The Breakfast Table

The American Dream of Homogenization

Dear Walter,

I once did a piece about Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The issue was whether there is a “women’s seat” on the high court and whether women should be striving for such distinctions or furious at them. A law professor I interviewed at the time told me something rather profound: He said this country will only truly achieve equality when people stop taking note of the achievements of women and minorities. In fact, he hypothesized that by the time we appoint a third woman to the high court, the newspapers won’t even comment on her gender. 

I don’t know if the day will come in this country when we stop counting the number of women in Congress, or Jewish vice presidents, or Hispanic hitting streaks. I’m not even certain I want to live in a country so homogenized that we don’t count such things. I think men get nervous when women start counting the number of female senators, and whites become edgy when they hear the next Supreme Court seat will probably go to a Latino. This isn’t always because they object to sharing the spoils, by the way; it just reminds us that the melting pot may not be working, and we haven’t yet achieved the ambiguous national dream of becoming a nation of indistinguishable beige atheists.

Looking forward to your next!


P.S.: You do know who that law professor was, don’t you? (His name rhymes with Dalter Wellinger.)