Wednesday, July 15, 2009


Reading is Fun-damental, as a Saturday morning literacy slogan stated in the '70s, but only if you read all the words. As Republicans on the Senate Judicial Committee chew furiously on Sotomayor's "Wise Latina" quote - referring to it in similar shorthand - they reveal either their intellectual dishonesty or their inability to recognize the meanings of words. 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 [as a judge] than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

"I would hope" doesn't mean "I believe," and to assert that it does radically reconstructs what she said. I would hope that eating as I eat and exercising as little as I exercise will lead to weight loss, but I don't expect that to happen. I would hope that my experience as a writer makes me a good editor of others' writing, and that might or might not be true. But these statements reflect my desires - in the latter case, related what I hope is true but can't be sure. It's reasonable and just as self-flattering as those senators who'd like to believe that their white male-ness gives them a special awareness of America's social mainstream, even though whites and males no longer dominate either numerically.

But this comes as no surprise. Too often, Conservatives seem to overlook the basic notion that reading is the act of interpretation, asserting that their understanding of law and the Constitution is right and the Liberal understanding is a matter of interpretation. Their inability to account for all the words in one 31-word sentence suggests only the most superficial problem with that belief.

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