I wrote this morning about the ugly racist comments that Kristen Clarke, Joe Biden choice to head the Civil Rights Division of all things, made while she was a student at Harvard. I also pointed out that Clarke invited a notorious anti-Semite to speak at Harvard and then endorsed his attacks on Jews.
Clarke’s defenders will no doubt emphasize that she did these things as a student. They will insist that her student writings shouldn’t factor into a decision about her fitness for office so many years later.
I’m not sure there’s a statute of limitations on the hate-filled behavior of anyone old enough to attend college — not for the head civil rights job at the Department of Justice. Furthermore, I will show in my next post about Clarke that she remains a racist, though perhaps less virulently so.
The point I want to highlight in this post is that Kristen Clarke has a very clear position on the racially offensive and/or insensitive college writings of presidential nominees. She believes they are disqualifying.
That position is set forth in this letter that was sent to members of the Senate in 2018. The letter is signed by Vanita Gupta, Biden’s selection for the number three job at the Justice Department.
It was sent on behalf of the so-called Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights. Kristen Clarke was part of the Leadership Conference and her name appears on the letterhead of Gupta’s “Dear Senator” letter.
Here, in part, is what Gupta, Clarke, and the others said about Ryan Bounds, President Trump’s nominee for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals:
When he was a student at Stanford University in the 1990s, Mr. Bounds wrote a series of op-eds in the Stanford Review, a conservative newspaper. He was highly critical of his classmates who joined racial affinity groups and of university efforts to make students of color feel welcome on the historically discriminatory and nondiverse campus. Mr. Bounds didn’t just criticize such efforts, he did so with a mix of insensitivity and disdain that calls into question his temperament and ability to be impartial. On at least two occasions, he likened the university’s multicultural efforts to Nazi Germany.
Would an apology or a retraction make Bounds an acceptable nominee? Not according to Gupta and Clarke:
While [Bounds] recently apologized for those comments, the timing of that apology suggests it is one of convenience rather than remorse, offered in a last-ditch effort to salvage his nomination and win the support of his home-state senators.
Note that, even as a student, Bounds never endorsed the view that one racial group is superior to the other. Clarke did.
And Bounds never attacked a religion. Clarke brought to campus a notorious anti-Semite who did just that. Then, she endorsed his views as “base[d] on indisputable facts.”
Bounds’ views on the desirability of racial affinity groups were substantially less toxic than Clarke’s Black Supremacist writings. Nonetheless, they led to the withdrawal of his nomination by President Trump.
Let’s hope that Clarke’s nomination is also withdrawn and, if not, that it is defeated on a bipartisan basis.