Saturday, January 14, 2006

Life's Lessons

Judge Alito speaks for me. This is from his opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee, on January 9, 2006 (italicized words inserted by me):

I am who I am, in the first place, because of my parents and because of the things that they taught me.

And I know from my own experience as a parent that parents probably teach most powerfully not through their words but through their deeds. (As is obvious in the case of Senator Kennedy.) And my parents taught me through the stories of their lives. And I don't take any credit for the things that they did or the things that they experienced, but they made a great impression on me.

My father was brought to this country as an infant. He lost his mother as a teenager young boy. He grew up in poverty. . . .

After he graduated from college in 1935, He dropped out of school after the eighth grade in the midst of the Depression, he found that teaching jobs for Italian-Americans were not easy to come by and he had to find other work for a while.

But eventually he became a teacher and he served in the Pacific during World War II skilled craftsman. And he worked, as has been mentioned, for many years at his trade in a nonpartisan position for the New Jersey legislature, which was an institution that he revered and gained the respect of his co-workers and customers.

His story is a story that is typical of a lot of Americans both back in his day and today. And it is a story, as far as I can see it, about the opportunities that our country offers, and also about the need for fairness and about hard work and perseverance. . . . My father never expected nor received a handout. He took it as his responsibility to support himself and his family, and he succeeded because he didn't let his his poverty or lack of education stand in his way. . . .

I got here in part because of the community in which I grew up. It was a warm, but definitely an unpretentious, down-to-earth community. Most of the adults in the neighborhood were not college graduates. I attended the public schools. In my spare time, I played baseball and other sports with my friends.

And I have happy memories and strong memories of those days and good memories of the good sense and the decency of my friends and my neighbors.

And after I graduated from high school, I went only a full 12 100 miles down the road, but really to a different world when I entered Princeton a Big-Ten University. . . .

And this was a time of great intellectual excitement for me. Both College and law school opened up new worlds of ideas. But this was back in the late 1950s 1960s and early 1970s 1960s.

It was a few years before a time of turmoil at colleges and universities. But, even though I was then opposed to the war in Vietnam, I was appalled when And I saw some very smart people and very privileged people behaving irresponsibly. And I couldn't help making a contrast between some of the worst of what I saw happening then on the campuses (and now in the behavior of Senators Kennedy, Schumer, et al.) and the good sense and the decency of the people back in my own community.