by Chris Stevenson
When President Obama stated that he didn’t feel any pressure to choose either a minority or a woman in his choice to replace Supreme Court Justice David Souter, I immediately twittered to the known universe that he was going to pick a white guy. By now the name Sotomayor is a household word. Shows you how much I know. Sonia Maria Sotomayor comes from a background that will make her understand particular situations with common people more than the type of Judge I predicted Obama would choose. Thus far this seems to be a first-class choice; Isn’t it true she’s a daughter of Puerto Rican immigrants? Isn’t it true she was born and raised in the Bronxdale Projects? Isn’t it true she was inspired by the TV show “Perry Mason?”
Young Sotomayor flanked by her classmates.
I’m not sure if the producers of Mason intended for this to happen, given the makeup and climate of shows of that era (as if TV shows today are an improvement), Of course it didn’t take long before conservative leaders such as Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh to begin calling her a racist for nothing more than a minor use of words they only partially quoted. What makes Sister Sonia win in my appeals court is she started out serving her community, taking on petty cases like purse-snatchers, prostitution to police brutality and murders. She was known to be passionately against violent crimes involving Hispanic vs. Hispanic. Those are things any minority doesn’t need permission from others to feel or act on. You got black Judges, Attorneys and police officers today backing off the race issue while staring at black youth passing through their criminal justice assembly line. Yet those on the right who choose to scrutinize Sotomayor’s rulings and writings and those soft blacks in the pivotal positions who prefer to avoid the race issue are ignoring the blueprint and authors of modern racism today.
Most of us today know about Marin Luther King Jr; an integrator, a uniter, laws that many of us black and white, take for granted today came about as a result of his direct actions. Few of us really know the man he (his father more specifically) was named after; Martin Luther. This man could be considered the starter of modern anti-Semitism; Martin Luther made blanket diatribes against Jews throughout his life that were well-hidden from the world-at-large that should make an honest pundit clam-up regarding any examination of Sotomayor. Luther is best known for initiating the Protestant Reformation movement, which in time led to a sect being named after him; Lutheranism or the Lutherans. This was back during the early 1500s. In 1543 he wrote a book titled “On the Jews and their Lies.”
Though before then he displayed hints of anti-Semitism by listening to John Chrysostom, Lyra and Burgensis, his book became the first to make popular the concept of the hating-Jews-to-avenge-Christ-death excuse. An article by Jim Walker does a brief review of this book. It seems Luther used his prominent status as a Christian to give his venom against a whole people credibility. So severe was his judgments that Walker thought “the Jewish Holocaust and indeed, the eliminationist form of anti-Semitism in Nazi Germany may not have occurred without the influence from Luther’s book ‘On the Jews and their Lies.'” Luther wastes no time in his animus towards them, right from the Introduction: “I have made up my mind to write no more about the Jews or against them. But since I have learned that those miserable and accursed people do not cease to lure themselves even to us, that is the Christians, I have published this little book, so that I might be found among those who opposed such poisonous activities of the Jews who warned the Christians to be on their guard them… They have not acquired a perfect mastery of the art of lying; they lie so clumsily and ineptly that anyone who is just a little observant can easily detect it.”
Luther didn’t just write against Jews, he advocated violent actions against them: “My advice as I have said earlier is First, that their synagogues be burned down, and that all who are able toss sulfur and pitch; it would be good if someone can throw in some hellfire… Second, that all their books–their prayer books, their Talmudic writings, also the entire Bible–be taken from them, not leaving one leaf… Third, that they be forbidden on pain of death to praise God, to give thanks, to pray, and to teach publicly among us and in our country. Fourth, that they be forbidden to utter the name of God within our hearing for we cannot with a good conscience listen to this or tolerate it.” This was just the first of several anti-Jewish books Luther wrote. He was said to actually have had a favorable view toward Jews while growing up, but urned on them when they didn’t see certain things as he wished (as if they were supposed to). What mystifies me is how Luther is considered a great Christian when such hateful mindless writings proved he was neither.
Martin Luther’s work already had an audience, the year he was born (1483) the Spanish Inquisition was extended. European Jews were already having water forced down their throats after their noses were pinched shut, put on the rack, whipped and burned. According to John Hagee’s “In Defense of Israel” 323,362 Jews were burned alive during this period.
Thomas Jefferson’s racism really surprises no one, but his personal sentiments about blacks during slavery in a book he wrote in 1781 called: “Notes on the State of Virginia” shocked quiet a few. It is there were he saved his true feelings about blacks whereas in public his feeling were often mixed. In one paragraph he infers that blacks lack the ability to love: “But love seems with them to be more of an eager desire, than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment and sensation.” How Jefferson manages to dismiss the one trait that got blacks through slavery is beyond me. No doubt the same experience will look different to people of different economic class and circumstance,; the poorer you are the more passionate a couple will look, compared to the calm appearance of a rich couple courting each other along acres of their own ground out in the open. Jefferson strongly implied blacks lacked the power of reason: “It appears to me that in memory they are equal to whites; in reason much inferior… But never yet could that a black had uttered a thought above the level of plain narration, never even seen an elementary trait of painting or sculpture.” Jefferson must have had some clue that for a black to display those attributes for the arts could cost them their lives. I don’t think his plantation was that sheltered from reality.
Strangely enough it is with blacks long-known connection with music that he is most condescending and insulting: “In music they are more generally gifted than the whites with accurate ears for tune and time… whether they will be equal to the composition of a more extensive run of melody, or of complicated harmony, is yet to be proved. Misery is often the parent of the most affecting touches in poetry-Among the blacks is misery enough, God knows, but no poetry.” These views aren’t worth their weight in cotton except-like Luther with the Jews-his views had direct bearing on how others viewed and interact with the race or ethnic group in question and Jefferson was a political decision maker during much of this period. According to Hagee’s book Luther’s works were cited by Dean Inge: “The worst evil genius of Germany, is not Hitler, or Bismark, or Frederick the Great, but Marin Luther”
Jefferson’s deep prejudice crosses over into the one realm blacks were then renowned for; music. His words implied black slaves understood “tune and time (rhythm)” but were complete idiots when it came to extensive melody or “complicated harmony.” So even though having an over-abundance of misery in their lives, blacks were unable to put their misery into extensive, complicated, harmony.” One wonders, in so desperately labelling Sotomayor a racist, whether or not Rush or Newt and their ilk are always just as astute in identifying racism in their daily lives?
Gingrich wasn’t known to belong to any religion until he started attending the St. Charles Ave., Baptist Church to study a course and was soon baptized by George Avery Lee Sr, a Civil Rights Advocate. The country at large first heard of him back in ’94 as Clinton House Speaker after leading a mid-term election campaign of republicans calling themselves “Angry White Males.” Luther’s schism gained broad influence into political and economic affairs over the generations. It does no good to facetiously try and invent a racist or imply someone of Sotomayor’s character harbors secret racist traits in a petty Hail Mary attempt to botch her confirmation, without analyzing the true racism that was overlooked for centuries.
Chris Stevenson is a syndicated columnist, his articles also appear in the Buffalo Challenger. Reply to him at the link below.