When President Biden announced his intention to fulfill a campaign promise to nominate the first Black woman for the Supreme Court, many conservatives reacted with fierce and flawed attacks. Some, such as Georgetown law professor Ilya Shapiro, even went as far as to claim his nominee, Ketanji Brown Jackson, would be seen as a “lesser Black woman.”
The immediate backlash to such racist behavior from across the political spectrum has not stopped some conservatives from attacking the president for his choice. Perennial flip-flopping South Carolina Senator Lindsay Graham said, “Biden is caving into the wishes of the far left.” His comments were mild compared to the acidic commentary that emanated from right-wing blogs and websites, much of it so vile it can’t be reprinted here.
Last week, bombastic Fox News host Tucker Carlson — scion of the Swanson frozen dinner empire — derided Judge Jackson’s first name in a fit of xenophobic immaturity, stating that “even President Biden has trouble pronouncing her name.” He perversely paraded on with his juvenile rant declaring that “Biden should release Judge Jackson’s LSAT scores” for public consumption.
Yes, you read that correctly.
Demanding we see test scores is just one example of the double standard some on the right have in their hostility toward Jackson. They did not ask to see the test scores of Trump’s three nominees, Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett. The not-so-subtle critiques of her first name are a direct message to the more bigoted right-wingers that she is not one of us — meaning a white Christian conservative.
Legendary broadcaster Dan Rather referred to Carlson’s antics as “straight up racism,” while CNN news anchor Jim Sciutto derided such behavior as “petty and offensive.” Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones called Carlson’s presumption that Black people are dumb “standard white supremacy.”
The unvarnished truth is that every person who is not White will confront the dim reality that no matter how accomplished their career has been, they will be labeled by segments of the conservative right as incompetent and lacking in qualifications. Instead of achieving success through their own hard work and intelligence, they’re painted as the recipients of preferential and undeserved treatment.
Jackson — who graduated Magna cum Laude as an undergraduate at Harvard, was the editor of the Harvard Law Review and a Supreme Court Clerk — has not been immune to such bigoted attitudes.
Remember when former President Barack Obama was chided by then reality show host and eventual president Donald Trump, a man whom even some of his own cabinet members referred to as “an idiot”? At that time, he levied the charge that President Obama was not intelligent enough to get into Columbia University and Harvard Law School with his own intellectual abilities, and demanded to see Obama’s grades. Interestingly, this is the same Trump whose own attorneys threatened legal action if the University of Pennsylvania, Trump’s alma mater, dared to make his grades and test scores available to the public. I would argue that such hypocrisy speaks volumes.
If Tucker Carlson and his right-wing comrades are so dedicated to ensuring that America is an unbridled meritocracy, maybe they should look into a mirror sometime. As the late Colin Powell argued as a guest speaker at the 1996 Republican National Convention, “There are those whose entire lives have been filled with preference and privilege, yet who want to deny others access to the same opportunities.”
I couldn’t agree more. Those who live in glass houses of privilege shouldn’t throw stones.
Copyright 2022 Elwood Watson, distributed by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate
Elwood Watson is a professor of history, Black studies, and gender and sexuality studies at East Tennessee State University. He is also an author and public speaker.