A Postcolonial Approach
Chapter Two: Hotel Maid in Manhattan 49
Chapter Two Hotel Maid in Manhattan n 2009, when Sonia Sotomayor, an American judge of Puerto Rican descent, was nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States, a conservative uproar challenged her candidacy.1 Many conservatives, afraid that a Hispanic woman might sit on the country’s highest bench, expressed their disapproval couching their views not on the judge’s accomplishments but an ethnic discourse of rejection and estrangement. The attacks on Sotomayor were wide-ranging, but much of the conservative teleology concentrated on Sotomayor’s ethnicity and gender. Conservatives accused her, among other things, of being unintelligent and deficient in legal objectivity; others argued that Sotomayor lacked judicial experience. Some conservatives even used clear racial and cultural remarks accusing the judge of being unfamiliar with American ways, and even having a last name difficult to pronounce. It appeared that the conservative criticism had dual objectives. It aimed at building an image of New York-born Sotomayor as a foreigner who could not be trusted. The attacks seemed to ignore Sotomayor’s extensive judicial career and her professional and unbiased views of the law,2 and instead attempted to inflame demographic and ethnic fears. As in the history of American ethnic relations and the politics between the powerful and the powerless, the labeling and the diffusion of negative images about the judge were not actually about Sotomayor, but about old prejudices. The attacks mirrored old colonial discourses which pointed to a paradigm of racial desires. The conservative attacks in the wake of the Sotomayor nomination were...
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