Tuesday, June 9, 2009

time out of joint

Grand Watchmaker - and New York Times' Holiday Party "Roundest Glasses on Staff" award winner, 8 years running - David Brooks uncorks this magical statement to open his latest column:

Sonia Sotomayor had bad timing. If she’d entered college in the late-1950s or early-1960s, she would have been surrounded by an ethos that encouraged smart young ethnic kids to assimilate. If she’d entered Princeton and Yale in the 1980s, her ethnicity and gender would have been mildly interesting traits among the many she might possibly possess.

Were this a blog in which I posted topical photographs, I'm sure I could come up with a number of photos capturing "young ethnic kids" in the late 1950s "surrounded by an ethos". The Little Rock 9, for example. I'm sure Ms. Sotomayor worries herself to sleep each night, wondering just how different her life would have been we're she brought up in this encouraging era.

Unfortunately, Brooks gives up the game of Choose Your Own Adventure as the column goes on. We don't get to find out what would have become of Sotomayor were she transplanted, say, Twain-like, into 6th century Britain. Would she have adopted such empathetic notions about the sub-human plight of dragons? He doesn't hazard a guess.

He does make another point, though. Multiculturalism = yucky. If only America could have skipped from the 50s, when Latina women thrived at Harvard and Yale, apparently, to the 80s, when all race-, gender- and class-based oppression ceased entirely to exist, slayed ceremoniously by a dragon. Problem solved, and none of that enforced reading of African authors that goes on in public schools to this day.

And surely there's no need for multiculturalism in our society still today. Those who decry Sotomayor's icky "patina" have clearly got the differences between Buddhists, Asians and Hispanics allllll figured out.

Friday, June 5, 2009

i was born in kowloon bay!

Obama has them swooning at a journalist roundtable after his Cairo speech, and there's something familiar in his ability to hit all the right notes, all the time.

"I would be surprised if when I came to Asia I did not stop by my old home town of Jakarta. And I'll go visit Menteng Dalam and have some bakso -- nasi goreng. These are some special dishes here that I used to eat when I was a kid."

Ah, now I get it. He's the Rob Lowe character from Wayne's World.