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Smart Bombs

Pronounced anger

Melissa Clouthier at took an interesting angle on the nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court of Sonia Sotomayor, namely the way she pronounces her name (So-toe-my-OR). In a lament titled “No More Americanization,” she wondered why the nominee of Puerto Rican descent didn’t go by “Soto-may-er.”

Clouthier pointed out how a proud American such as herself chose to assimilate, so she dumped the pronunciation of Cloo-thee-AY for CLOTH-ee-er. Besides, people might think she actually is French and has stopped ordering freedom fries.

Over at The Corner, the blog of the National Review, Mark Krikorian was a bit more charitable in wondering why it wasn’t Soto-MY-or. He was big-hearted enough to concede the “my” for “may,” but was still unhappy that she didn’t use a “natural English” pronunciation. Not sure what that means, but I think it’s an endorsement of EYE-rack and EYE-talian.

Strangely, neither pundit called out current Justices Antonin Scalia (should be SCALE-ee-uh) or Samuel Alito ( make it AL-uh-toe) for clinging to their ethnic pronunciations. But going that extra centimeter to pronounce “Sotomayor” the way she does somehow triggered their inner grouch. Now I could opine that this has something to do with the immigration issue or the increasing influence of Hispanic cultures, but that would be guessing. Better to leave the theorizing to another conservative.

Hey, the House minority leader would be a good choice. But first John needs to explain how a proud American gets to “BAY-nur” from Boehner. It just isn’t natural.

I am not a Crock. This exercise in political pronunciations is the opposite of what I face. It’s clear how to pronounce “Crooks,” but some people search for alternatives for fear that the obvious one would offend me. So, it’s “Crocks” or “Crewks.”

It’s comical but also endearing, because they’re going out of their way not to offend. Imagine that.

Party time! When Miguel Estrada was vying for a seat on the Washington, D.C., Court of Appeals, Democrats put up a fierce fight. Many Republicans labeled the opposition anti-Hispanic. Robert Alt of National Review went even further, writing in 2003:

“Despite their inevitable protesting to the contrary, it is clear that Ted Kennedy’s gang of 45 discriminated against Estrada because he is Hispanic, like they discriminate against another nominee, William Pryor, for his devout Catholicism.”

Now Kennedy the Catholic and his gang never mentioned those traits, but that was the charge. Well, Sonia Sotomayor is Hispanic and Catholic. It’s a win-win for the GOP in its never-ending battle against bigotry. So why so glum?

Smart Bombs is written by Associate Editor Gary Crooks and appears Wednesdays and Sundays on the Opinion page. Crooks can be reached at or at (509) 459-5026.
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