The New York Times had a report over the weekend on Sonia Sotomayor's background, which noted that the judge, as a young woman at Princeton, "spent summers reading children's classics she had missed in a Spanish-speaking home and 're-teaching' herself to write 'proper English' by reading elementary grammar books."
Pat Buchanan, at his most Pat Buchanan-esque, is not only using this anecdote to mock the judge, but he continues to push a baseless, insulting far-right line about Sotomayor's intelligence.
"Well, I, again in that Saturday piece, she went to Princeton. She graduated first in her class it said. But she herself said she read, basically classic children's books to read and learn the language and she read basic English grammars and she got help from tutors. I think that, I mean if you're, frankly, if you're in college and you're working on Pinocchio or on the troll under the bridge, I don't think that's college work."
For what it's worth, my piss-poor Spanish improved immensely once I started reading children's books in that language. The technique was suggested to me by a web acquaintance who used to be an actual spy. So, you know, good enough for people who have to learn how to speak a language well enough not to get caught and tortured, not good enough for Nixon's speechwriter.
Also note the insulting use of "...she went to Princeton. She graduated first in her class it said."(emphasis mine) This is not he said/ she said. She graduate summa cum laude from fucking Princeton. They write this shit down. They keep records. This is, as we used to say in the science business, an objective goddam truth. And Ivy League schools don't give out affirmative-action summa cum laude's. It is worth noting that they did, for decades, hand out out gentleman's C's.
When simply Googling "Sotomayor/first in her class", you get an awful lot of right wing websites, and the comments in there are revealing. They remind me of when I wrote about Imus insulting the Rutgers women's basketball team with the phrase "nappy-headed hos." Not the article, but about a particularly informative and sincere exchange that started in the comments and then, if memory serves, ended with a perfectly polite set of e-mails.
One reader didn't agree with my characterization of the basketball scholarship players as in a "power negative" position. As he put it "They're going to to a top-level university I'd never get a chance to go to."
And what I didn't want to say at the time was: well, yeah, but it's not like they took your spot. These young women got scholarships based on sporting ability -- offered to thousands of students every year based on skill, thousands of hours of practice and hard work, and sheer luck -- and then had to maintain their grades once they were at that school. If you think that any coach of the women's basketball team at any major university has the clout to grade pad, you're adorable.
This is the same sort of madness that makes the reader of one right-wing blog contribute:
Derb — I’ve been hoping that someone might be bold enough to rain on the Sotomayor “compelling life story” parade.
The woman grew up in the capital of the world, went to two Ivy League schools, and was blessed by Providence with the precisely correct right race-gender two-fer for the moment.
This is a story of privilege, dammit, not adversity.
I'm sure when Sonia Sotomayor was six years old, being raised by a single Puerto Rican mother in the Bronx in the 70's, she knew she could kick back and riiiiiide it out, because she was on fucking Easy Street, baby. As we all remember so well, the Bronx in the 70's was a peaceful racial utopia.
People this stupid should have their license to chew gum revoked.
It's no great insight to say the default setting of American culture has become a lurking fear that "somebody else got something you wanted" mixed with boiling resentment at the mere suggestion that anyone at any time may have it harder than you do, but it's worth stating, plainly:
If you didn't get into Harvard, and all the black and Hispanic Americans suddenly disappeared, odds are you would still not be getting into Harvard.
(If you do get into Harvard, however, feel free to apply for one of many quirky scholarships, including one just for people named Downer. Huh.)
Not to belabor the point (too late), but two things in this world are generally, 99.9999% true:
1.) If you are unhappy with your life, it's not because a brown person made it that way.
2.) If you end any argument or statement with " ... is that racist of me to say?" -- the answer is always "yes."
Glad to help.
(EDIT: Hey, what about when a black person commits a crime against a white person? Sure, you go rock that argument out. I'll wait.)