A Social Criticism: Who We Are, Where We’re Going and How we can Embrace Diversity in the 21st Century

If it is possible to receive the “evil eye” from a duck, I faced off with seven pairs of evil eyes while walking in a park the other day. As the flock foraged through lush green grass, it struck me that these waterfowl were not among the kind I had seen before. They were not mallards, wood ducks, coots or any of the other species that are typical to American ponds, lakes and parklands.

One of the seven ducks seemed to be the ringleader. He — or she — was bent on only one thing: keeping the seventh “odd duck” as far away from the remaining six as possible. How typical, I thought. They’re very much like us!

I wondered, momentarily, if these ducks had the capacity to reason why their boorish behavior ought to be directed at one of their own kind that, by all appearances, was undeserving of such marginalization? For that matter, are dominance-driven behaviors on the part of animals influenced by emotions at all? More tellingly, is in-group/out-group selection any more a negotiable aspect of human nature as it is for our furred, feathered and scaled counterparts in the animal kingdom?

Does Nature have a good reason for why we — and they — behave the way we do?

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If Justice is Blind, Sotomayor is Anything But

Prospective Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor has yet to complete the vetting process but already controversy over a comment she made in 2001 has erupted. In “A Latina Judge’s Voice“, a lecture presented at the law school of the University of California, Berkeley, Sotomayor said that her Latina heritage undeniably plays a role in her judgments. “I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life,” Sotomayor told her audience.

The Associated Press reports President Obama is sure the would-be Supreme Court justice didn’t mean to imply that one segment of the population may be deficient in contrast to another. The President’s spokesman, Robert Gibbs, meanwhile, speculated that Sotomayor regrets her poor choice of words — now. But even if the liberal nominee were to express misgivings about her inflammatory statement — which is unlikely despite compelling others to apologize on her own behalf — the public should not anticipate a change of heart. Regretting a consequence of one’s actions is one thing. Remorse for the bigoted sentiments that shape one’s identity? Don’t count on it.

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