Saturday, September 27, 2008

Superb Article Examining Sarah Palin in the Lense of Clarence Thomas

Dahlia Lithwick wrote a surprising and well composed piece for Slate. Through the two fine examples of Clarence Thomas and Sarah Palin, Lithwick utilizes Thomas's language of "beneficiaries" to re-examine affirmative action and its results. She nearly brings herself to excoriating 'liberals' (of which she is in many ways a self-identified member) away from a knee-jerk acceptance. The piece is provocative, thoughtful and careful:
Critics have scoffed at Thomas' tendency to view affirmative action exclusively through the narrow lens of his own life, but it's clear the "badge of inferiority" has tainted a lifetime of enormous achievement. He will never forgive America for the chances he was given, or for how small it has made him feel.

Like Thomas, Palin has been blasted for inexperience, and she has fought back with claims that she is not being judged on her merits, but on her gender, just as he felt he was inevitably judged on his race. While it's possible to assert that Sarah Palin is the most qualified person in America for the vice presidency, only approximately nine people have done so with a straight face.

Liberals inclined to blindly support affirmative action would do well to contemplate the lessons of Sarah Palin and Clarence Thomas. Although the former exudes unflagging self-confidence and the latter may always be crippled by self-doubt, both have become nearly frozen in a defensive crouch, casualties of an effort to create an America in which diversity is measured solely in terms of appearance.

1 comment:

  1. As for Palin and affirmative action, raise your hand if you think she would be governor of Alaska if she looked like, say, Golda Meir. Effortless self-confidence is the birthright of those who, because they are possessed of physical gifts, are greeted in life with smiles. Madeline Albright and Richard Nixon had to work harder; and probably, so did Justice Thomas. As Jack Kennedy said, "Life is unfair." Affirmative action is just one attempt to address that; and like all attempts to contravene human nature at its best or its worst, it only works sometimes.


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