Oh My: George Takei Called Justice Thomas 'A Clown In Blackface'

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Jul 04, 2015 10:45 AM
Oh My: George Takei Called Justice Thomas 'A Clown In Blackface'

There is a serious argument against the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges decision, which said there is a constitutional right to same-sex marriage. That being said, there is still a legitimate debate as to whether this was the proper avenue to grant this right for gay Americans, instead of the legislative process. Nevertheless, it’s hard to have such discussions when you have people, like George Takei (aka Hikaru Sulu*), dole out what could be construed as patently racist attacks. Takei recently called Justice Clarence Thomas “a clown in blackface” and a “disgrace” to the nation.

Even die-hard liberals, like Bill Clinton’s chief strategist Paul Begala, thought the remarks were utterly reprehensible. Folks, even Marc Lamont Hill thought Sulu crashed the ship on this one.

To make matter worse, Takei doubled down on his remarks.

Takei has finally apologized for his remarks, posting on his Facebook page that his comments were “uncivil” and “ad hominem.” That’s putting it mildly [emphasis mine]:

I owe an apology. On the eve of this Independence Day, I have a renewed sense of what this country stands for, and how I personally could help achieve it. The promise of equality and freedom is one that all of us have to work for, at all times. I know this as a survivor of the Japanese American internment, which each day drives me only to strive harder to help fulfill that promise for future generations.

I recently was asked by a reporter about Justice Clarence Thomas’s dissent in the marriage equality cases, in which he wrote words that really got under my skin, by suggesting that the government cannot take away human dignity through slavery, or though internment. In my mind that suggested that this meant he felt the government therefore shouldn’t be held accountable, or should do nothing in the face of gross violations of dignity.

When asked by a reporter about the opinion, I was still seething, and I referred to him as a “clown in blackface” to suggest that he had abdicated and abandoned his heritage. This was not intended to be racist, but rather to evoke a history of racism in the theatrical arts. While I continue to vehemently disagree with Justice Thomas, the words I chose, said in the heat of anger, were not carefully considered. I am reminded, especially on this July 4th holiday, that though we have the freedom to speak our minds, we must use that freedom judiciously. Each of us, as humans, have hot-button topics that can set us off, and Justice Thomas had hit mine, that is clear. But my choice of words was regrettable, not because I do not believe Justice Thomas is deeply wrong, but because they were ad hominem and uncivil, and for that I am sorry.

I often ask fans to keep the level of discourse on this page and in comments high, and to remember that we all love this country and for what it stands for, even if we often disagree passionately about how to achieve those goals. I did not live up to my own high standards in this instance.

I hope all of you have a wonderful, safe and joyously free July 4th, the first where all married couples in the U.S. can enjoy the full liberties of matrimony equally. It is truly a blessing to be an American today.

Okay. Sulu apologized, but it comes to show you that we cannot have serious conservation anymore with the left, especially when they dish out racially charged cheap shots a la Takei. Not to mention, he only apologized when the backlash proved to be significant.

I don’t agree with New York Times Magazine’s Emily Bazelon, formerly of Slate, but she had a fair article about the Obergefell ruling, where she noted both sides–and the concerns of those who represent the conservative wing of the Court. Of course, she supports the ruling, but there’s no mentioning of black face, there’s no questioning of the legitimacy of the justices, nor is there any ad hominem attacks akin to those who make it their business to troll on the Internet:

The dissenters are clear and thorough about the downsides of this. Chief Justice John Roberts asks sarcastically of his colleagues, “Just who do we think we are?” He also makes this sensible pitch for judicial restraint: “When decisions are reached through democratic means, some people will inevitably be disappointed with the results. But those whose views do not prevail at least know that they have had their say, and accordingly are — in the tradition of our political culture — reconciled to the result of a fair and honest debate.”

Roberts warns that “stealing this issue from the people will for many cast a cloud over same-sex marriage, making a dramatic social change that much more difficult to accept.” Justice Samuel Alito goes further, predicting that today’s ruling “will be used to vilify Americans who are unwilling to assent to the new orthodoxy” and “exploited by those who are determined to stamp out every vestige of dissent.” He ends on a note of doom: “Recalling the harsh treatment of gays and lesbians in the past, some may think that turnabout is fair play. But if that sentiment prevails, the Nation will experience bitter and lasting wounds.”

Among gay rights supporters, these doubts will be drowned out in celebration — as Roberts, for one, acknowledges. Perhaps some activists would quietly agree that state-by-state lawmaking would be better. But the evidence to date suggests that Alito’s dire warning is overblown; the backlash to same-sex marriage has so far been contained to minor skirmishes. There are no victims when gay couples marry. The gain, in love, commitment and stability, is easy to see. These are among the reasons public opinion has moved swiftly in favor of marriage equality.

Yet, the backlash towards those who support the non-controversial traditional marriage position will probably find themselves under siege by the media and lefty activists. This is where we’re at risk of entering a phase where no discussions on these issues can be developed.

Obergefell isn’t final. Neither is Roe v. Wade, or Gonzalez v. Carhart (the Court’s upholding of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act). The Court does change its opinions on certain laws. Plessy v. Ferguson is a prime example; with the Court erroneously ruling the racial segregation laws are constitutional under the “separate but equal” doctrine in 1896. That was reversed in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. As a result, conservatives should prepare for a long wait concerning re-litigating the gay marriage ruling post-Obergefell. But, for now, the Takei meltdown is over, but we should expect more to come, especially as conservatives rethink their legal options.

Last Note: Bill Shatner tweets that Takei isn't a racist.

*I hate Star Trek.