Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Sonia Sotomayor’s Nomination: A Justice Fast tracked!

I am extremely excited with the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor as a candidate for the Supreme Court of the United States of America by President Barack Obama. This could not have come at any other time than this time bearing in mind the need to placate all the groups that have been sinned against in one way or the other in the United States.

For a long time, America has been pretending to be a champion of democracy while at its own backyard a lot of atrocities not in conformity with the spirit of democracy are taking place. America has condoned racism to the level where blacks are dealt with in ways and manner that contravenes all instruments of human rights including the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights especially Article 20 of the instrument.

Blacks in America were singled out for all forms of victimisation. There were denied jobs, equality, transportation, education, healthcare including the freedom to associate, hold opinion, choose a religion and live a decent life. Many of them were falsely accused and imprisoned over phantom allegations. Many prisons in the United States especially San Quentin in California bears witness to all these atrocities suffered by the African Americans.

The trend continues to the extent that the number of Africa Americans in the United States Prisons is already at the level of scandal leaving one to ask why the proportion of African Americans in the prison is very huge and monumental compared to other ethnic groups.

The sins against the African Americans reached an unbearable stage in the 1950s and 1960s which resulted to a black revolution that ushered in that great period of human rights movement that produced the likes of Martin Luther Kings Jnr, Reverend Jesse Jackson and many others; too numerous I cannot mention all of them here.

The heat and momentum of this human rights movement and the brutal assassination of Martin Luther King Jnr, touched the heart of many Americans and made them to wonder aloud the rationale behind the ill-treatment of their black brethren. The result of this, is what Africa Americans are enjoying today in terms of equality and freedom which their fathers never had the opportunity to enjoy. The election of Barack Obama is one of the fruits of this agitation and revolution.

However it is not yet uhuru for African Americans. Despite all these human right achievements, the poverty gap between whites and African Americans continues to widen. Whites are getting ever richer compared to the blacks. A promotion for a white staff is highly likely while for the blacks they have to go through numerous hurdles to make it. The summary is that despite all these struggles blacks are yet to achieve that equality with their white counter parts.

But compared with other ethnic minorities, the African Americans have still something to rejoice and write home about. The Native Americans have been through hell ever since the Christopher Columbus discovery of America; and if the Native Americans have been through hell, words cannot describe the agony and trauma facing the Hispanics in America today. This is worrisome bearing in mind the role America is playing lately as the custodian of democracy.

Lately the Hispanics have been victims of stereotype and profiling orchestrated by the American establishments right from the Customs to the police and to the immigration. In fact, lately they have been the target of a nationwide raid and clampdown on illegal immigration. The story of the small town of Postville in Iowa is still fresh in the mind of Americans.

The Hispanic families are being targeted and rounded up in various cities of the United States without due regard to their fundamental human rights and in a clear contravention of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Mothers are being separated from their children and deported while husbands are left with agony of seeing their wives publicly humiliated and deported. In most cases because any child born in the United States is automatically an America, parents are deported leaving the children behind. In no other time in history have we seen such a mass deportation in this scale than during the Nazi era under Adolf Hitler.

It is against this backdrop then that the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor should be welcomed as a very good development. This is the first time a Hispanic is being nominated and if the Republican are going to set aside their bitter and partisan politics, she would be the first Hispanic to be a Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

Why this appointment is very remarkable is not only because Sotomayor is a woman, I think it has more to do with the fact that she is from the minority and having experienced the downside of life peculiar to the minorities, she is no less qualified to occupy this position at this point in time than any other person.

America has done a lot of injustices to its own people and the world in general. The war in Iraq is still not yet justified and therefore the appointment of somebody who is from within the main fold would have been seen as the continuation of the injustice. As expected, the nomination has met with some oppositions; all of them coming from the Republicans who are yet to come to terms with the fact that the era of Bush and his deception is over.

Sotomayor is being particularly probed and opposed for a statement she made some years ago arguing that a Latino woman like her is no less capable of making a wiser decision compared to his male white counterpart if her difficult upbringing is put into consideration.

According to Sotomayor, "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."

Sotomayor is never a racist and if a serious mind analyse the above statement, she is never. She was only wisely reasoning that because of her difficult upbringing, she was able to experience first hand unlike most of her colleagues, what it means to be a poor and disadvantaged American and therefore concluded that her experience could be a huge plus for her in making better decision and judgements in the court. This is a portion the Republicans and friends have been highlighting and criticising since the nomination.

But the fact is that the phrase actually summarised Sotomayor as a very hardworking and focused Judge who is really and frankly in touch with the common people. The fact that she was able to make reference to her difficult upbringing is a fact that she is not going to be dogmatic and legalistic in her judgments. She is more likely to tamper justice with mercy and this is what is urgently required in law. Every man deserves mercy and second chance.

It is therefore with this scenario in mind that I call upon the Republicans to cast aside their partisan politics and embrace the ideals and unique talent Sotomayor is going to introduce into the Supreme Court of the United States of America. I am very flabbergasted that the Republican Party, despite the monumental damage they have done to the image of the United States of America, her relationship with the Muslim world and the world in general, still have the effrontery to accuse Sonia Sotomayor of being a racist for being candid and frank in her speech.

I would have thought that the Republicans instead of making more trouble and being obstacle to the good and damage-control work being done by President Barack Obama, should have devoted more of their time and energy in doing penance over their sins. There is nothing wrong with the statement made by Sotomayor. She was being frank, honest and circumstantial in what she said and that is what is expected from a person who is going to sit in the Supreme Court of the United States of America. Republicans should get their life and stop argumentum ad hominem.

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