That’s the impression I was left with after reading Jay’s excellent piece in the new edition of NR, “States of Mind — Some notes on Sotomayor, race, and nagging questions of identity.”
Jay’s focus is “the racialist mindset.” It’s exactly the right issue, and it’s what Rush and Newt were getting at. They used the term “racist” and were denounced. Maybe if they’d said “racialist,” they wouldn’t have been. Yes, I realize that just because they’re Rush and Newt, there are always opportunists (on both sides) who see advantage in denouncing them for any reason, real or imagined. But leaving those grandstanders aside, I bet there would have been much less controversy. ”Racialist” doesn’t have the same baggage as “racist.”
I think we’re supposed to see a “racist” as a bad person (generally, a bad white person) who has contempt for people of different racial or ethnic groups (generally, blacks and Hispanics) for no reason other than that they are of those different racial or ethnic groups. Like a racist, a “racialist” also views the world through the prism of race (or ethnicity), but the racialist is deemed more thoughtful and nuanced: His or her race prism is seen not as a basis for irrational hatred but rather a unified field theory that explains phenomena — and that rationalizes varying interpretations of the same phenomena based on loyalty to the tribe.
In our multi-culti culture of victimhood, the racist is always bad but the racialist is spun as virtuous — someone whose unabashed bias is not irrational but a just remedy for past degradation, repression, imperialism, colonialism, etc. That is, the racialist is a rational, moral racist — which is to say, a racist of the Left.
However capably racialism is packaged, though, it is unbecoming in a judge. Obviously, that’s why the Left is trying mightily to persuade the public that Judge Sotomayor misspoke even though, clearly, she said precisely what she meant to say.