This is a guest post by Emily Cutts, TC Jewfolk intern and University of MN senior.
Pat Buchanan, a conservative politician, commentator and author, recently wrote a piece titled Are liberals anti-WASP? about diversity on the Supreme Court. He stated:
“If Kagan is confirmed, Jews, who represent less than 2 percent of the U.S. population, will have 33 percent of the Supreme Court seats.”
This comment has the National Jewish Democratic Council petitioning for the Creators Syndicate to drop his column. Although the NJDC chose to focus on the first comment Buchanan made about Jews, he does mention the tribe a second time in the article. He continued:
“If Kagan is confirmed, the Court will consist of three Jews and six Catholics (who represent not quite a fourth of the country), but not a single Protestant, though Protestants remain half the nation and our founding faith.”
Buchanan’s comments were not only offensive to Jews but also to other minorities. Many bloggers have expressed their anger towards his comments. Chris Weigant wrote on the Huffington Post that while Buchanan’s comments were a prime example of bigotry, he is not the only one. “But ignoring [religion] altogether, and watching media types and politicians pat themselves on the back for stating that “religion is simply not a consideration” means that this hypocrisy and bigotry will continue.”
Religion is a consideration for most people who consider themselves even mildly religious. Religions come with a set of morals, beliefs and practices and while you may not follow all of them they still shape you. So while Elena Kagan’s religion should not be what the nomination or decision is based on, it is not unreasonable for it to be mentioned.
What is unreasonable is to mask anti-Semitism, or more generally racism, as a concern for diversity.
Keli Goff, an author, commentator and contributor to TheLoop21.com wrote “Pat uses the guise of spirited intellectual debate to couch ideas that in any dinner party conversation would be viewed as anti-Semitic, plain and simple.” She compares Buchanan to shock jockey Don Imus and his infamous comment about the Rutgers women’s basketball team. She asks “…why is a major network continuing to provide a paying platform for someone engaged in hate speech?”
This is a reasonable question. Imus was punished for his racist remarks yet Buchanan continues to make hateful comments not only against Jews but all minorities. In comparison, his most recent comment is the least offensive but possibly more harmful because it disguises racism as fact. Yet his argument about diversity is flawed.
Buchanan argues that the Democrat’s Supreme Court nominations have lacked diversity because the justices have been from New York and some of them were Jewish. He then states that Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush were diverse in their nominations. A quick breakdown shows that Reagan appointed two male Ivy League graduates; H.W. appointed two male Ivy League graduates and finally W. appointed a female and again, two male Ivy League graduates. It seems that Buchanan’s closing statement “Conservatives will not soon get another opportunity like this to take down Ivy League pretensions to represent and rule America,” is a little ill-informed. But, yes, it can be said that these Justices were religiously diverse, although in a country that values the separation of Church and State it is odd that diversity is based on religion.
Ultimately, I think that this means only minor things for the Jewish people. We can add another person to the list of people who don’t like Jews and we are yet again reminded that we live in a country (and world) where there are people who do not like us. Luckily this is true for almost anyone.