all, I don’t count someone who makes racial comment such as Sotomayor to be truly a Christian, because Christians don’t say that kind of stuff.”

    Christians do everything. And many of the things they (we) do are sin. But God is the judge. And we don’t get to decide who is and who isn’t Christian.

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  6. Janell

    Helen,

    First of all, I don’t count someone who makes racial comment such as Sotomayor to be truly a Christian, because Christians don’t say that kind of stuff. Why would she insinuate Latina women are smarter than white men?
    Secondly, I think it’s fantastic you went to private university and yes they are just as good as public. I’m surprised to hear about your degree though, based on your opinion that white people are the most racist especially after receiving such high education in this area, it’s interesting to note. I still disagree with you on that point though, because that’s just my opinion based on my life experiences and observations.
    When I said that racism will exist until Jesus comes back, I meant that it will exist in the world, not in the Church. Sin separates; the devil uses racism in order to separate. Look how it has us just all arguing about it…that doesn’t mean that we as Christians will be racist, just that it will exist between nations and cultures as long as the the devil is free on earth.
    I’m not pretending to be a great philosopher or theologian, these are opinions and personal beliefs.
    Hope I didn’t offend you!
    God bless~

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  7. Janell,

    “The good thing is that in the Church, all color lines, races, and ethnicities are blurred; we’re all children of God and that’s the beautiful thing about serving Him. There’s no distinctions and Big I’s and little you’s!” But “I think the entire administration is going down the tubes anyway and didn’t bother to learn about her.”

    RE: So, they’re not any part of the Church that counts, right? She a Catholic not a child of God. HUH?

    And as for your suggestion that I “take a Race & Ethnicity class in a public University. [I] will learn more than you ever needed to know.”

    RE: Won’t a private university do? I earned a Master’s Degree with a concentration in African American studies from Wake Forest University. I wrote my thesis, “Making All Things New: The Redemptive Value of Unmerited Suffering In the Life and Works of Martin Luther King, Jr.” about racial issues. That means I don’t get it, right?

    And concerning,” and it will definitely help you realize that racism unfortunately will never go away, until Jesus comes back.”

    RE: Why? Didn’t God send His Spirit to indwell and so that we could “perform the same works as I [Jesus] do myself, and will perform even greater works” (John 14:12).
    Didn’t the angels at Jesus birth proclaimed, “Peace on earth. Good will toward men.” ?

    But you just know we can’t wipe out racism until Jesus comes. Huh?

    RE: Just who are you listening to?

    Oh, yeah, I must be a fool to believe what professors at a private school with Baptist roots teach. How silly of me. Shoulda asked you. LOL

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  8. Jay-
    You said: “Irregardless, just because it is taught at the university doesn’t mean it is unquesionable truth.”

    Irregardless of what you may think, irregardless is not a word. Regardless actually means what people use irregardless for. Consider yourself having received one demerit. Further failure of compliance will result in a nasty wikipedia entry under your name.

    Thank you for your retrained efforts.
    Sincerely,
    The Office of Language Correction That Cannot Be Corrected On Its Own Misuse of Language

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  9. Ha! No no I’m saying just the opposite: it definitely isn’t a white person’s problem–it’s everyone’s problem. It happens in all races, unfortunately. I myself have been a victim of racism several times and it was thoroughly shocking and hurtful (and I’m white).
    As for the University, it wasn’t what they taught; I’m talking about the experience of it. (Rarely anything you learn in college is true, except for the sciences and arts! LOL) It will truly open people’s eyes to how much ignorance there is in the world, and how much closer we need to be to Jesus and show His love to the nations.
    Also, very interestingly, is that here in Canada it is even more racially diverse and I’ve never heard of there being hate crimes or racial slurs ever. People truly celebrate their diversity. It’s a beautiful thing! Wish America was more that way. Also, people don’t call themselves by colour here: you’re either, Canadian, American, Asian, African, etc.

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  10. Janell – I’m not sure what side you are taking here regarding racism being a white persons problem.

    Irregardless, just because it is taught at the university doesn’t mean it is unquesionable truth.

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  11. “Okay, Racism, as I have stated over and over is, in the US, a white people’s problem.”
    I suggest you take a Race & Ethnicity class in a public University. You will learn more than you ever needed to know, and it will definitely help you realize that racism unfortunately will never go away, until Jesus comes back. (But HG is right, we shouldn’t tolerate it but still make a stand against it.) The good thing is that in the Church, all color lines, races, and ethnicities are blurred; we’re all children of God and that’s the beautiful thing about serving Him. There’s no distinctions and Big I’s and little you’s!
    As for the original subject of this post, I really don’t know much about Sotomayor because I think the entire administration is going down the tubes anyway and didn’t bother to learn about her.

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  12. HG

    Purposely Dense or Just Plain Ignorant?

    According to Webster – racism is a noun. An excessive and irrational belief in or advocacy of the superiority of a given group, people, or nation, on racial grounds alone; race hatred.

    Based on Webster’s definition, Ms. Sotomayor’s statement is a racist statement.

    If she had said a wise Latina woman would reach a DIFFERENT conclusion than a white male, she would be correct. But when she said a wise Latina woman would reach a BETTER decision than a white male judge, she made a racist statement. See Webster’s definition above? She made a statement which evidenced her belief in the superiority of a given group on racial grounds alone. Pretty cut & dry – Racist.

    Purposely Dense or Just Plain Ignorant?

    “Okay, Racism, as I have stated over and over is, in the US, a white people’s problem.” Sorry Helen, I have to respond to this comment. Based on this comment, I make the assumption that you live in an area where White people make up the majority. In my little corner of the world, White people are the minority. My children attend schools where the White students are 3% of the student body. They are definitely the minority. If your statement were true, the Blacks & the Hispanics in their school would always get along, since they’re unconcerned with racism. This is the furthest thing from the truth.

    The most recent example of racism my son experienced was in his Student Government class. The two leading candidates for class president were a Black girl and a White girl (the only one in the class). The Black girl has a history of being “flaky” on her assigned projects, and the White girl got a plaque of commendation from the (Black) teacher for her outstanding accomplishments in leadership.

    One of the other (Black) girls in the class made the comment that she wouldn’t vote for the White girl. When asked why, her reply was simply – “Because she’s a White girl”. If that’s not racist, then I don’t know what is.

    So, if you honestly believe that Racism in the US is a white people’s problem, I really have to ask – are you purposely dense or just plain ignorant? Racism is rampant amongst all races in the US. It’s ugly, hurtful, and definitely not Christ-like.

    Jesus wasn’t afraid to call sin a sin, so why should we be afraid to call racism when we see it, regardless of the person making the racist remark? Racism is disgusting, and, as Christians, we should take a stand against it at every opportunity.

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  13. Jay, what a way to tap dance. Of course, Republicans, or anyone else for that matter, to oppose her on merits. What merits do you oppose? Oh yeah, she said she isn’t blind. Lets’ poke out her eyes for it.

    AND BIG MOMMA B. Who are you? Never heard of you. Wasn’t talking to you. But I’m shaking in my boots. LOL

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  14. AP

    SB,
    I believe I speak for all of your devoted “blog followers”, whether we are participators or lurkers. Please don’t feel that you have to respond to absurd, asinine, daft, empty, fatuous, flat, foolish, frivolous, futile, harebrained*, idiotic, illogical, imbecilic, innocuous, insipid, jejune, laughable, meaningless, mindless, pointless, puerile, ridiculous, sappy*, senseless, silly, trifling, unintelligent, vacant, vacuous, vain, vapid, weak, wishy-washy*, worthless post ,for our sake. Trust me when I say “we would understand” if you simply ignored them.
    You are the grandest of ladies, one of the greatest christians I have ever known,(in my meager 39 years). I believe Solomon said it something like this “Answer not a fool”.

    Sorry folks, I can’t help it. DON’T MESS WITH MOMMA B.

    AP

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  15. For the record, I never said Sotomayor is a racist, I said she admits that she won’t serve out justice blindly. Justice is supposed to be blind to race. That is why I don’t want her as a supreme court justice.

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  16. RE: “You are being purposely dense or just plain ignorant.”

    The statement was a direct reply to Shirley’s post just above it. Thus, the statement itself was said to Shirley. But on a blog where comments are quasi-public, it was meant for anyone who is pretending that Sotomeyer is racist. if the shoe fits,…

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  17. dean

    It may some day be bitter in your mouth. You side stepped the questions we asked of you. We believe you to be intelligent, articulate but just as biased and predisposed as you claim others are. Your only retort is …either believe it or dont?? Very weak. Very weak and pathetic.

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  18. I’ve said this over and over. Either you believe it or don’t. Whenever people tell the truth about race, it’s called “playing the “race card” by those who choose not to believe. Sotomeyer is not a child molester, a cannibal or a racist. Consider the cake taken. It was yummy. 🙂

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  19. Gosh I’m hyped up…. Were we being racist when we nominated Alito, only to have Dems discredit him. Where we being racist when Powell, Rice, and Chavez were appointed.

    See the thing is when republicans appoint minorities the democrat party unleashes a hail storm of critisism even calling them Uncle Toms or “not hispanic enough” in the case of Chavez. They are not called racists or hatemongers for opposing minorities.

    So Helen, I guess it is only Republican white people who are racist.

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  20. dean

    Helen, just who is your last paragraph directed to? You are a wonderful person. I enjoy your writings, but to state that racism is a white problem…. takes the cake. Are you being purposely dense or are you just plain ignorant and biased??

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  21. I get what Helen is saying. She is saying that Sotomayor believes that all white peope are racist. But that is okay, because Helen believes that to be a fact. Well if they aren’t racist, they are in fact recovering racists. Sotomayor is not a racist because she is only recognizing the racism in white people.

    Helen also believes the the doctrine presented years ago by Jesse Jackson that minorities, are incapable of racisim because they do not have the power to impose their racism on the underclass.

    -Did I get that right Helen?

    However, even if that were the case it would not be applicable here as Sotomayor has and would continue to have a position of very high power and is fully capable of imposing her will upon those in her court.

    It would seem that because Sotomayor is a minority it is unacceptable to oppose her nomination.

    What if she were a child molestor would it be okay then Helen, or would we still be racist?

    What if she were a cannibal, could we oppose her then?

    I don’t want to be a racist Helen, so please let me know what line she has to cross before you stop playing the race card.

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  22. Okay, Racism, as I have stated over and over is, in the US, a white people’s problem. When Sotomeyer said, “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.” The remark was in the context her saying that “our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging,” she is saying this: My opinion won’t be racist, so it will be more fair.

    Conservative folk want to discredit Obama in any way they can. (Do I hear racism here?) And they want to discredit this woman. (More of same.) Republicans and conservatives are running scared, afraid they will lose their privileged position. So they call others racist instead of dealing with their own sin. Yes, racism is sin. You comment that you “hate racism,” but you hide behind the “law.”

    “To shut out the person and to refuse to consider him as a person, as another self, we resort to the impersonal “law” and “nature.” That is to say we block off the reality of the other, we cut the intercommunication of our nature and his nature, and we consider only our own nature with its rights, its claims, its demands. In effect, however, we are considering our nature in the concrete and his nature in the abstract. And we justify the evil we do to our brother because he is no longer a brother, he is merely an adversary, an accused, an evil being.”

    Don’t look at this woman as a person. No. Take one 2001 statement and opposed her for knowing that white folks are racist and have the audacity to think someone “other” could hepl the problem.

    You are being purposely dense or just plain ignorant.

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  23. I’m just not understanding you, Helen. Are you implying now by Thomas Merton’s writing that pointing out a person’s racist remarks is analogous to not loving that person? I can’t see where I (or anyone on this thread) said or remotely implied that:

    To shut out the person and to refuse to consider him as a person, as another self, we resort to the impersonal “law” and “nature.” That is to say we block off the reality of the other, we cut the intercommunication of our nature and his nature, and we consider only our own nature with its rights, its claims, its demands. In effect, however, we are considering our nature in the concrete and his nature in the abstract. And we justify the evil we do to our brother because he is no longer a brother, he is merely an adversary, an accused, an evil being.

    Please clarify what you mean by posting these writings of Thomas Merton in response to this topic.

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  24. I didn’t say that, Shirley. But maybe they do.

    “Persons are known not by the intellect alone, nor by principles alone, but only by love. It is when we love the other, the enemy, that we obtain from God the key to an understanding of who he is and who we are. It is only this realization that can open to us the real nature of our duty, and of right action.

    To shut out the person and to refuse to consider him as a person, as another self, we resort to the impersonal “law” and “nature.” That is to say we block off the reality of the other, we cut the intercommunication of our nature and his nature, and we consider only our own nature with its rights, its claims, its demands. In effect, however, we are considering our nature in the concrete and his nature in the abstract. And we justify the evil we do to our brother because he is no longer a brother, he is merely an adversary, an accused, an evil being.

    To restore communication, to see our oneness of nature with him, and to respect his personal rights, integrity, his worthiness of love, we have to see ourselves as accused along with him, condemned to death along with him, sinking into the abyss with him, and needing, with him, the ineffable gift of grace and mercy to be saved.

    The basic thing in Christian ethics is to look at the person and not at the nature… Because when we consider “nature” we consider the general, the theoretical, and forget the concrete, the individual, the personal reality of the one confronting us. Hence we can see him not as our other self, not as Christ, but as our demon, our evil beast, our nightmare.”

    Thomas Merton. Seeds of Destruction (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1961): 254-255.

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  25. Jesus Is Persecuted by Henri Nouwen

    Jesus, the favorite Child of God, is persecuted. He who is poor, gentle, mourning; he who hungers and thirsts for uprightness; is merciful, pure of heart and a peacemaker is not welcome in this world. The Blessed One of God is a threat to the established order and a source of constant irritation to those who consider themselves the rulers of this world. Without his accusing anyone he is considered an accuser, without his condemning anyone he makes people feel guilty and ashamed, without his judging anyone those who see him feel judged. In their eyes, he cannot be tolerated and needs to be destroyed, because letting him be seems like a confession of guilt.

    When we want to become like Jesus, we cannot expect always to be liked and admired. We have to be prepared to be rejected.

    Helen, this is beautiful writing, but I’m not sure of the connection to the subject here. Are you saying Sonia Sotomayor’s remarks identify her as wanting “to become like Jesus?”

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  26. Dean, we are mostly in agreement here. My only point is that justice in it’s most pure form is to be blind. It is obviously not. It sees, color, age, sex. If it didn’t how would you explain the differences in punishements for male teachers who sexually abuse a student and an attractive woman. I think it is pretty clear that justice does see the while she is supposed to be blind.

    With that said, I don’t like that justice isn’t blind at all times, but it is the best that we have. If someone knows of a better one, please speak up. It would make no sense to have racial, sex oriented or any other quota on our judicial system.

    This supreme court nominee should know that justice is supposed to be blind, but instead believes that we should take the blindfold off and give preference to the minority. That is scary, because there would be no set rule of law, only the wim of the current judge.

    Hope that clears up my position for you. I should have been more clear.

    I suspect that no matter how strongly a Supreme Court Justice strives to merely interpret the law–sans personal biases–it is very difficult. We are molded by our life experiences. Given that understanding, those persons who make up the highest court in the land, should exert themselves, doing their utmost to precisely and sharply write their opinions to the law.

    By these recently revealed remarks, Sonia Sotomayor has told us she does not rule in that manner.

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  27. dean

    Jay, you do the crime… you do the time. Higher conviction rates only mean one thing…higher instances of lawlessness. Racist comments are very common, among all peoples. Some day all colors of people will recognize this, work to end it, and quit blaming one segment of society for the attitudes of many. I am getting off the soap box now.

    Hi, Dean. It is reported, and generally accepted to be true, I believe, that in certain groups there is a higher crime rate than in others. In such groups there surely should be more convictions. There should not be a higher percentage of convictions in such groups, though, than in other groups. If in any area of the country, certain ethnic groups are unfairly prosecuted, this is utterly and definitely wrong.

    As you, I long for the day, when racism exists only in history, but have little faith that will ever happen here…except when Jesus sets up His kingdom and rules and reigns over us.

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  28. Shirley, Isn’t the justice system supposed to be blind. Obviously it is not. We do see black men convicted at much higher ratios than white people. Does that mean we should place affermative action style quotas on the justice system. I think not.

    Hi, Jay. Yes, the justice system should be blind. Of course, we should place no quotas on the justice system.

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