8 Asians

At his best, Stephen Colbert is brilliant, and this past week, The Colbert Report had a brilliant “The Word” segment- “Neutral Man’s Burden” – a play on the phrase “White Man’s Burden.”

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, this past week was the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, potentially the first Hispanic American Supreme Court justice. Republican senators were questioning Sotomayor and taking a lot of her “controversial” comments of “Wise Latina” out of context, despite the fact that Republican appointed nominees such as Justice Alito have made similar comments in the past about how one’s background and upbringing shapes one’s views in life (no duh. Humans are not robots.)

This got me to thinking about what kind of confirmation hearing we would see if an Asian American was nominated to the Supreme Court and what “biases” would be projected on that nominee, which is why I thought Colbert’s segment was brilliant. Cobert asked:

“In America, white is neutral … The personal backgrounds [of Supreme Court justices] had nothing to do with the all neutral [white] court’s decision that it was legal to send Japanese Americans to internment camps in 1942. Imagine how the life experiences of an Asian judge would have sullied that neutrality.”

Yes, imagine indeed if there was a Japanese American Supreme Court justice in 1944 when Korematsu v. United States was decided, which validated the United States government of interning Japanese Americans. Cobert’s comments also reminded me of an earlier posting of mine where all Americans, including Asian Americans, subconsciously expect business leaders to be white. Let’s hope that if an Asian American is nominated to the Supreme Court, that nominee will be given more respect during the nomination process.

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