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The Sotomayor Nomination: More Glimpses of Jewish Activism — and a Warning to Republicans 

Kevin MacDonald 

May 28, 2009 

The campaign by some Jews with access to the media to get Elena Kagan nominated for the soon-to-be vacant Supreme Court position failed —but will probably be resurrected the next time around. VDARE.com’s Patrick Cleburne has also noted the Jewish angle to the pro-Kagan campaign — suggesting that the article by Jeffrey Rosen questioning Sotomayor’s intellectual qualifications was really an attempt to promote Kagan by default. In a follow-up article, Rosen stressed the need for the next Supreme Court nominee to be “not merely impressive but absolutely stellar.”  

You can see where this is going: Kagan = brilliant — despite her less than lackluster record of academic scholarship en route to the most prestigious position in legal academia.  

Writing in the LA Times, David Greenberg does his part, describing Elena Kagan as “manifestly brilliant,” and also agreeing with Cleburne that criticisms of Sotomayor were motivated by the desire to promote people like Kagan.  

Of course, Jews need not fear that Sotomayor would disappoint them in her voting. Representatives of Jewish groups were actively involved in consulting about the nomination. And even though they may have preferred Kagan, they doubtless had no objections to Sotomayor.  

Gary McCoy Cartoon 

Indeed, Sotomayor has long been courted by Jewish groups. Part of the full court press style of Jewish activism is that any person who is influential or who may at some point in the future become influential will be socialized to be sensitive to Jewish issues. And they will be scrutinized in the process, so that when the time comes, Jews can be confident that people of influence will be on board with their concerns. 

In 1986 Sotomayor was invited to participate in Project Interchange, an undertaking of the American Jewish Committee aimed at providing “current and emerging United States and international leaders with an enhanced understanding of, and perspective on, Israel and the pursuit of Middle East peace through introductory educational seminars in Israel” (links in original). The people invited on these junkets are quite diverse — including members of the US military, editors of student newspapers in American universities, presidents and chancellors of American universities, French Muslim civic leaders, Pentacostal Latino clergy, and Indian-Americans.

The only thing they have in common is that at some point they may be able to influence policy toward issues important to the organized Jewish community, even if that time is a long way in the future.  

Project Interchange isn’t the only such organization. The Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs has long promoted ties between the US and Israeli military establishments. JINSA pays for trips to Israel for retired U.S. generals and admirals who then write op-ed pieces and sign letters and advertisements championing the Likudnik line. JINSA also has programs for sending US law enforcement personnel to Israel and for providing speakers at US military academies. 

Since her 1986 visit to Israel, Sotomayor visited Israel again in 1996 and participated in a recent U.S.-Israel forum on immigration. She is also close friends with Project Interchange founder Debbie Berger and her husband, Paul.  

Such courting of future leaders is doubtless an important aspect of Jewish activism. Whenever someone is mentioned for high office, Jewish newspapers report on his or her Jewish connections. In effect, there is a vetting process based on issues of importance to the Jewish community. And a critical part of that process is first hand, face-to-face relationships with Jews who are well-known and trusted by the wider Jewish community.  In effect, Debbie and Paul Berger are vouching for Sonia Sotomayor.  

The JTA article “Life story, trips to Israel tie Sotomayor to Jews” is also of interest because it sheds light on how Jews think of themselves and their role in ethnic politics in America.

The story of her life — the daughter of a Puerto Rican single mother from the Bronx, N.Y., whose ambitions knew no bounds — resounded with a community that has made the story of immigrant triumph over struggle a template of Jewish American success.

"It was impossible not to moved by her personal story," said Mark Pelavin, the associate director of the Reform movement's Religious Action Center. "To see her mother sitting there and think about what this says about her and her country -- the combination of someone who grew up in a housing project, who has been on the bench for a long time, but who has been a prosecutor as well, that combination is very powerful."

"It was thrilling," said Sammie Moshenberg, the Washington director of the National Council of Jewish Women.

These comments are quite similar to what Jews say when asked about why they support African Americans. As noted by historian Hasia Diner, Jews “believe that Jewish concern for black people was ‘natural,’ growing out of parallel experiences of suffering and oppression.”  

There is an element of self-deception in this. The Jewish rise from immigrant poverty to elite status has virtually nothing in common with the rise of people like Sotomayor who are the beneficiaries of the post-1960s affirmative action culture of America. Whatever Jewish self conceptions of their role in American ethnic politics, the only consistent thread has been to oppose the interests of the White, European-derived majority. In addition to favoring massive non-White immigration and promoting programs that pathologize White identity and interests, making alliances with other minority groups has been a critically important part of that effort.

The main Jewish organizations taking a leadership role in building alliances with non-White groups are the American Jewish Committee, the Jewish Community Council of Greater Washington, and the Foundation for Ethnic Understanding. For example, the FFEU was cofounded by Rabbi Marc Schneier, president of the North American Boards of Rabbis; Russell Simmons of hip hop fame is the Chairman of the Board of Directors. The FFEU is closely tied to the World Jewish Congress, which cosponsors the Foundation’s Washington, DC office and several of its programs.  

These Jewish organizations have sought close relationships with Latino organizations such as the National Council of La Raza and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC). For example, one project of the FFEU is to organize an annual meeting of the NAACP, the National Council of La Raza, the World Jewish Congress, and the National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium.  

Quite clearly the various non-European ethnic groups are developing close ties, and Jewish organizations are taking the lead in this effort. As Paul Gottfried said about minority groups opposing dominant cultures (and I agreed), it’s not that Jews are unique in playing this game. They are just better at it than others. 

I point out this rich tapestry of Jewish ethnic activism to give some idea of what those who advocate for White identity and interests are up against. Like the Obama presidency, the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor is exactly the sort of thing favored by the activist Jewish community because it is yet another marker in the march toward the dispossession of Whites in America.  

Finally, it’s interesting that the standard line from some party strategists is that Republicans need to be very cautious in their opposition to Sotomayor because Latinos are an emerging political force. Of course, this is the same advice that these strategists give on immigration: Don’t do anything to anger the Latinos.  

But of course, the reality is that Latinos are never going to be attracted to a Republican Party that is in any sense conservative, much less oriented to the interests of Whites in a way that is comparable to how the Democratic Party is oriented to the interests of non-Whites. Polls in California show that Latinos favor high levels of government services and are willing to raise taxes to get them. California is now in a historic budget crisis in which government services to its ever-expanding population of poor and uneducated — fueled massively by legal and illegal immigration — simply cannot be sustained without huge increases in taxes. But massive tax increases will drive out businesses and White taxpayers in droves — indeed they have already done so.

White people might well be willing to pay higher taxes if the beneficiaries were people like themselves. But most Whites are not going to vote for higher taxes when the main beneficiaries are Latinos and other non-White poor — a straightforward result of our evolutionary psychology, as Frank Salter (see also here) and J. Philippe Rushton have shown. Instead, Whites voted overwhelmingly for a ballot proposition that would have denied services to illegal immigrants — only to be thwarted by the courts and other political elites.

Like all the great social trends, the Third Worldization of America begins in California.  

A far better strategy for Republicans is to realize that their only long term hope is to become a party that explicitly (or at least implicitly) favors White people and their interests. A critical part of that process is to acknowledge that ethnic identity politics is not just for people like Sotomayor (who is a member of La Raza), Obama, and the Democratic Party. 

Nate Beeler Cartoon

Sotomayor is quite blunt about the role of ethnic identity in influencing judicial temperament, famously stating “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." This is from someone who owes pretty much her whole career to her ethnic identity and the willingness of American elites to ease her path into Princeton, Yale Law, the Circuit Court of Appeals, and now the Supreme Court of the United States.  

We have to adopt the same explicit sense of White identity and interests. The Republicans seem bent on committing suicide rather than abandoning their principled hostility to ethnic identity politics for Whites. But, as Peter Brimelow notes, if that is the policy of the Republican Party, another party must and will be formed that do exactly that.

Kevin MacDonald is a professor of psychology at California State University–Long Beach.  Email him.

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