we don’t discriminate, except when we do

Every job posting and even the cover of our seminary catalogue states that “Cornerstone University does not discriminate on the basis of race, national origin, sex, age or disability in any of its policies and programs.”  This important statement is enforced by our nation’s courts.  Should we ever sin by discriminating “on the basis of race, national origin, sex, age or disability,” we will be held accountable by our country’s legal system, which is headed by the Supreme Court.  So ultimately it is the Supreme Court which enforces America’s policy of non-discrimination.

Which makes yesterday’s nomination of Sonia Sotomayor so interesting.  I am glad that Obama chose a qualified Hispanic woman for the Supreme Court (I don’t know enough about her rulings to say whether or not I would vote for her).  I think that the diversity that she brings to the bench is a significant benefit.  But I also believe that her nomination process raises questions about the meaning of non-discrimination. 

Three times last week—on the Today Show and PBS’s The Newshour and WashingtonWeek—anchors from Matt Lauer to Jim Lehrer asked if this Supreme Court opening is one to which “a white man need not apply.”  It was obvious to these newsmen, as to many other pundits, that a certain amount of discrimination was being used in this appointment.

I’m fine with that.  But what I don’t understand is how we can then say with a straight face that we don’t discriminate when it is clear to everyone that we do.  Perhaps the way past discrimination is to discriminate for awhile.  Perhaps diversity requires it.  Fine, but let’s at least admit that is what we are doing.  This current trend of doublespeak seems dangerous and even a bit Orwellian.  If we can’t honestly talk about what is happening, how will we ever trust each other enough to openly share our views and heal the rift between races? 

12 Comments

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  1. I find her selection revealing a one-sided view of racism in America given some of the things she has said, which if they were uttered by the previous two white supreme court appointments, they would have never had a chance of being selected.

    Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s remarks in 2001 when she was an appeals court judge.
    “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,” said Judge Sotomayor.”

    In regards to the issue of the separation of powers within our constitution, she jokingly says that the role of a justice is to make policy, a video of her statements can be seen here:

    She will easily be confirmed by the heavy democrat majority in the Senate. The only bright spot is that she will be filling the position for a socially liberal justice, so the court will not be tipped in any direction…for now. But, down the road, she could become a deciding vote on many issues if more court positions need to be filled. I grew up in New York and one of our Senators, Chuck Schumer, was the one to recommend this Ms. Sotomayor while she was an appeals court justice in the bronx. Schumer has been quick to call her a “moderate” but I would take that with a grain of salt if you have any knowledge of Schumer’s politics. But, I’ve lost a lot of trust in both political parties even as I struggle to stay somewhat informed so I may know what to be praying for.

    Oh well…with the current other international issues escalating with North Korea and our government’s soft response to Kim Jong Ill’s psychotic regime, we may not have a Supreme Court in a few months or even a country.

    Even so…..come Lord Jesus!!!

  2. Hey, speaking of the Cavs, whom you mentioned in Saturday’s post, anyone ever told you that you bear a striking resemblence to NBA commentator Jeff Van Gundy?

    I realize, of course, that he’s bald and you’re not, but (as a former sportscaster, myself) I’ve occasionally thought that, with your dry wit, tone of voice, passionate opinions, and relative shortness (I mean that in the nicest way), you guys are like two peas in a pod.

    My guess is that no one else has ever said that? Anyway, back to sermon prep…

  3. John:

    Do you know why no one has ever told me that? Because it’s not true! I hope your sermon comes out better than your observations on life!

  4. I’m not a big fan of Sonia Sotomayor, but I do think that the thrust of your blog on discrimination ignores the self-perpetuating nature of the current system. White males still hold many more positions of power and authority proportionally than women or people of other ethnicities. Why? I think there are two reasons. 1) Natural attraction to people like ourselves (white men in power make way for more white men in power), and 2) a long history of investment in white men (thereby producing more “qualified” candidates who “happen also to be white.”)

    To ignore the problem is simply to accept and benefit from (I’m a while male) the privileged position that white men have in our society. We discriminate when we allow a system to continue that just so happens to produce more qualified candidates “who happen also to be white.”

    I do think that counter-discrimination is in order to bring some justice to this self-perpetuating problem of inequality. I do think, Mike, that diversity, even justice, demands it.

  5. Fair enough.

  6. Francis:

    I don’t think you heard me correctly. I said that I understand why we would want a diverse court. I just think it’s insulting to any thinking person to say that we aren’t discriminating. You rightly called it “counter-discrimination.” I agree with you that may well be what we need in certain instances, my only complaint is that those in leadership are never as honest as you. Let’s be clear and transparent about what we are doing, otherwise we will never trust each other.

  7. Mike:

    Sorry I misheard you. Despite the election of Obama and the current nominee process, I sense a swing in the nation away from “counter-discrimination” or any real effort to deal with the inequalities associated with racism. Doing nothing just perpetuates the problem.

  8. Would you agree then, Mike, that to let the current system run without “counter-discrimination” is also a form of discrimination? In our country’s history, out of 110 justices on the Supreme Court, 106 have been white males.

  9. Francis:

    It could be, if the non-white males are being discriminated against. This brings up the whole discussion of affirmative action, which I wasn’t intending to comment on. My post was really intended to be on the edges of that conversation. To the point: in our discussions of affirmative action and reverse discrimination, let’s strive to be honest and clear about what we are saying and doing, because duplicity breeds distrust. I really like your contribution, Francis, because you are speaking the truth about what we are doing.

    It may be that for a time we need to “counter-discriminate” to reach the right levels of diversity–and I’m open to that possibility–let’s just be honest with the folks that we are counter-discriminating against.

  10. Is it your opinion that non-white males are not being discriminated against? Inequality: problem solved?

  11. Francis:

    I think that in some cases yes and in some cases no. I don’t think that we can make a blanket generalization. But certainly where we lack diversity, such as in the Supreme Court, a bit of counter-discrimination is in order. On the other hand, I have also seen one instance where a significantly more qualified white male was discriminated against in favor of a white female. And while there was good reason to do this in the name of diversity, the employer refused to admit that they were engaged in counter-discrimination. So besides feeling that he was treated unjustly, the white male also felt that he was lied to. In my estimation, this just compounds the problem, and is perhaps in part why we are seeing an increasing number of angry white males.

  12. Hey all,
    I just wrote a post on my site, titled “Pessimism and the Gospel” I think it is relevant to this discussion and actually a critique of my own previous post under this thread…
    Specifically, my comment,
    “Oh well…with the current other international issues escalating with North Korea and our government’s soft response to Kim Jong Ill’s psychotic regime, we may not have a Supreme Court in a few months or even a country.”
    I apologize, confess, and repent that this was godless chatter and wrong. I’ve been convicted by Scripture and some reading I have done in the past couple days. You can read my reflections about this here:
    http://easterpeople.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/pessimism-and-the-gospel/

    Please feel free to leave comments as well. Oh and I’m not trying to steal loyal DSB blog visitors, Cavalier Fans, or Wittmer fans from the site. I comment on this site and I hope you all continue to; Dr. Wittmer has been very helpful is raising the issues we face in light of Christian history. My sympathies for the Cavaliers (I was wanting to see the Cavaliers and Nuggets and the exact opposite happened!!!)

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