Former Star Trek star and social media giant George Takei calls Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas “a clown in blackface” while slamming Thomas for claiming the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee human dignity.
Takei was rightfully angry at Thomas for making some offensive and bizarre claims in his dissent to last week’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage across the nation.
In an interview with Fox 10 earlier this week the famous actor and gay rights advocate declared:
He is a clown in blackface sitting on the Supreme Court. He gets me that angry.
Takei went on:
For him to say slaves had dignity … I mean, doesn’t he know slaves were chained? That they were whipped on the back?
Takei also discussed his own family’s experience in the Japanese internment camps during World War II:
My parents lost everything that they worked for in the middle of their lives, in their 30s. His business, my father’s business, our home, our freedom and we’re supposed to call that dignified?… This man does not belong on the Supreme Court. He is an embarrassment. He is a disgrace to America.
Writing his dissent in response to the Supreme Court’s historic decision affirming that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry, Thomas took issue with the concept of human “dignity” used by his colleagues in the majority to support their ruling in favor of marriage equality.
In trying to show that the U.S. Constitution does not guarantee or protect human dignity, Thomas made some offensive claims, arguing that African Americans held as slaves did not lose their dignity because the government allowed them to be enslaved, and that Japanese Americans held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them.
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.
Of course Thomas is wrong, and Takei is justified in his anger. The government can take away someone’s dignity. Both slavery and the Japanese internment camps are perfect examples of the state denigrating and denying the human dignity of those inflicted.
In his dissent, Thomas wrote that there is no “dignity” clause in the U.S. Constitution, while arguing that the government could not bestow dignity upon a person or take it away.
Again, Thomas is wrong. By ruling in favor of marriage equality, the court has indeed bestowed upon the LGBT community a dignity that was lacking prior to the ruling. And if the court had ruled against marriage equality, the court would have denied LGBT people the particular dignity associated with being able to enter into the legal contract of marriage.
Bottom line: Takei is right to be angry, and Thomas has proven himself to be an incompetent and unqualified Supreme Court justice. However, using the phrase “a clown in blackface” to describe Thomas is problematic, for it is at once both offensive, and accurate.
(Portions of this article were previously published here)https://youtu.be/FWwHqvTEFaM