Star Trek’s Sulu lashed out at Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas as “a clown in blackface” for his dissent in the 5-4 ruling on same-sex marriage.
“He gets me that angry,” George Takei said in an interview with Phoenix’s Fox 10.
In his dissent, Thomas wrote of “the foundation upon which this Nation was built” — the belief that all humans have inherent worth regardless of the government.
“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,” Thomas said. “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.”
“For him to say slaves had dignity … I mean, doesn’t he know slaves were chained? That they were whipped on the back?” Takei asked.
“My parents lost everything that they worked for in the middle of their lives in their thirties. My father’s business, our home, our freedom. And we’re supposed to call that dignified?” he said, speaking of his youth in a Japanese-American internment camp.
“This man does not belong on the Supreme Court. He is an embarrassment. He is a disgrace to America.”
After outrage over his comments began to build on social media, Takei posted an explanation to his Facebook page:
“Blackface” is a lesser known theatrical term for a white actor who blackens his face to play a black buffoon. In traditional theater lingo, and in my view and intent, that is not racist. It is instead part of a racist history in this country.
I feel Justice Thomas has abdicated and abandoned his African American heritage by claiming slavery did not strip dignity from human beings. He made a similar remark about the Japanese American internment, of which I am a survivor. A sitting Justice of the Supreme Court ought to know better.
By Thursday night, the hashtag #ApologizeTakei was trending on Twitter.