George Takei found himself walking back previous comments directed at African-American Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in the wake of a disagreement over Thomas’ dissenting opinion in the landmark Marriage Equality decision last week.
As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Clarence Thomas released a dissent of the Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage, and in that statement he wrote “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.”
Thomas was pointing out the government can’t deprive people of their human dignity, regardless of the laws. Following this line of logic, Thomas also pointed out, “Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them.”
And that’s the statement that George Takei, a U.S. internment camp survivor during World War II, took issue with. In statements following the dissent, he said Justice Thomas “doesn’t belong” on the United States Supreme Court.
“He gets me that angry. And for him to say, slaves have dignity, I mean, doesn’t he know that slaves were in chains? That they were whipped on the back?… I was only a child when soldiers with bayonetted rifles marched up our driveway in Los Angeles, banged on our door, and ordered us out… I remember my mothers’ tears as we gathered what little we could carry, and then were sent to live for many weeks in a single cramped horse stall at the Santa Anita racetracks.”
Takei added that his parents “lost everything that they worked for, in the middle of their lives, in their 30’s. His business, my father’s business, our home, our freedom and we’re supposed to call that dignified? Marched out of our homes at gun point. I mean, this man does not belong on the Supreme Court. He is an embarrassment. He is a disgrace to America.”
Aside from misinterpreting Thomas’s dissent, Takei also called him a “clown in blackface,” which was picked up by many news websites, including Fox News, and it was this remark that led to Friday’s apology via his personal Facebook page in which he wrote the following.
“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.”
Justice Thomas has not issued a response at this time.