I suppose I should be amused, watching the right-wing piss itself. I mean, with the Latino portion of the nation’s population only growing, why would you want to go out of your way to prove yourself a clueless, racist idiot? But, as several commentators have noted, the right just can’t seem to help itself…and seems unable to believe that anyone doesn’t see Sonia Sotomayor as the howlingly dangerous “La Raza” radical they see her as.
Then, they might just be batshit insane. Let’s start with the relatively sensible (as in: rabid dog versus starving mother tiger while you juggle one of her cubs) and this columnist, who asserts that Sotomayor’s uppity insistence on pronouncing her own name in a manner not of his liking just “sticks in his craw.” (My guess is, he has quite the capacious and crowded craw.) This fellow – whose very English surname is Krikorian (an irony he at least is aware of) – argues that the majority has the right to tell people how their own names are pronounced. He trots out the tired assimilationist argument (as if “assimilation” is necessary, Mr. Borg) – but fails to note that, okay then, perhaps in the southwest and areas of California, Texas, and Florida where Spanish speakers outnumber English speakers or will soon do so, people named “John” should get used to being called “Juan,” “Paul” must accept “Pablo,” etc. Somehow I don’t think he’d agree.
The more ridiculous aspect of his argument is that Sotomayor’s preferred pronunciation (which is not a mere personal preference, any more than not pronouncing “Smith” as “Throat-Warbler Mangrove” is) is not natural to English. Final syllables are rarely accented in English, Krikorian (pronounced “Crick O’Ryan” henceforth) argues. Rather an inane argument, with some absurd reasoning, especially for a nominee to the Supreme Court. Of course there are many well-assimilated American surnames whose final syllable is accented. Would Krikorian have trouble if the nominee’s name were “Michael Patrick O’Keefe”? Yet that very Irish name has exactly the same accent pattern as “Sonia Sotomayor.” How “unnatural”!
But beside the following “argument,” that one appears positively shining in its clarity and sanity. Curt Levey, executive director of a right-wing advocacy group, argues that Sotomayor’s preference for traditional Puerto Rican cuisine, such as patitas de cerdo con garbanzo (pigs’ feet with chickpeas), somehow will influence her decisions if she is approved. It’s unclear whether Levey is in fact a time-traveler from the early Middle Ages, when the logic of such an argument would seem self-evident, but I must note that white male nominees never seem to get quizzed about their dietary preferences (nor is anything made of the effect their background will have on anything they do).
You will note that there seems to be precious little argument based on, say, Sotomayor’s actual qualifications or the decisions she’s rendered. I wonder why that is.