Kristen Clarke, President-elect Joe Biden’s nominee for Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division, is a disastrous choice. Clarke has a long record of making racially charged-comments, going back to her time in college and continuing to this day. She also has spoken out in favor of anti-Semites. Back in college, Clarke led a student group that provided an anti-Semitic professor a platform to spew his vile remarks. Much more recently, Clarke supported an advocate of the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. If Clarke’s name is not withdrawn from consideration, the Senate must reject her nomination.
Back in the day when Clarke served as the president of the Black Students Association (BSA) at Harvard, she co-authored a letter to the Harvard Crimson asserting that blacks are born with “superior physical and mental abilities.” It’s all due to the chemical melanin, Clarke claimed, which “endows [b]lacks with greater mental, physical and spiritual abilities — something which cannot be measured based on Eurocentric standards.” The Harvard Crimson editors at the time called for Clarke to resign her position at the BSA unless she was “prepared to retract her statements, and apologize publicly for making them.” The furthest that Clarke was willing to go at that time was stating that “The information [contained in the letter] is not necessarily something we believe.” [Emphasis added] There was no public retraction back then.
Clarke also invited the late Wellesley Professor of Africana Studies Anthony Martin to speak at a 1994 Black Students Association-sponsored event. Clarke’s guest used his time to slander Jews with the accusation that Jews had a “tradition” of persecuting blacks. “There was a Jewish monopoly over Blacks being cursed,” Martin said during his address.
Clarke defended the choice of Martin to speak after receiving criticism from the Harvard-Radcliffe Hillel. “Professor Martin is an intelligent, well-versed Black intellectual who bases his information on indisputable fact,” Clarke said. The real indisputable fact is that Jews have put their lives on the line in the cause of the black civil rights movement. For example, Michael Schwerner and Andrew Goodman served in 1964 as voting-registration volunteers in Meridian, Mississippi and were murdered by Klansmen.
Now that Clarke is craving for the Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights position in the Biden administration, she wants a do-over. In a recent interview, Clarke said that she realizes it was a mistake to invite Martin to speak at Harvard. “Giving someone like him a platform, it’s not something I would do again,” Clarke said, adding that “I unequivocally denounce antisemitism.”
Clarke’s recantation comes way too late. If Democrats had an ounce of intellectual honesty, which they do not, Clarke’s invitation to an anti-Semitic professor to speak at Harvard when she was a student would be reason enough for them to “cancel” Clarke now. After all, Democrats in the Senate were willing to throw Trump nominees’ alleged behavior in college and high school back at them when their nominations were being considered. The worst case involved the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. But there were others as well who were targeted by the cancel culture crowd.
In any case, we don’t even have to look back at Clarke’s college days to find proof of her support for radicals who espouse anti-Semitic views. In 2018, for example, Israel denied Vincent Warren, executive director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, entry to the country because of his organization’s support for the anti-Semitic Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Clarke tweeted, “Incredibly disturbed to hear that @VinceWarren was detained and denied entry into Israel on a trip that was carefully and thoughtfully planned out over the course of several months. #CivilRights Lawyers should not be penalized for their work to promote justice.”
As for the letter to the Harvard Crimson Clarke co-authored, claiming that blacks have “superior physical and mental abilities,” Clarke is now saying that it was all a misunderstanding. She claims that the letter was intended as a satirical response to the book The Bell Curve, which posited genetic differences between whites and blacks. Clarke wants us to believe that her letter’s references to melanin as the cause of black superiority “was meant to express an equally absurd point of view — fighting one ridiculous absurd racist theory with another ridiculous absurd theory.” That’s disinformation. At the time when the letter was written, Clarke said that she was uncertain whether the melanin theory of black superiority was true or not. There wasn’t a hint of sarcasm in the letter.
Putting aside her comments about melanin back in college, Clarke certainly shows no uncertainty today in embracing critical race theory, which posits that America is inherently racist. In her capacity as president and executive director of Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, Clarke condemned the Trump administration’s decision to remove critical race theory from federal government training programs. “Our nation stands at an inflection point as communities are grappling with the ongoing threat of racism, white supremacy and police violence,” Clarke said in a statement. “President Trump’s latest federal directive is an attempt to discredit, condemn and silence important conversations happening in communities and workplaces about anti-racism and about our nation’s history of white supremacy. By banning government support for these discussions, he sends a dangerous message to the country that racism is a fallacy.”
Last year, Clarke denounced what she claims is “systemic racism that pervades every aspect of our lives, especially when it comes to policing and the operation of the criminal justice system of our country.” She supports defunding of the police. “I advocate for defunding policing operations that have made African Americans more vulnerable to police violence and contributed to mass incarceration, while investing more in programs and policies that address critical community needs,” she wrote last June for Newsweek. She called the concerns regarding the violence that broke out last year in the wake of the George Floyd killing a “distraction.”
Clearly, if Clarke were to become Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights and have her way, she would push to put the police on trial all over the country. She would also force-feed critical race theory to all federal employees and beyond. She would support the BDS movement as a civil right.
The Senate must reject Kristen Clarke’s nomination.