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August 14, 2010

Confiming History

One thing that I've noted with interest about Elena Kagan's confirmation as a Supreme Court Justice is how all of the mainstream media coverage about the subject mentions how this is an unprecedented historical event because Justice Kagan is a woman. Apparently making history by any means possible is much more important than the fact that she has never, ever, been a judge. It's also, one might conclude from these stories, more important than her position on various issues, or how many cases she will have to recuse herself from because of her previous work, or how she regards the Constitution. Presumably these news stories are trying to build on the momentum of their stories from 2008, in which they trumpeted the election of President Obama, an event which was regarded as historical because of the color of his skin.

When did making history become more important than choosing honest and just public officials?

We are betraying Dr. King's vision if we focus our attention on the historicity of choosing public officials, or, and I hope this is not the case, choose our candidates because of their gender or the color of their skin. If we really are going to become a "post-race" society, if we really are going to fulfill his dream, then we've got to stop trumpeting how historical this or that appointment is because a person from a minority is appointed. We've got to do what Dr. King told us to do and look at the content of character in a person, instead of whether that person is male or female, of one skin tone or another.

When we do that, we'll pick the right people for the job - the people with integrity and experience. Some will come from one background, others from another, and some from very mixed backgrounds, but we won't notice that, because we'll be fixed on issues of truth and of policy. It's time that our news media, and we the people whom the media reports to, started focusing on that rather than on whether or not a person is at this fleeting moment in time deemed historical.

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