A few fans have written wondering whether I intended to utter a racist remark by referring to Justice Thomas as a "clown in blackface."I'll leave it to others to decide whether "blackface" is, as he suggests, not a racist term in this context. (Whether it is "a lesser known theatrical term" as well.)
"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.
I have expressed my full thoughts on the matter here.
What strikes me as more important is that he completely misses Justice Thomas' point. What does it mean to say that the slave's dignity is not harmed by the chains? It is to say that the dignity of the human soul is a high thing, so high as to be beyond the grasp of tyrants. It is to say that all the human efforts to reduce the dignity of the slaves were wasted, were foolish as much as they were wrong.
Perhaps human dignity can be surrendered, but on this account it can never be stolen. It could, perhaps, be laid down. It cannot be taken away.
That is a very positive message and a very traditional one in the Christian church, which believes the Divinely-crafted soul is the seat of dignity. Such a faith in a human dignity that could not be destroyed was the deadly message of Christianity to the slaver, the consolation of the slave, the harbinger of the abolitionist. I'm surprised to find an educated man who is deaf to Justice Thomas' message.