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George Takei and the left’s definition of authentic blackness

George Takei and the left’s definition of authentic blackness

You can learn from the movies.

By now you probably know that George Takei, who played Sulu in “Star Trek” and who recently married his longtime partner in a same-sex marriage, had this to say about Clarence Thomas’ declaration in his dissent in the same-sex marriage case that human dignity cannot be taken away by government, even by slavery, because it is a God-given attribute inherent in being human:

TAKEI: 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 [he is referring here to the WWII Japanese American internment camps]. 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.

I’m discussing this issue not because of George Takei himself, but because what he says is emblematic of the approach of the left to argument, and to the presence of black conservatives, who are considered a special affront worthy of particular contempt. This is certainly not the first time Clarence Thomas has endured insults of a specifically racist nature.

Most people have focused on the “clown in black face” remark. But that’s almost a distraction from the rest.

Here are some of the elements of leftist argument that Takei’s attack illustrates:

(1) A misunderstanding of our country’s history and most fundamental principles, including those of the Declaration of Independence…
(2) that is either through ignorance or through purposeful misrepresentation…
(3) expressed in a manner that pits one person’s oppression against another, saying in effect that “you don’t understand my oppression, and you don’t even understand that of your own people”…
(4) and concluding that the other person is not a “real” exemplar of his very own race or ethnic group, because he/she does not march in lockstep with the leftist politics deemed suitable for that race.

Less important, but still of interest, is the fact that Takei thinks Clarence Thomas should learn about slavery (as Sulu seems to have done) through the movies, and then he’d really know about it in a more authentic way. I don’t think Takei is alone in his study of history via movies, either, or his recommendation that Thomas could learn from them.

Thomas, that is, whose actual (i.e. real life) history is as follows:

Clarence Thomas was born in 1948 in Pin Point, Georgia, a small, predominantly black community near Savannah founded by freedmen after the American Civil War. He was the second of three children born to M.C. Thomas, a farm worker, and Leola Williams, a domestic worker. They were descendants of American slaves, and the family spoke Gullah as a first language…[Thomas’ father] left his family when Thomas was two years old. Thomas’ mother worked hard but was sometimes paid only pennies per day. She had difficulty putting food on the table and was forced to rely on charity. After a house fire left them homeless, Thomas and his younger brother Myers were taken to live with his mother’s parents in Savannah, Georgia…

Living with his grandparents, Thomas enjoyed amenities such as indoor plumbing and regular meals for the first time in his life. His grandfather Myers Anderson had little formal education, but had built a thriving fuel oil business that also sold ice. Thomas calls his grandfather “the greatest man I have ever known.” When Thomas was 10, Anderson started taking the family to help at a farm every day from sunrise to sunset. His grandfather believed in hard work and self-reliance; he would counsel Thomas to “never let the sun catch you in bed.” Thomas’ grandfather also impressed upon his grandsons the importance of getting a good education.

Thomas was the only black person at his high school in Savannah, where he was an honor student…

At a nun’s suggestion, Thomas attended the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. While there, Thomas helped found the Black Student Union. Once he walked out after an incident in which black students were punished while white students went undisciplined for committing the same violation, and some of the priests negotiated with the protesting black students to re-enter the school.

Having spoken the Gullah language as a child, Thomas realized in college that he still sounded unpolished despite having been drilled in grammar at school, and he chose to major in English literature “to conquer the language”.

That’s the man Takei is lecturing about oppression, slavery, and indignity. But hey, because Thomas is a conservative—and because he doesn’t think a right to same-sex marriage is enshrined in the Constitution—it’s open season on him and he’s not a real black man. Leftists like to say they champion the rights of black people, but the only true black people are the ones who toe the party line.

[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]


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OMG I am truly illiterate. I didn’t realize what my public school education did to me. I am shocked. It is no wonder that the Federal government has slowly taken over public schools.

Nothing says #NoH8 like calling a Supreme Court Justice, the direct descendant of slaves, who overcame nearly every disadvantage that anyone could face, a poor excuse for a ni**er. Our Tolerance Enforcers are the most intolerant and hateful of all. Especially when they can’t even be bothered to learn about the man or read what the man actually said. They don’t care and can’t be thoughtful or humble enough to extend the respect they demand for themselves to anyone who disagrees with them. The very definition of hypocrites.

VaGentleman | July 3, 2015 at 7:36 pm

As usual, lacking a rational argument, the left resorts to ad hominem attacks. Describing George Takei’s life achievement as a queer in costume trying to convince us that he can fly around the universe in a star ship is no more or less racist than his description of Clarence Thomas as “a clown in black face sitting on the Supreme Court”.
If George is truly angry about the immoral actions perpetrated against his family and Justice Thomas’s family by the US Gov’t, he should condemn the Democrat party, which did the deeds he claims to despise, and not one of its victims. That would be the just, honorable thing to do. But don’t hold your breath waiting.
In the new world of victimhood, anger has replaced fact and logic as the decider of truth. As in “The Ride of the Valkyries”, each angry recitation of the injustice rises in volume until it reaches a crescendo where the day is carried by angry denunciation and justice is supposedly served. But even in his moment of triumph, George can’t let go of his anger. Sulu has sunk SoLow.
Liberalism destroys everything and everyone it touches.

civil truth | July 3, 2015 at 7:38 pm

But this dispute over dignity is precisely the fulcrum of the SSM ruling. Dignity, as has been understood from at least the time of the Greeks, is something that people inherently possess by virtue of their humanity. It’s inalienable. Others by their actions can act to violate that dignity, but those actions neither increase nor decrease dignity.

Conversely, the dignity argument for SSM seems to rest on the assumption that dignity is something which the state (and other people) give or take away by their actions – that is, it’s an external substance which others must give on demand or face punishment by coercive power. This turns dignity into a proxy for approbation, as well as a zero-sum competition.

Two radically different and irreconcilable definitions of dignity.

Ironically, the failure of Takei to even examine Thomas’ position on dignity is itself, by Takei’s own definition, and act of taking away Thomas’ “dignity” (as Takei defines it).

Takei’s comments also reflect the shallow, emotion-wrought thinking so prevalent on the his community today. He trades on his one-time name recognition to launch ad hominem attacks on a man whose legal reasoning puts him in the top 10 all-time great Justices.

    Neo in reply to SeniorD. | July 4, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    George Takei has “jumped the shark”

    He asked for it and he got it
    He is now equal .. to all those other bigots and racists

    If you prick us, do we not bleed?
    If you tickle us, do we not laugh?
    If you poison us, do we not die?
    And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?

With the left thinking that all blacks should be liberal Democrats, I guess I must assume all Democrats are Black?

Oh I’m so confused!

MouseTheLuckyDog | July 3, 2015 at 8:40 pm

George Takei is not on the list of most liked actors on Trek. That list being made by fans of ST.

William Shatner was accused of being a ham in the series. ( Hey part of that was the script.) As time went on people grew to think of him as sort of obnoxious and a jerk. I’m sorry whatever he is, it is hard to describe. Maybe bloviating. He initially was a little of it, but it seems like at some time he picked up on that perspective and has been playing it for comic value. ( Similar to Dean Martin’s supposed alcoholism. )

Takei has a similar repuation, the problem is that he is not playing it up for a joke. He takes himself quite seriously.

Really no one familiar with Trek or him takes him seriously, except himself.

Silly bugger, waiting for some Great White Father in Washington to toss gifts to the rabble isn’t “dignity”.

“Dignity” has nothing to do with the hand one is dealt, but everything to do with how one subsequently plays it.

DINORightMarie | July 3, 2015 at 11:21 pm

Am I the only one who sees this as sickeningly ironic? Hypocrisy, or blindness, you decide:

Takei should, of all people, see that judicial tyranny is dangerous, that such huge national decisions should not be made by 5 robed Houdinis. After all, it was SCOTUS who decided Korematsu who declared that what was done to him and his family, to all those Japanese-Americans, was Constitutional……

The tyranny the danger, in such decisions, like Dred Scott in the 1850’s, one would think would shout from him; the rulings of a tyrannical judicial oligarchy should be anathema to him.

Sold out to ideology……too far gone to see? Hmmm…..

Juba Doobai! | July 3, 2015 at 11:25 pm

Takei has a hell of a nerve. America’s racist history? Has Takei looked at Japan? Racist to the core. It’s not easy for a black person to get a job in Japan. I know. I tried. America isn’t perfect, no country is, but she set up a system of laws based on the equality of all—Democrats violated that from the founding of the country. What does Japan have to show? The Rape of Nanking?

Like Clarence Thomas, I don’t need some racist of Japanese ancestry (I repeat myself) to tell me how to be black or what political positions I should support because of the color of my skin. It is deeply racist to assume that one’s color and politics are linked, as Takei does. It is deeply racist to claim that one’s political philosophy strips one of one’s race—a factor of biology, as Takei does.

Takei is a homosexual, a bigot, a racist. He thinks that because his homosexuality defines his life, his existence, that all black people allow color to define us, that Justice Thomas allows it to define him.

Non-apology not accepted Takei. Use your head for something besides head.

The MSM says negative comments against fudge packers are not allowed …

Another great post neo. This one helps clarify Progressive “thinking” patterns and also reveals the zero-sum one-upmanship whining of the kvetching crowd.

These whiners, Takei under the lights here, sadly believe that self-pity disguised in straw man’s clothing will generate empathy for their personal cause célèbre. So, they scowl at the moon or at least someone’s moon for more face time.

From this short bio it appears that Clarence Thomas has always had his feet firmly on the ground while Weightless Takei floats between hissy fits, no gravitas holding him to earth.

Takei will soon arrive at his final frontier and meet his Maker, the Maker who doesn’t accept movie roles or closing credits. The Maker only accepts His Son’s endorsement.

Someone needs to remind George that he is a washed up “B” list actor that had one decent role in his career.

The NYT recently implied that insulting Christians was permissible because Christians do not complain impolitely (as opposed to some middle eastern Muslims). Perhaps it is time for conservatives to show up at events with the proverbial “rotten tomatoes”.

    Daiwa in reply to kjon. | July 4, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    The NYT is basically saying, “Until you start killing folks for insulting you, you Christians are effed.” Matters not, however, as simple demographics will assure the eventual establishment of Sharia, whether we choose to resist it or not. And our government has chosen not to resist; in fact, for all intents and purposes, to aid and arm it. Hard for me to imagine how this administration could be any more invested in the demise of the Republic if its leaders were publicly avowed Muslims.

Juba Doobai! | July 4, 2015 at 7:19 pm

Hunh? That’s what they want? Ok. We can arrange that. We’ll start with rotten tomatoes and take it from there.