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Ruth Bader Ginsburg: Why She Should Be Negatively Notorious

Opinion by Pasqueline Agostinho

On the 18th of September 2020, American jurist Ruth Bader Ginsburg, known by her initials RBG, died with Pancreatic cancer at 87 years old. From 1993 until her death, she served as an associate justice of the Supreme Court.

She was an icon amongst the liberals and liberal feminists and was coined with another nickname back in 2013: “The Notorious RBG”, an intertextual reference to the 90s rapper, the late Biggie Smalls, who was also known as the Notorious BIG.

She was popular amongst liberals for her progressive tendencies like gender equality. She was also the director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union during the 1970s.

Arguably, she did great things, but for the liberals, the good things clearly outweigh the “not-so-good” things she did in her power. So, what are the “not-so-good” things she did? Here is a list of controversies:

Ginsburg Voted for a Pipeline to Be Built

Earlier this year, Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer (another liberal-leaning judge) allowed the construction of a 600-mile natural gas pipeline beneath the Appalachian Trail. This was shocking because both judges decided to side with the court’s Conservative majority.

Controversy was also raised due to the price of construction ($7.5 billion) and the fact that the Appalachian Trail is a conservation park. This construction could also potentially disrupt the reservation of two recognised Native American tribes: The Eastern Band of the Cherokee and the Catawba Indian Nation.

Ginsburg is a Zionist

Zionism is an international and nationalist movement originally for the establishment of a Jewish national or religious community in Palestine and later for the support of modern Israel. This is problematic because her support of Zionism juxtaposes her progressive views on the USA.

The movement is opposed by most Arabs, the predominant group in Palestine. To Palestinians, Zionism is a violent act threatening their human rights and suppressing the fight for Palestinian Independence.

One example would be Operation Cast Lead which happened in 2008. This was a 22-day military assault on the Gaza strip where between 1,385 and 1,419 Palestinians were killed, most of them being civilians, which included 308 minors. Many housing units were destroyed, and 20,000 Palestinians became refugees.

Additionally, Israeli Arabs are treated as second-class citizens, and although both Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs can vote, the requirements for both groups are different in many instances. Also, Israeli Arabs get less support from the Israeli state than the Israeli Jews.

Ethiopian Jews suffer disproportionately more from Israeli systemic racism. They are likely to be in poverty, to be unemployed and have a lack of education.

The Israeli government has also separated Ethiopian Jews from their families in Israeli. Some people have regarded Israel an ethno-state as it was found as one, but legally, it is not. Ginsburg also accepted an Israeli prize in which she had won back in 2018. You can read more information about that here.

Ginsburg Attacked Colin Kaepernick for Kneeling

When American footballer, Colin Kaepernick, famously kneeled on behalf of black lives whilst the US national anthem played, the reception was divided. Some praised Kaepernick for his respect but others were angry and thought this act was “anti-American”. Ginsburg said that his protest was “dumb and disrespectful”. After she received backlash, she apologised to Colin Kaepernick.

Her legacy remains a political matter. She was a pioneer of equal rights for the liberals and was progressive but not when it came to Palestine because she is Jewish (even though Zionism has got nothing to do with Semitism or Judaism).

Because of this, she shouldn’t be blindly treated like a saint; we should recognise her flaws and liberals should take into consideration valid criticism about Ginsburg.

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