Ideology vs Pragmatism vs you and me: The US Supreme Court

Sonia SotomayorWith the pending retirement of US Supreme Court Associate Justice David Souter, a predictable media mini-circus (swine flu is the current circus) is opening up over it. Names are floated alongsides particular interests or so-called identity groups that would benefit or ‘like to see’ a certain candidate nominated. Care seems to be being taken to ensure it reads like every other very typical political script. A Latina is by definition progressive and will ‘satisfy’ Latin people, feminists and racial progressives generally. Specifically, Sonia Sotomayor is the Latina being suggested  as a likely Obama nominee. I will assume that since her name is appearing in major media that the Obama administration has suggested she is a frontrunner (it might be true or they might be trying to appear progressive according to the script).

Ethnic media outlet New America Media (NAM) is pushing the idea positively apparently for the simple reason that Sotomayor is of Puerto Rican descent, something we all should find highly dubious ever since that poor Black kid from Pin Point, Georgia arrived on the court almost 20 years ago and has voted with the right wing ever since. NAM supports the nomination writing that

Naming a Hispanic would soothe frayed nerves among Latino leaders

and approvingly of Sotomayor,

She is not an ideologue but has a pragmatic streak

I don’t think the NAM perspective is an isolated one. That pragmatism can be divorced from ideology is a curious notion. A pragmatic or practical way of looking at things within a highly ideological and extreme political context means that you aren’t interested in rocking the boat but going along to get along. I try to imagine a pragmatist in Stalin’s Russia, Hitler’s Germany or Benito Mussolini’s Italy. What does pragmatism mean in a country that leads the largest global wealth divide in human history? What does pragmatism look like in a country waging two imperialist hot wars and dozens of cold and covert wars? What is pragmatism in a country where children hide in the woods while their mothers and fathers are kidnapped off their jobs and ‘detained’? How to be pragmatic in a judicial system that imprisons five times as many Black men proportionally than did South Africa under apartheid? What does pragmatism look like on a court that last year ruled that it was okay for evidence obtained from an illegal arrest to be used against me? What is this non-ideological pragmatism? And is it what people of color need today? No less, should we consider it a victory if that is what we end up with on the Supreme Court? I can hardly think so. If Sotomayor or any pragmatic person of color ends up on the US Supreme Court, should Brown, Black, Red, and Yellow people celebrate?

Obama and the forces he represents (and those that still find themselves supporting him and those forces) would like to frame ideology as something to be avoided, as an obstacle to getting things done in Washington. In reality, extreme neoliberal ideology is behind everything that happens in DC and throughout most of this country. All the while claiming to be everything but ideological.

A Brown/Black/Red/Yellow, non-ideologue is the perfect tool of confusion for Obama and the billionaires whose interests he represents. Obama, of course is a perfect example of this kind of tool. As he gives millionaires and billionaires billions and trillions of dollars he is simultaneously juxtaposed next to Martin Luther King and Malcolm X on t-shirts. If that’s not confusion, nothing is.

To be clear, Sonia Sotomayor isn’t personally the problem. It’s just that under imperialism, to rise as high as she or Obama or anyone like them, you have to be pragmatic. You have to go along with the empire to get along with the empire. You have to be pragmatic.

We don’t need an appointee from Obama. We need a movement opposing the policies of Obama who watches while autoworkers get kicked out of their jobs and unto the streets of Detroit but trips over himself rushing to back trillions of dollars in loans to white guys that are already rich. We need a movement of revolutionary reality supplanting the hypnotic support of Barack Obama. We need it yesterday.

So no to Sotomayor, no to all appointees from the rich who make our lives miserable to begin with. They are the ones killing us, don’t count on them saving us.

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