NY Times Hails ‘Ninja Warrior’ Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Nurturing Silly Liberal Meme

May 14th, 2018 5:36 PM

Underlining how the liberal worldview has soaked through every section of the newspaper, reporter Melanie Ryzik has a full-page spread in Sunday’s New York Times Arts & Leisure section, “The Supreme Court’s Ninja Warrior – Ruth Bader Ginsburg uses her popularity for fun and progress.”

The paper has carefully nurtured the liberal meme of Justice Ginsburg as superheroine. It already covered this silliness in February, when the paper’s Supreme Court reporter Adam Liptak descended into the pop-culture hagiography, under the headline “24 Years on the Bench, and Still Putting Them in the Seats.” The online headline provided the nickname her Millennial fans have given the Justice: “On Tour With Notorious R.B.G., Judicial Rock Star.” Yet Sunday's headline may exceed that one for silliness.

Ryzik took a breathless tone to hail the new liberal queen:

No one knew when, or even how or where, Ruth Bader Ginsburg would pop up. The Supreme Court justice was due at a screening here of “RBG,” a new documentary chronicling her exemplary life. But she was not tied to the night’s tightly scripted schedule -- at some point she would just appear, “like a ninja,” an organizer said.

Gathered in a theater at the Naval Heritage Center, the crowd was amped. There were lawmakers (progressive Democrats and a smattering of conservatives); the justice’s family, friends and former law clerks; her colleague Justice Stephen Breyer; and self-described fan girls and boys.

“I just love how she takes no crap from anybody,” said Kerri Sheehan, a 49-year-old video producer, who wore a T-shirt printed, Warhol-style, with the justice’s face. “There’s no sugarcoating.”

When the justice arrived, bodyguards encircling her, the audience gave her a standing ovation, then hushed until she claimed her seat. She wore her hair pulled back with one of her beloved scrunchies, in navy velvet; a maroon tweedy blazer; slate-blue belled slacks; jewelry in just about every possible place jewelry can go; and carried her own large handbag. In front of her, arms shot up for the stealth selfie-with-a-famous-person snap. She didn’t mind.

Justice Ginsburg is an unlikely celebrity but then again, we live in an age full of those. What makes her ascendance to pop culture icon -- the Notorious RBG, y’all -- truly surprising is that, at 85, she is having fun with her unexpected fame, and making careful and inspired use of it for her own savvy ends.


[Conservative lawyer Theodore B. Olson] calls her a warrior. [Liberal feminist Gloria] Steinem, in the documentary, calls her a superhero. (Marvel agrees: in “Deadpool 2,” when the title character is assembling his X Force, he flicks through a photo of her as a candidate.)


Now, her “RBG” notoriety may only grow. (The nickname is a play on the Notorious B.I.G., the rapper -- a fellow Brooklynite, as she likes to point out.) There is also a feature about her in the works, with Felicity Jones playing her as a young lawyer, and Armie Hammer as her doting husband, Martin Ginsburg. The justice makes a cameo, as herself.

It is the kind of attention that eluded her when she made her groundbreaking strides, helping to create the legal framework for women’s rights in the 1970s. As a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union, she won five of the six cases she argued before the Supreme Court, maintaining that the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause should apply to issues of gender discrimination.

Still more gushing:

For those wondering about her longevity, the directors of “RBG” say they were impressed by her verve and intellectual sharpness...

Needless to say, conservative justices like Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas don’t garner this kind of pop adulation, and if they did, no signal boosting would be incoming from the hostile Times.