You know it's taken a turn for the surreal when an obnoxious lout like William Gheen is calling you a racist. Gheen is a nasty piece of work, the founder of the extremist nativist Americans for Legal Immigration PAC, which is headquartered in Raleigh, NC, burial place of Senator Jesse Helms and the Republican Party's Southern strategy. (NB: Conservative North Carolina went blue in the 2008, giving all 15 of its electoral votes to Barack Obama.) His inflammatory rhetoric has been denounced by both the Anti-Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Basically this plump, prejudiced bully-boy bashes brown folk every chance he gets. And why not? It's how he earns his salary. And the more extreme his verbiage, the more ALIPAC stands to gain in donations. The SPLC offers this quote from Gheen: "Call me old fashioned, but people should be able to shop at Wal-Mart without worrying about catching [t]uberculosis." And the ADL quotes Gheen as stating that, "...Americans are the Jews and the illegal aliens and their supporters are the Nazis."
So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the irony-deficient Gheen would send out a mass e-mail accusing Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor of being a racist, and doing so in language that literally drips with hostility towards Hispanics. In my in-box Thursday, was the following missive from the Gheenster, under the hilarious header, "ALIPAC Opposes Hispanic Supremacy on Supreme Court":
"ALIPAC is launching a national campaign today to oppose President Obama's nominee for the US Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor because of her racist comments and her membership in a racist organization called `The Race.'
"`The US Supreme Court is no place for brown or Hispanic supremacists like Sonia Sotomayor,' said William Gheen President of ALIPAC. `We hope the US Senate will reject this overt attempt by the Obama administration to put a woman with racist views and affiliations in a seat of power over all Americans.'
"Stomayor [sic] is a member of an organization that many Americans consider racist called the National Council of La Raza (NCLR). La Raza means `The Race' and the NCLR makes it clear that the group considers Hispanics to be a race. The NCLR seeks to promote political agendas they consider to be advantageous to their `race' regardless of the negative impacts on other ethnic groups or existing principles and laws in the United States.
"`We oppose Sonia Sotomayor because of her racist comments and group memberships,' said William Gheen. `We also oppose her because she supports racist groups like La Raza which supports Amnesty, welfare benefits, in-state tuition, and licenses for illegal aliens.'
"ALIPAC is launching a media campaign and calling on the groups network [sic] of over 25,000 supporters to contact members of the US Senate to try and stop the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the US Supreme Court."
Now, this stuff about "racists groups like La Raza" is so ludicrous as to make you want to measure the skull of any Cro-Magnon who slobbers it forth. Calling La Raza racist is like calling the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People racist, or calling the Knights of Columbus an anti-Protestant organization. It's way-dumb, and purposefully ignores the history of such organizations, which have historically assisted members of certain groups that have had to battle poverty and discrimination.
Indeed, Gheen reminds me of the Ku Klux Klan members in the North Carolina where I was raised, who would ridicule ads for the United Negro College Fund, and say, "Why ain't there no United Caucasian College Fund?" To which, I would reply, "Duh, because whites didn't experience 400 years of slavery on this continent, you moron." (Sadly, growing up in the Tar Heel State forced me to rub elbows with such imbeciles, just as now I have to dodge the spittle of the nitwit nativists that are so plentiful here in Sand Land.)
Gheen's not the only one on this bandwagon, of course. Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, and all of their intellectual soul mates on the white supremacist message board stormfront.org are down on Sotomayor, referring to her, hysterically, as a racist.
"They all have flat out called her a racists [sic] and have called her out on statements she has made in the past," states Stormfronter "Star Gazer" of various media talking heads. "They have all talked about the double standard of her comments as well, which to me is encouraging."
"Another hater of White males is elevated to the top," writes the paranoid "Huginn ok Muninn."
Such relatively civil, though whack, comments share space with filth like, "[Sotomayor's] a mud person. This is not my country anymore. I can not say the USA is in MY best interests when MY white skin obviously does not matter ONE IOTA to the nig in chief," written by MKAYULTRA.
Or this bit of drivel from EASTCOAST WARRIOR, "Out with the whites and in with the blacks. If ti [sic] ain't black, it's brown, or yellow, but you can be sure that by the time he's done appointing all the new turds, all the whites will be eventually evicted."
Locally, the nativist nimrods of United for a Sovereign America are sniffing from the same rusty tailpipe, posting perfervid articles by the wing-nutty cranks at WorldNetDaily.com implying Sotomayor's an anti-whitebread racist because of this one quote, taken out of context and stretched to its breaking point:
"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."
This, supposedly, sums up all the fears of crazed crackers from sea to shining sea. Never mind that in this old speech from Sotomayor's 2001 address at Berkeley Law School, she offered a nuanced, complex argument for a more diverse judiciary -- the real idea that scares the pants off some white males. For they see increasing diversity on the Supreme Court and other courts as a further threat to their crumbling hegemony.
Read the speech and you'll find that Sotomayor sees both sides of the argument concerning the impact of diversity on the law, yet she comes down on the side of diversity being a net positive and something that should be nurtured and encouraged if we are to have a more civil and just society.
"No one person, judge or nominee will speak in a female or people of color voice," she stated at one point in her speech. "I need not remind you that Justice Clarence Thomas represents a part but not the whole of African-American thought on many subjects."
Then later, she pointed out that,
"The aspiration to impartiality is just that--it's an aspiration because it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different choices than others. Not all women or people of color, in all or some circumstances or indeed in any particular case or circumstance but enough people of color in enough cases, will make a difference in the process of judging."
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"However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Others simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench."
Ultimately, this just seems like common sense. We are all "colored" by our experiences, whether we like it or not, just as we are influenced by the times we live in, and the education we have received. For racists to brand an accomplished, educated and "wise" Latina woman as racist is a product of these individuals' limitations and fears, not a reflection of reality.
At least that's the case on stormfront.org, where the racism is honest if not brave (few real names, natch). As for the likes of Gheen and Gingrich and Limbaugh, their opinions are all about advancing their careers, making money, or simply drawing a paycheck, as is the case with Mr. Gheen. The day Gheen ceases flapping his lips and deriding brown folk is the day he'll have to hunt for a real job.