by Jeff Fecke | | May 28, 2009 • Ironically presented by Thomas Sowell:
|Jeff Fecke is a freelance writer who lives in Eagan, Minnesota.In addition to his own blog, Blog of the Moderate Left, he also contributes to Alas, a Blog, Minnesota Campaign Report, and AlterNet. Fecke has appeared as a guest on the “Today” show, the Alan Colmes radio show, and the Mark Heaney Show. Fecke is divorced, and the father of one really terrific daughter. His debut novel, The Valkyrie’s Tale, is now available.|
Much is being made of the fact that Sonia Sotomayor had to struggle to rise in the world. But stop and think.
If you were going to have open-heart surgery, would you want to be operated on by a surgeon who was chosen because he had to struggle to get where he is, or by the best surgeon you could find — even if he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and had every advantage that money and social position could offer?
And that’s it: the idea that someone could rise from a hardscrabble existence and reach the pinnacle of their profession is simply not considered. The fact that a woman or a person of color could also be the best in their field is ignored. Indeed, the very idea that there can be a “best” in a field, as if there is someone out there measuring each and every heart surgeon, and doing so in a scrupulously neutral fashion that does not weigh anything but skill with the knife (as if that metric is the only one possible)…this is patently foolish.
Look, obviously if my daughter is in surgery, I want her to have a good surgeon. But what I view as a good surgeon is different than what you might want. I want someone who’s competent with the knife, yes, but also someone who can relate to my daughter, who can put her at ease, who is — yes — empathetic. That skill is no less important than skill with a knife; indeed, it may be more important.
Now, if the empathetic doctor treating my daughter was born into privilege and is nevertheless capable and kind, then sure, I’m fine with him treating my child. But I’ve got to admit, if she came up through the school of hard knocks, and came out the other side a surgeon, I’m going to trust her a little bit more than the son of privilege. All things being equal, the fact that one doctor — or judge — triumphed over adversity is something worthy of respect. Given that Sonia Sotomayor has over a decade of judicial experience on one of the most difficult appelate courts in the country, she’s as well-qualified as any hotshot judge could be. She just had to earn it.
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