As I sit on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and watch the U.S. Senate’s Judiciary Committee’s confirmation hearings in Washington D.C. for Elena Kagan’s nomination to the US Supreme Court, I wonder… am I paranoid? Does anyone else get some weird feeling that certain Republican senators are sending out veiled and not so veiled reminders on the nominee’s religion.

If Kagan likes New Moons and Team Jacob...

For example, why do some in the Senate emphasize the nominees childhood on Manhattan’s UPPER WEST SIDE, and her work in CAMBRIDGE MASS. Are these codewords for liberal attitudes? or another way of saying “Jewish?” Why did the Washington Post publish, today, that Kagan likes briefs (legal) over boxers, and opine that she supoprts Team JACOB over Team Edward (“Jacob??” New Moons? or “Wolf” over vampire?, does Team Jacob mean Team Jewish?)

Am I being thin-skinned? Is it because I spent too much time in Haight Ashbury and Berkeley, and not enough time in South Bend, Orange County, Grosse Pointe, and Seneca, SC.

Why on Earth did Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC; Col., Air Force Reserves, that most liberal branch of the US Armed Services… not) ask Solicitor General Kagan, “Where were you at on Christmas Day?”

(whaaaaaaaat? )

Kagan started answering him, but Senator Graham cut her off, saying, “No. I just asked where you were at on Christmas.” Kagan responded that, “Like all Jews, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant.”

She was funny, but much too polite. I would have said that I was volunteering at a soup kitchen so that my Baptist friends could take the day off. Or that I was busy hunting down Nazis and racists. It reminds me of the time in a job interview, I was asked the ethnicity of my surname and what my father did for a living. I told my interviewer that my father was a retired Nazi Hunter. (I didn’t get the job)

What do you think? Are you sensing some euphemisms in play in the Senate… a little reminder here and there that this nominee is one of them Jewish liberals from the Northeast?

* * *

Speaking of lawyers from NYC, let me just add this to the Shiva-Watch, and recall the life of William L. Taylor, who passed away this week due to complications from a recent fall at the age of 78. Attorney Taylor was a vigorous leader in defending the rights of all Americans. He worked with Thurgood Marshall (just like SGOTUS Kagan), handling civil rights and school desegregation cases and drafting legislation and briefs. Marshall went on to become a U.S. Supreme Court Justice. Taylor influenced the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the 1965 Voting Rights Act, Title I funding for disadvantaged youth, and the 1968 Fair Housing Act. He taught civil rights law at Catholic University for 15 years and started its civil rights clinic. According to his FBI file, leaders at his own alma mater, Brooklyn College, urged the federal government not to hire Taylor since he supported liberal causes and Negro rights in the South.

In 2001, Brooklyn College gave Taylor, who graduated from Yale Law, an honorary degree, honoring his efforts to secure civil rights for all Americans. “It was a character-building experience,” Atty. Taylor said at the time. “I learned that you could speak out for things you believed in and that nothing bad would happen to you. I have spent my life doing that.”

“Bill was one of the very most accomplished desegregation lawyers in the country and successfully litigated many school desegregation suits, which is not a one-time process,” said David J. Goldberg, the senior counsel for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. “Even successful suits require years of enforcement. Bill didn’t just win suits and go away. He stayed engaged.” The U.S. Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, said, “Bill Taylor was a consistent voice for equality and justice—a voice that will be deeply missed.”

As a Jewish teenager in Brooklyn, Taylor experienced bias and was called a “Christ killer.” When he saw whites harass Jackie Robinson, the baseball player who broke baseball’s color line in 1947, Taylor became committed to racial justice.

Probably, no on ever asked him what he did last Christmas.

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  • The stupid questions are coming from both sides, unfortunately. The “Team Edward v. Team Jacob” question came from a Democratic senator. This whole confirmation hearing is turning into a circus.

  • Thanks for providing context for the Christmas question. I read the joke in the paper but couldn’t understand why she was being asked about her activities on Christmas day. It’s a very disturbing question when you describe how it was asked.

  • actually i did not provide the real context. this was more for humor. the real context is that he was asking about a day that a terror activity was occurring. but it could have been asked more directly.

  • The Upper West Side and Cambridge are known as bastions of liberal intellectualism, which is frowned upon by the anti-intellectual elements of the right (and certain politicians who pander to those elements). The UWS has some Jewish connotations, but I don’t think Cambridge does.

    And the Christmas comment was about her views on terrorism, which just happened to bring up an act that occurred on Christmas. It wasn’t a salvo in the Bill O’Reilly War on Christmas™.