Hell is for ‘Heroes’

July 13, 2009

It appears that liberal activist group People For the American Way’s smear campaign against Connecticut firefighter Frank Ricci is bearing fruit. Dahlia Lithwick has already responded with an obedient hit piece in Slate magazine, which perfectly fits the bill.

Why are liberals targeting Ricci? Because he had the audacity to challenge Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals summary ruling against him and other firefighters denied promotions because of affirmative action policies. Worse, he prevailed when the Supreme Court reversed the Sotomayor court.

Worse yet, Ricci has agreed to testify at Judge Sotomayor’s Senate confirmation hearing, so liberal hardballers supporting Sotomayor’s confirmation must personally discredit him — just as they did Joe the Plumber.

You know the drill; liberals always go to the mat for the common man and for African-Americans and women — unless, of course, those common men, African-Americans or women (e.g., Joe, Clarence Thomas, Sarah Palin) oppose their agenda.

People For the American Way triggered this opposition research campaign against Ricci in an e-mail, which cited “Frank Ricci’s troubled and litigious work history.” Dahlia Lithwick then helped to fill in the blanks in her article “Fire Proof.” (I wish some of these lib crack investigative reporters would use their formidable talents to fill in the blanks on President Barack Obama’s largely undocumented life. But here I merely fantasize — and digress.)

Right up front in her article, Lithwick tells us that “Ricci has become a sort of folk hero for white men everywhere, having dared to stand up against the evils of affirmative action and race-based employment preferences.” At the confirmation hearings, “he will be called on to make the point … that Sotomayor, for all her talk of empathy … ‘demonstrated no empathy for the real world consequences’ of affirmative action on Ricci.”

This is wrong — and offensive — in several ways. While I don’t expect doctrinaire liberals to understand this, conservatives don’t see the world through the same race-conscious prism as they do. We don’t see Ricci as white or Italian or any other category, and we certainly don’t see him as a type of folk hero fighting reverse discrimination.

His skin color and ethnicity are utterly irrelevant to us, except to the extent they were used by his employer and the Sotomayor court to deny Ricci and his colleagues promotions they had worked hard to achieve.

Memo to libs: While you may well consider Sotomayor a folk heroine because of her gender and ethnicity, that is not how most of us think. The principle we seek to have vindicated is not white power or male power. It is racial and gender neutrality and equal protection of the laws.

Nor does Lithwick accurately perceive the conservative mindset regarding Sotomayor’s reputed “empathy” orientation to jurisprudence. The fact that Sotomayor would only selectively indulge her empathetic impulse — in favor of certain minorities — is no news flash. Liberals of the race-conscious variety make no secret about their selective approach to racism and sexism. Just ask Attorney General Eric Holder, who has made clear his view that proposed hate crime statutes are only designed to protect those who have been historically aggrieved, which excludes, for example, white men.

But that’s hardly the point concerning judicial “empathy.” Our main concern here is that appellate judges make their rulings based on the law and not their feelings — or policy preferences, for that matter.

Lithwick proceeds to describe Ricci’s allegedly “litigious” past, presumably to make him a less sympathetic and credible witness.

But again she misses the point. These confirmation hearings are not about Ricci or his past. And the relevant issue in his recently successful reversal of the Sotomayor court was not his alleged penchant for lawsuits. It was whether that court visited an injustice upon him and his fellow plaintiffs and, if so, why.

It seems to me that the People For the American Way, Lithwick and other windup liberal activists might be getting more than they are bargaining for if they continue to pursue this line of impeachment. Their attacks will surely just cause a brighter spotlight to fall, not only on Sotomayor’s cavalier handling of the Ricci case but also on what the National Journal’s widely respected legal analyst Stuart Taylor describes as his “concern that her decisions may be biased by the grievance-focused mind-set and the ‘wise Latina woman’ superiority complex displayed in some of her speeches.”