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Journalists Ignore Reality That 'Post-Racial' President Isn't

In the run-up to Obama’s election, journalists were promoting him as a “post-racial” candidate. Now with the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for Supreme Court we know that both the media and the candidate were lying to us.


As USA Today columnist DeWayne Wickham wrote on May 5, 2009, “For many people in the USA, Obama's election ushered in a post-racial era that was expected to push race to the back burner of our national consciousness.” But his presidency isn’t “post-racial.” It’s not just the obvious identity politics where craven political calculations are used to pick candidates of appropriate age/race/gender/class/shoe size. It has to do with Obama’s stance on using racism to correct racism.


That position was evident in Obama’s deliberate choice of Sotomayor who figured prominently in a major case of racial injustice. The case in question – Ricci v. DeStefano – involves 18 New Haven, Connecticut, firefighters who sued because they were blatantly discriminated against because of their race. The 17 white and one Hispanic firefighters took the lieutenant’s and captain’s exams and, when they did well and black firefighters did not, the city canceled the results. On appeal, our likely next Supreme Court “justice” ruled against the men even though the evidence was stacked on their side.


That, along with a few truly moronic statements by Sotomayor, has thrust her candidacy into the spotlight, and it was no accident.     


Obama has tried to look neutral on this issue as the Justice Department chimed in seemingly on both sides in what one lawyer told Newsweek was a “political straddle. “ Obama’s legal folks backed the city against the firefighters, but urged the case be sent back to the lower courts for reconsideration. It appeared he was trying to bury the issue.


That was a ruse.


Had Obama truly wanted to bury the issue, he wouldn’t have gone against one of his strongest bases of support – unions. The New Haven Firefighters Local 825 also sued the city to make the test count. The head of the New Haven Hispanic Firefighters Association called the city’s decision “a travesty.”


Had Obama truly wanted to bury the issue, he wouldn’t have chosen a justice with such an activist view of race-based government. In fact, Sotomayor believes more in the “empathy” that Obama was looking for than law itself.


“The law that lawyers practice and judges declare is not a definitive, capital ‘L’ law that many would like to think exists,” Sotomayor wrote in an article called “Returning Majesty to the Law and Politics: A Modern Approach.” Sotomayor’s “modern approach” essentially means judges get to do whatever they want.


In New Haven, that meant talented, skilled and knowledgeable firefighters weren’t promoted because Sotomayor and the city didn’t like the results.


I lived through this kind of promotion in my own home – watching my father take first one test and then another as he moved up the ranks of the Baltimore City Fire Department. Like the New Haven plaintiffs, my father studied countless hours at our kitchen table, reading book after book. Much like the New Haven firefighters who had to sue, my father was a true “fire buff” and focused his off hours reading “Firehouse” magazine and other publications. Had he been in New Haven, my father would have been denied his promotions.


Frank Ricci serves as the lead plaintiff for the 18 New Haven firefighters. Ricci is another one of those feel-good stories Obama should love. Ricci is dyslexic and spent $1,000 of his own money buying books and getting some texts recorded so he could study more effectively. He finished sixth out of 77 and earned promotion. But Ricci failed one test and one test only. In Obama’s “post-racial” world, Ricci was white.


That wasn’t good enough for the city. It wasn’t good enough for the courts. It wasn’t good enough for Sotomayor. And, unsurprisingly, it wasn’t good enough for Obama, who endorsed the whole Kafkaesque fiasco by picking Sotomayor.


On one hand we have 18 men who did everything their employer asked of them – denied the promotions they earned because of race-based thinking. On the other, we have the whole force of the United States government from New Haven, to the courts to the president deciding that race is more important than knowledge.


Picture yourself in a burning New Haven building, hoping desperately for rescue. Do you care about the race of the firefighters coming to your aid? No. Nor should you. You want the best, most knowledgeable men and women coming to help you. You don’t get that choice.


Ideally, what Obama’s election and Sotomayor’s selection should tell us is that anyone can do anything in America. But that’s not the case. What Obama is telling us and the media are ignoring is that the “post-racial” America is just as prejudiced. They’ve just created a whole new class of victims.


Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum and he can be seen each Thursday on Foxnews.com’s “Strategy Room.”