By: Jamison Foser

In the weeks since President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court, one question has consumed the news media, particularly conservatives in the media: Imagine what would happen if a white man had said the reverse of Sotomayor’s famous (and famously distorted) “wise Latina” comment. Media commentators have insisted that such a white man would be denounced as a racist and run out of town on a rail.

That’s nonsense. First of all, Sotomayor’s actual comments were far more innocuous than the media’s portrayal of them would suggest; she was merely noting the importance of judicial diversity in cases involving discrimination, a sentiment that is consistent with statements by numerous prominent conservatives. Second, as Reason magazine’s Julian Sanchez has noted, “[I]t would be weird for a white man to say it because it’s probably not true that the experience of growing up as a white male in the United States specifically enhances one’s understanding of what it means to be a disfavored minority.”