Yesterday, Sullivan wrote that Judge Sotomayor's "constant, oppressive consciousness of her identity - racial and gender - and the harping on it so aggressively so often does strike me as a classic mode of victimology deeply entrenched in her generation." A few readers correctly pointed out that it isn't Sotomayor's harping on race that we've been hearing about insomuch as its the racist Latina characterization by Republicans that has become a central theme during her confirmation. But Sullivan's response to his readers isn't satisfactory:
The distinction I draw is the distinction made in Virtually Normal. I do not consider myself better than anyone because I'm gay; I do not think gay people have some superior wisdom; I seek civil equality so the sharp division between homosexuality and heterosexuality can eventually be elided. I've never shied from being honest or talking and writing about being gay, but I hope the goal of all of it is to move beyond the reductionism of the victimology of the left, not to entrench it. If Sotomayor had written an essay called "The End Of Latino Culture" or had written of the day she hopes Latino-specific political organizations disappear, I'd feel differently about her non-judicial record.
Sullivan makes a fair argument about our culture of victimization, but in the context of Sotomayor's comments, I think he misses the mark. Sotomayor's "wise Latina" remark carried with it the view that she has the potential to have better judgment on issues involving race and gender because, as a minority, she understands how the law effects the disenfranchised. And so I wonder if Sullivan, as a gay man, feels that he has the potential to exercise better judgment than a straight man otherwise might on issues that involve gay rights/gay marriage/the HIV travel ban, etc.?