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GOP Critics of Sotomayor a Bunch of Racists, Explains Charles Blow

The columnist excoriates racist Republicans for hypocrisy in opposing Sonia Sotomayor: "Even Michael Steele, the bungling chairman of The Willie Horton Party knows that the Republicans have no standing on this issue."

"Visual op-ed columnist" Charles Blow now writes every Saturday, giving him twice as many opportunities to call Republicans racist, as he does again in "Rogues, Robes and Racists," dealing with GOP "hypocrisy" over the Sonia Sotomayor nomination.



Blow, who was apparently put in place to make columnist Frank Rich look reasonable and even-keeled by comparison, offered as one of his rock-solidrefutations of Republicansan unsourced Limbaugh quote at least 30 years old.


Someone pinch me. I must be dreaming. Some of the same Republicans who have wielded the hot blade of racial divisiveness for years, are now calling Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court nominee, a racist. Oh, the hypocrisy!


The same Newt Gingrich who once said that bilingual education was like teaching "the language of living in a ghetto" tweeted that Sotomayor is a "Latina woman racist." The same Rush Limbaugh who once told a black caller to "take that bone out of your nose and call me back" called Sotomayor a "reverse racist." The same Tom Tancredo, a former congressman, who once called Miami, which has a mostly Hispanic population, "a third world country" said that Sotomayor "appears to be a racist."


This is rich.


Even Michael Steele, the bungling chairman of The Willie Horton Party knows that the Republicans have no standing on this issue.


Of course, Democrat Al Gore was the candidate who first introduced Horton to America during the 1988 Democratic primary, butforget it, he's rolling.


Blow took his next cue from an unlabeled left-wing group, The Southern Poverty Law Center, known for being excitable when it comes tolocating "hate" in conservative America.The column is accompanied by an FBI graphic (that's where the "visual" comes in) showing hate crimes rising against Hispanics, though if those crimes are being committed by old white Republican men under the influence of Rush Limbaugh and Tom Tancredo is left unclear.


A report entitled "Under Siege: Life for Low-Income Latinos in the South" that was released last month by the Southern Poverty Law Center found "systemic discrimination against Latinos" that constituted "a civil rights crisis."


The report noted: "And as a result of relentless vilification in the media, Latinos are targeted for harassment by racist extremist groups, some of which are directly descended from the old guardians of white supremacy."


This finding is borne out by the F.B.I.'s hate crimes data, which show that the number of anti-Hispanic hate crimes have increased by half since 2003, while all other hate crimes have increased by 6 percent.


Politics aside, what exactly did Sotomayor say that got everyone in a huff? In a 2001 speech she said, "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." She acknowledged a racial bias. That doesn't make her a racist.


Blow goes on to smear Chief Justice John Roberts and former Chief Justice William Rehnquist.


Now let's look at a couple of the men who have ascended to the bench.


First, there's former Chief Justice William Rehnquist. When the Supreme Court was considering Brown v. Board of Education, Rehnquist was a law clerk for Justice Robert Jackson. Rehnquist wrote Jackson a memo in which he defended separate-but-equal policies, saying, "I realize that it is an unpopular and unhumanitarian position, for which I have been excoriated by my 'liberal' colleagues, but I think Plessy v. Ferguson was right and should be reaffirmed."


Furthermore, Rehnquist had been a Republican ballot protectionist in Phoenix when he was younger. As the Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen correctly noted in 1986: Rehnquist "helped challenge the voting qualifications of Arizona blacks and Hispanics. He was entitled to do so. But even if he did not personally harass potential voters, as witnesses allege, he clearly was a brass-knuckle partisan, someone who would deny the ballot to fellow citizens for trivial political reasons - and who made his selection on the basis of race or ethnicity."


Then there's John Roberts, who replaced Rehnquist as the chief justice in 2005. That year, Newsday reported that Roberts had made racist and sexist jokes in memos that he wrote while working in the Reagan White House.


This was evidently the big example of Roberts' racism, according to the Newsday story Blow linked to:


In some memos, for example,[Roberts] made jokes about Hispanics and women. For a 1983 Reagan interview in Spanish Today, he said, "I think this audience would be pleased that we are trying to grant legal status to their illegal amigos."