George Takei, well-known for his political outspokenness, opened a vein during an interview on a local Fox affiliate, calling Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas “a clown in blackface.”
“He is a clown in blackface sitting on the Supreme Court. He gets me that angry. He doesn’t belong there. For him to say slaves had dignity–doesn’t he know that saves were in chain? That they were whipped on the back?…my parents lost everything…and we’re supposed to call that dignified? This man does not belong in the Supreme Court. He is an embarrassment. He is a disgrace to America.”
The passage to which Takei is referring is from Justice Clarence Thomas’ dissent to the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling, in which he wrote:
“Human dignity has long been understood in this country to be innate. When the Framers proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that ‘all men are created equal’ and ‘endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,’ they referred to a vision of mankind in which all humans are created in the image of God and therefore of inherent worth. That vision is the foundation upon which this nation was built.
The corollary of that principle is that human dignity cannot be taken away by the government. Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits. The government cannot bestow dignity, and it cannot take it away.
Our Constitution—like the Declaration of Independence before it—was predicated on a simple truth: One’s liberty, not to mention one’s dignity, was something to be shielded from—not provided by—the state.”
It’s clear to anyone—let’s revise that—anyone who can read and discern the meaning of what they’ve read, that when Thomas refers to dignity, he was referring to the government’s inability to take away our intrinsic human dignity, regardless of the circumstances in which the government might place us. Those in power can torture our bodies and minds, but they cannot take away what is fundamental to us as human beings.
Furthermore, Thomas’ necessary reference to dignity is in response to the Justices’ majority opinion, in which they invoke dignity as a mainline constitutional privileged in order to grant marriage to same-sex couples.
It’s obvious that Clarence Thomas didn’t mean the raping of slaves, the internment of Japanese Americans, et al, was in any way dignified. His intent was much more philosophical. To make such an argument as Takei’s is infantile.
Lastly, Thomas notes that our entire system of “liberty” as we know it is based not on what we are given by the government, but by what we cannot have taken away by it.
Now that that’s settled, let’s take note of the rhetoric used by Takei. “A clown in blackface.” Can you fathom any conservative using similar language and getting away with it? If Ted Cruz called Obama “a clown in blackface sitting in the White House,” what do you think would happen? The world would stop, his career would be over, and the press would flog him until he was dead. The backlash would be extraordinary and unending.
So what’s happening to Takei? Not much. Conservative media outlets are pouncing on his remarks, but beyond that, mainstream media condemnation of Takei’s racist language is non-existent. A cursory Google search finds no left-leaning publication making any sort of condemnation.
I will give credit where it’s due. Liberal academic Marc Lamont Hill did criticize Takei on Twitter, as did Montel Williams—but that’s peanuts compared to the megaton backlash a conservative would have faced.
Following conservative consternation, Takei defended himself on Facebook using a truly classic liberal tactic:
“I feel Justice Thomas has abdicated and abandoned his African American heritage…”
There it is! Everybody take a shot! He’s not black because he’s conservative. Therefore, we can call him a clown in blackface.
Takei is in a protected class. In fact, he’s doubly protected as he’s liberal and gay. He’s untouchable. He can say whatever he wants—no matter how derogatory or offensive—so long as it’s aimed at conservatives.
Well, George, I’m going to call you out. What you said was not only offensive, but it was deeply stupid. Your outrage at Thomas’ dissent was lacking in contextual understanding. Don’t you liberals love to invoke “context” every time one of your guys says something outrageous? So why suddenly lose sight of the context, George? Oh right, because Clarence Thomas doesn’t agree with you.
I’d call you something derogatory, but your actions have made it clear to everyone what a buffoon you are, so there’s really no point.