Friday, June 12, 2009

Against a virtue?

Before picking Sonia Sotomayor as a nominee for the Supreme Court, Barack Obama stated that he was looking for a person who had empathy. According to the dictionary, empathy denotes a "deep emotional understanding of another's feelings or problems." To most people, that personal quality would be a virtue.

But Republicans pounced all over the word empathy as a code word for "activist judge," and leftist causes, such as "classism, racism, sexism, and homophobia." The antonym of empathy is apathy, misunderstanding, unfeelingness.

Another antonym would be callousness. If empathy is so bad, would callousness therefore be a virtue in the Republican party? They certainly seem to callous of the poor, and workers, and people without health care, and people of color, and people languishing in prison. They claim to be Christians, but the poor are mentioned in the Bible more than 3000 times. Jesus was himself was the embodiment of empathy. He would certainly not make it through the confirmation process.