“You’ll have lots of splaining to do…” Ricky Ricardo and Senator Corbourn
Dear All – This morning there was a protest in downtown Chicago against the Jewish United Fund. A group calling themselves “God Hates America” held signs in front of the Fund that read, “God Hates Jews,” “Fags Are Beasts,” “Jews Will Repent,” and “Obama is the Devil.”
They claim to be part of a separatist Baptist church that believes the bible instructs Christians to act against “inequities” and name the “devil” and his work. The connection they believe that exists between the Jewish community and the Gay community is that both are condemned in the Bible.
While on one hand this represents the fullness of our belief in the freedom of speech, it is always difficult to see that right utilized toward demeaning a people especially in the name of God.
I think it is often easy to dismiss groups like this. We feel uncomfortable with their message but assure ourselves that the majority would not share their view. They are extremists and a minority. Yet strangely they were reminding me of the Senators on the Judiciary Committee.
During the confirmation hearings of Judge Sonia Sotomayer for the Supreme Court, Republican Senators repeatedly couched their questions in references to her racial background. References that at best were inaccurate and at worst were racist.
For example, Senator Sessions asking her why she did not agree with a fellow judge who was Puerto Rican – seeing that they were both Puerto Rican should they not agree with one another automatically? Weirder was his insistence that by not agreeing with him she was being racist…against white males….even though who she disagreed with was Puerto Rican.
Or his companion Senator Corbourn who decided it was appropriate to imitate Ricky Ricardo when asking Judge Sotomayor a question. When questioning Judge Roberts for his appointment to the Supreme Court Senator Corbourn did not find it necessary to use any accents.
Not of course to be outdone by Pat Buchanan, Republican analyst, who urged the Senators to use the confirmation hearings as a way to incite anger among marginalized whites and use that energy to refuel the Republican base.
Extremists? A minority?
While not going as far as the group this morning protesting the Jewish Fund, the Republican reaction to Judge Sotomayor had echoes of “God Hates Jews”…namely that the person or persons is reduced to a single factor – his or her race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, etc.
This “factor,” like race, is then defined by the person doing the original reduction. For this morning’s protesters being Jewish or gay is being evil – for the Republicans being Latina means you are unable to see outside of the biases created by your race (not of course a problem they were having…ahem).
This reduction takes away the humanity of the person or persons and begins the slippery slope to believing as the Nazis did that they had not only the right but the duty to exterminate a whole people.
So while I want to dismiss this morning’s group and the Senators I cannot. I cannot because what is at risk is far too important. For what is at risk is human life, dignity and security. Should anyone have to live in fear based on their gender, sexual orientation, race or religion?
Let us draw hope and strength from the reality of our first African American President and first (hopefully) Latina Supreme Court Justice. Those are openings that shift the landscape that believes “God Hates Jews” but also let us remain clear that we have a long way to go before we will not have a corner covered in signs that demean and dismiss.