After a week of defending his remarks, George Takei finally apologized today for calling Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas a “clown in blackface. ”
Takei went on the racist rant Monday during an interview in Phoenix, in response to Thomas’ comments regarding the Supreme Court decision on gay marriage:
“He is a clown in blackface sitting on the Supreme Court. He gets me that angry. He doesn’t belong there,” Takei said, later adding, “This man does not belong on the Supreme Court. He is an embarrassment. He is a disgrace to America. I’ll say it on camera.”
Clarence Thomas, the grandson of a sharecropper who grew up in the racist Democrat Jim Crow South, managed to work his way to the nation’s highest court — but only after the appalling food-fight that masqueraded as his confirmation hearings. In 1991 his left-wing critics created a public image of Thomas as a clown — calling him an Uncle Tom and a sexual harasser. His actual crime, however, was that he was a conservative black and a potential vote on the Supreme Court that would limit or end legal abortion in America. In 2015, his gauche opposition to same sex marriage makes him equally infuriating to leftists.
Takei, who is most known for playing the character “Sulu” on Star Trek, spent the week trying to justify his racist remarks — with plenty of encouragement from his fans on social media who didn’t think he needed to apologize.
A few fans have written wondering whether I intended to utter a racist remark by referring to Justice Thomas as a “clown in blackface.”
“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.
That statement, not surprisingly, failed to quell his critics.
On Friday, he returned to Facebook, again with an explicit apology coupled with an attempt to justify his verbal assault by asserting the absolute moral authority of “a survivor of the Japanese American internment.”
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 4t, 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.
Takei’s Facebook fans continue to maintain that he has nothing to apologize about.