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Why are they so scared?

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, July 15, 2009 13:36 EDT
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Via Atrios, Craig Crawford shoots and scores, when discussing the reprehensible behavior of Senate Republicans towards Sonia Sotomayor, particularly Lindsay Graham’s.

They are coming across as a bunch of snarky and bitter old white men who cannot bear the thought of their kind losing power.

Well, exactly. It’s hard to hide and may actually win major awards in the category of Incredibly Fucking Obvious. It’s really hard to spin the paranoia and bitterness any other way. But as usual with this blog, the question is a simple, “Why?”

When I see this seething fear and anger on the part of the bitter old white men that make up the vast majority of the Republican party, I’m honestly confused. Who the fuck actually thinks that Barack Obama or Sonia Sotomayor’s ascent means that there won’t be plenty of room for old white men at the hands of power, too much room really? More to the point, what do these old white men get out of protecting the privilege of old white men so fiercely? Senator Graham and Senator Sessions clearly think that Sotomayor is sitting in a chair they believe belongs to a white man, but what I fail to understand is why they give a fuck. (Or fail to understand for rhetorical purposes; believe me, I have my theories.) That Sotomayor instead of old white dude Democrat is taking this spot on the bench doesn’t change the worlds of Sessions or Graham. Sotomayor isn’t going for their particular jobs. She is no threat whatsoever. There’s no personal threat to their individual privilege that comes from treating Sotomayor with respect.

Their strident panic attack about the possibility that non-white people or women will gain some seats of power is a much different thing than the sort of group advocacy of anti-racist or feminist activists, for a very simple reason. We applaud the rise of people that aren’t straight white men to power because actual obstacles are being diminished every time this happens. Because there are external obstacles between smart, ambitious women and minorities and the reins of power. Call it the glass ceiling or discrimination or any of these words, but it’s there. But no matter how many Sotomayors or Obamas rise to power, no one is going to start putting up obstacles between straight white men and power. Straight white men will never have to face having their gender or race be used to stereotype them and squeeze them out unfairly. Giving other people the same opportunities to prove themselves that straight white men enjoy doesn’t diminish the benefit of the doubt that straight white men get automatically. Sotomayor’s confirmation doesn’t mean that any straight white man looking to get a seat on the Supreme Court is suddenly going to be held accountable for stereotypes of his race and gender. No one’s going to accuse him of being too masculine, or suggest that uptight WASPness means his temperament is questionable.

Luckily, last night I mentioned to Marc all the tweeps yesterday praising Sotomayor’s calmness in the face of the bullshit, and he laughed and pointed out that she can run laps around these dumb fuck red state white dude Senators. And of course he’s right. First of all, being a judge and being a Senator, particularly from a Bible-thumping district, have much different intelligence and temperament requirements. Being a judge requires that you have the intelligence and temperament to handle the jargon-laden, complex, argumentative courtroom. This goes quadruple for anyone facing as many obstacles as Sotomayor has over her lifetime. But being a Senator from South Carolina or Alabama is simple for any hot-tempered, slow-witted dumbfuck, if he can thump the Bible hard enough and allow himself to be schmoozed by lobbyists with the greatest of ease. In fact, intelligence and definitely thoughtfulness are drawbacks, because these qualities might contain some of your more outrageously hateful actions.

Oh yeah, and if he’s a straight white male. That’s mandatory for the position of Senator in many states, still. But if you think about that, it becomes clear what privilege that the bitter old white men are defending: the privilege of dumbfucks to trade in on being straight white males to be powerful and rich without ever having to learn how to think or develop reasonable social skills outside of schmoozing. No wonder empathy turned into such a dirty word! Empathy is some complicated stuff. It requires imagination, feeling, understanding that other people are real, and intelligence—all qualities that seem like onerous burdens for white men to have to develop if they want to stay competitive, at least in the eyes of the dumbfucks that hold Senate seats for some of your lousier red states.

The rise of individuals like Obama and Sotomayor aren’t a threat to straight white men of intelligence and thoughtfulness who are qualified for the jobs they seek. But yeah, I can say that power-sharing means that barking morons like Sessions and Graham need to start sweating. Being good enough to do your damn job is indeed an enormous obstacle for them in keeping their jobs, one that they hope to stave off by throwing loud, dramatic temper tantrums any time qualified people that fall out of the narrow straight white dude band vie for powerful jobs.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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