Returning to the Sotomayor discussion one more time, I wanted to respond to something else Jim Antle said. He wrote:

The practical result of eliminating color-blind justice will not be that all Americans celebrate their rootedness in unique, decentralized communities instead of being deracinated, atomistic individuals. And in terms of political norms, refraining from criticizing Sotomayor will not keep conservatives from being called racist when they criticize immigration policy, racial preferences, or anything else that gets conservatives called racist.

It is questionable whether “color-blind justice” is actually in danger here, or at least it is questionable whether it is in danger because of a judge such as Sotomayor. More to the point, it is much less likely that Americans will be able to “celebrate their rootedness in unique, decentralized communities,” if they are going to be able to do this at all, if Americans of all backgrounds are confronted with social stigma and ostracism for expressing pride in their roots and communities. The question, then, is why those conservatives who presumably could see some virtue in “rootedness in unique, decentralized communities” should be so scandalized by statements that reflect positively on particularity and diversity. Indeed, one of the main things that is so deeply troubling about official celebrations of diversity is that they are so very often wedded to programs of political centralization and uniformity.

As for the other point, it is true that refraining from making baseless charges of racism against Sotomayor will not stop other baseless attacks against conservatives from being made. However, it does seem all but certain that making such baseless charges one of the main lines of attack against Sotomayor will make it far more likely that even those conservative arguments that were once given the benefit of the doubt will be willfully misread in just the same way that critics seem to have been misreading Sotomayor’s statements. If there are already some conservative arguments on immigration, affirmative action or other policy questions that are frequently dismissed and ridiculed as racist, how many more will be tarred with this label as a result of conservatives’ having dramatically lowered the standards of what counts as a racist statement? How many conservative pundits and radio talk show hosts will wind up on the wrong side of the sweeping, unreasonably broad defintion of racism that conservatives are now employing to try to trip up Sotomayor? Perhaps most telling of all, this smear on Sotomayor will not advance conservative causes one inch, but will boomerang and harm them significantly, and those who recklessly flung these charges should not be surprised if they come back to haunt them later on.

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