Big-time bigotry

Thomas Sowell
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Posted: May 20, 2005 12:00 AM

Maybe the non-stop denunciations of judicial nominees by Senate Democrats will seem relevant to some people but it is in fact wholly beside the point. Senators who don't like any particular judicial nominee -- or any nominee for any other federal appointment -- have a right to vote against that nominee for any reason or for no reason.

 That right has never been in question during the more than two centuries since it was conferred by the Constitution of the United States. So all this unending talk about what Senate Democrats don't like about Justice Priscilla Owen of the Texas supreme court or Justice Janice Rogers Brown of the California supreme court is completely irrelevant. Senators who don't like them can vote against them.

 The real issue is whether those Senators have the right to deprive all other Senators of the right to vote on these nominees. Nothing that is said for or against Justice Owen or Justice Brown has any relevance to the issue of some Senators denying other Senators the right to vote.

 The essence of bigotry is denying other people the same rights you have. For generations, it was racial bigotry which provoked filibusters to prevent the Senate from voting on bills to extend civil rights to blacks. But bigotry is bigotry, whether it is racial bigotry, religious bigotry or political bigotry.

 People who say that the right of unlimited debate in the Senate "has served this country well" can seldom, if ever, point to any specific benefit that has come from any specific filibuster.

 The detriment includes years of denying equal rights to minorities, when the majority of the people in this country were ready to grant equal rights but Southern Democrats prevented the Senate from carrying out the will of the majority by preventing other Senators from voting.

 Although this was the bigotry of the right, the bigotry of the left has since become pervasive, not just in politics but also in our educational system and in much of the media. Again and again, the left has claimed rights for itself that it denies to others.

 Schools and colleges that bombard students with propaganda in favor of homosexuality often stifle any contrary views with rules against "hate speech" that prevent any criticism of either homosexuality itself or the policies advocated by gay activists.

 Environmentalists who are against development think their views on this subject are a sufficient reason for unelected zoning boards and planning commissions to prevent other people from building homes or offices, even though there would not be any issue unless other people thought otherwise.

 Indeed, the left in general has increasingly favored unelected institutions which impose their views, whether the federal courts, environmental agencies, or such national bureaucracies as the National Park Service or international agencies like the United Nations or the International Court of Justice at the Hague.

 The left has for decades condoned or "understood" riots and violence that fit the vision of the left and even condemned police action to restore order and the rights of other people to go about their business unmolested. The New York Times published a sympathetic account of one of our domestic left-wing terrorists on the very day when international terrorists attacked the World Trade Center. Violence is of course the ultimate in imposing your views on others by forcibly over-riding their views.

 Although scholarship is supposed to be the search for truth, there is no need to search for truth when you are dogmatically certain that you have already found it. That is too often the mindset of the left in academia, where contrary views are penalized by restrictive speech codes and faculty hiring decisions include ideological litmus tests, while even visiting public speakers are limited to those acceptable to the left.

 Ideological bigotry has become the norm on even our most prestigious campuses, where students can go for years without reading or hearing anything that challenges the left vision.

 The ideological bigotry of the left is currently holding center stage in the United States Senate, where those who favor one view of judicial nominees argue as if that view justifies preventing Senators with other views from voting.