Photo by Timothy Clary of AFP/Getty Images
Somebody out there needs to beam George Takai to planet reality. Earlier this week in what an only be called an ignorant and racist rant, the old Trekkie had this to say of Justice Clarence Thomas in the wake of the Unites States’ Supreme Court gay marriage endorsement:
He is a clown in black face sitting on the Supreme Court. He gets me that angry. He doesn’t belong there. 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. If he saw the movie 12 Years a Slave, you know, they were raped. And he says they had dignity as slaves or – 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? 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.
Never mind that Clarence Thomas is, by all accounts, a gentleman, quite funny, downright brilliant, and demonstrably patient when it comes to people insulting him over the last 25 years, this particular statement can only be called race based, since that is the root of Georgie’s rage: a black man on the Supreme Court calling slaves and interned people- not slavery and internment as remedies to whatever problems facing the politicians of the day – dignified. Like he is an Uncle Tom or something. (Come on, the man used no crutch to achieve one of the most respected positions in any field. That’s worthy of respect, not ignorant cheap shots.)
What gets this writer angry is when ignorant people have their history so wrong, they jump to wacko conclusions.
First off, Mr. Takai, the Japanese internment was, yes, a disgrace. However, it was President Franklin D. Roosevelt, one of the Democratic Party’s patron saints, who was in charge when that happened. It is most unfortunate that the Takai family lost everything. So did many other people, really for no reason. Those who moved to the middle of the country at the time did better. But that did not take away their dignity, or their humanity. Just their belongings.
Nothing can take human dignity: not chains, not rape, not confinement, not enslavement. It is a philosophical matter that Americans understand. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ words reflect that reality.
Human dignity has long been understood in this country to be innate. When the Framers proclaimed in the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” and “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,” they referred to a vision of mankind in which all humans are created in the image of God and therefore of inherent worth. That vision is the foundation upon which this Nation was built.
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. 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.
The movie “12 Years a Slave,” which is supposedly an accurate account, is not a testament to denied dignity, but dignity’s survival in the face of crimes against humanity. Dignity is being worth honor and respect. All humans are worth honor and respect. That some fellow humans – not all by any means – do not believe that all people are worthy of honor and can earn respect is true. That those who were enslaved in the western hemisphere were, in many cases, captured in tribal warfare in western Africa, and then sold by the enemy tribes to European men with no scruples did not take the enslaveds’ dignity.
That, of course, is not the only way people became enslaved, nor was Africa the only source of human slaves. However, such ignorance, meaning not knowing, and willful denial of the facts that it was not the Democratic Party that “freed the slaves” or fought for emancipation, but the Republicans, leads people with just enough “knowledge” into intellectual danger. Thank you dumbing down of America.
Equating slavery with gay marriage and mixing empty metaphors filled with ignorance does not help the gay marriage cause. Somebody needs to tell George Takai that. Gay marriage is about reducing a societal building block to a contract. Slavery and wrongful internment are crimes against humanity. Not the same thing at all.