Remembering Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Trump-Style
I liked this remembrance that Chief Justice John Roberts gave in a ceremony after Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death on September 18, 2020.
“Justice Ginsburg’s life was one of the many versions of the American dream. Her father was an immigrant from Odessa. Her mother was born four months after her family arrived from Poland. Her mother later worked as a bookkeeper in Brooklyn. Ruth used to ask, ‘What is the difference between a bookkeeper in Brooklyn and a Supreme Court justice?’ Her answer: ‘One generation.’”
That line from Ginsburg is heart-warming, because it reminds me of the American dream of upward mobility that is inspirational and, according to the data, inaccurate. A person’s racial, class and caste background makes that climb harder: the ladder rungs are farther apart, brittle, and there may not be someone there to catch you when you fall.
However, hearing RBG talk about achieving what she did from her humble beginnings is legitimately inspirational, because she was aware of how social and legal forces act against less privileged American groups; and she dedicated her life to using her mind to help people by addressing shortcomings in the law.
Let’s be optimistic in the face of all of the challenges we’re facing right now: Ruth Bader Ginsburg and many like her dedicate their lives to helping Americans have equal access to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Let’s not forget that it takes people working hard to make it possible for more bookkeeper’s daughters to climb like RBG did.