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April 05, 2005

In Defense of Senator Cornyn

I'm sorry, I just can't join in the liberal feeding frenzy around John Cornyn's remarks that some of those violently attacking judges were no doubt frustrated by their sense of political powerlessness due to judicial activism.

First, as someone who thinks we need to analyze the causes of violence of a whole range of people, from the poor in our cities to terrorists reacting to political grievances, I just think it's part of the dumbing down of our discourse to trash anyone who dares make a sociological explanation of violence. Sure, Cornyn was saying partially that it's the judges' fault that they face this violent backlash, but any time you analyze the causes of violence, there is an implicit shifting of responsibility. It doesn't excuse the violence but it does highlight changes in social policy that could lead to a lessening of those results.

If I say Israel's anti-democratic and brutal policies in the Occupied Territories breeds terrorist attacks, that doesn't excuse those engaging in violent attacks on civilians, but it does argue that the injustice of the policies do have consequences. When some black nationalists turned to violence and even riots out of frustration with the political system in the late 60s, it was reasonable to analyze the source of those frustrations and the resulting anger. Similarly, if anyone wants to argue that anti-democratic actions by judges breeds violence, they have the right to make that observation.

And frankly, as someone who from the left condemns judicial attacks on affirmative action, labor rights and a range of other progressive values, I find the liberal defense of the fairness of our judiciary to be nauseating. There is little justice in our courts for the poor, for the oppressed, for workers rights, or for those of the wrong skin color. Sure, no judge deserves to be killed but I don't want anyone daring to analyze the anger of those who rebel against court power, or any power for that matter, to be driven from polite political discussion.

I think Cornyn is an ass for his particular analysis in this case, but that's a political judgement. I'm all for hitting the opposition hard for any corruption, hypocrisy or other personal malfeasance, but don't sign me up for any lynch mob tied to driving sociological analysis of violence from public discourse.

Instead of berating Cornyn for his remarks, let's welcome him to a broader discussion of the sources of violence in our society. Maybe we can sign him up for jobs programs for the inner city as another worthy endeavor to stem the systematic causes of social violence.

Posted by Nathan at April 5, 2005 04:00 PM