The Biden Nomination of Kristen Clarke To Be Assistant Attorney General For Civil Rights

Biden Promise

Kristen Clarke is the African American attorney who Joe Biden announced will run the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice, pending Senate confirmation.

From FOX News:

In 1994, Clarke wrote a letter to The Harvard Crimson in her capacity as the president of the Black Students Association to explain her views on race science.

“Please use the following theories and observations to assist you in your search for truth regarding the genetic differences between Blacks and whites [sic],” Clarke wrote.

“One: Dr Richard King reveals that the core of the human brain is the ‘locus coeruleus,’ which is a structure that is Black, because it contains large amounts of neuro-melanin, which is essential for its operation.

“Two: Black infants sit, crawl and walk sooner than whites [sic].

Three: Carol Barnes notes that human mental processes are controlled by melanin — that same chemical which gives Blacks their superior physical and mental abilities.

“Four: Some scientists have revealed that most whites [sic] are unable to produce melanin because their pineal glands are often calcified or non-functioning. Pineal calcification rates with Africans are five to 15 percent [sic], Asians 15 to 25 percent [sic] and Europeans 60 to 80 percent [sic]. This is the chemical basis for the cultural differences between blacks and whites [sic].

“Five: Melanin endows Blacks with greater mental, physical and spiritual abilities — something which cannot be measured based on Eurocentric standards.”

The technical term for such a screed is “Yikes!”

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Comment Of The Day: “Friday PM Ethics Discoveries, 5/15/2020: … Reasonable Discrimination Opposed [Item #5]” [Corrected]

The 5th item in yesterday’s Warm-Up sparked a lot of debate, and a number of Comment of the Day candidates (another is on the way.) That was the post about the white police officer suing on the basis of employment discrimination because his superior told him that the community controversy over the police-involved shooting of a black man had made it essential to hire a black police chief.

Here is Glenn Logan’s Comment of the Day on Item #5 in “Friday PM Ethics Discoveries, 5/15/2020: A Coup Option On The Way Out, A Narrative Reappears, Trump Tweets, Reasonable Discrimination Opposed, And More}:

You said: The community has a potentially explosive race problem, and hiring O’Toole would exacerbate it. They need a qualified black officer in the job. If that violates the Missouri Human Rights Act as O’Toole’s lawsuit claims, the Act needs to be fixed.

Tools of ethical decision-making: Continue reading

Ethics Dunce: “Saturday Night Live” Cast Member Jay Pharoah

Maya Rudolph being Oprah, being funny, and nothing else should matter.

Maya Rudolph being Oprah, being funny, and nothing else should matter.

In a spontaneous call for more black cast members to be added to NBC’s long-running late-night satire show, “Saturday Night Live,”  veteran cast member Jay Pharoah told an entertainment reporter that he wanted the producers to add actress Darmira Brunson. “Why do I think she should be on the show? Because she’s black first of all, and she’s really talented,” Pharoah said. “She’s amazing. She needs to be on ‘SNL.'”

By logic, rights and justice, Pharoah should be fired for such a statement. He is pushing his show, and therefore his producers and his bosses, into a controversy that they neither want, need, nor deserve. Sure enough, his comments have already ignited debate and commentary in major dailies and in the blogosphere. He can’t be fired, of course—no producer in Hollywood would dare fire a black performer for advocating politically correct causes like diversity and affirmative action, no matter how inappropriate and unfair his comments were—and Pharoah knows that. Breaking reasonable rules of the workplace—criticizing your own boss in public and causing trouble for your employer are pretty basic taboos—because you know you’re immune from punishment doesn’t make the conduct any better.

He’s not the producer, and casting isn’t part of his job. To announce his own candidate for a hire is as outrageous and out-of-bounds as for a Pentagon general to tell reporters who President Obama should appoint as his Secretary of Defense.

Then there is the  statement itself, which in the context of entertainment and show business, is an endorsement of racial bias and discrimination, even more than with most workplace diversity and affirmative action advocacy. “Because she’s black first of all?” First of all must only be “because she’s funny, and the funniest female comic available.” Saturday Night Live’s goal, which it fitfully achieves, is to make its audience laugh. If Brunson is the best performer to accomplish that, then it makes sense to hire her. Her skin color is irrelevant, except to the extent that it opens up comic opportunities for the show. Otherwise, Brunson is pressuring his employers to hire Brunson over  superior white, Hispanic or Asian performers because of some theoretical diversity formula.

The resulting media focus on the imaginary problem to which Pharoah’s comments alluded is full of reflections, names and statistics, but the basic facts are these:

  • Professional performance comedy is completely utilitarian: if a cast entirely made up of black performers of any gender mix could be shown to be the optimum way to get laughs, ratings and make money for the network and SNL’s producers, that’s what we would have.
  • A funny, talented, improvisational skilled black actress has obvious benefits for a weekly satire show, as the reign of Maya Rudolph amply demonstrated.  There is no reason to presume that the producers would not immediately hire such a performer if one was available.
  • The pool of top-rate improvisational comic actors in general isn’t large (if it were, SNL would be funny more often), the pool of such performers who are African-American is much smaller, and the number of female black improvisational comics is tiny. When the African-American Wayans brothers wrote and produced their own satire show (Jim Carrey was the token white), they included only one full-time black female in the cast, and she was their sister (also the weak link in the cast.)

We can argue about the general principle of affirmative action at another time and place, but applying them to entertainment, sports or any field that must be a pure meritocracy is irresponsible and unfair. Saturday Night Live “needs” funny, talented performers who its audience finds funny…like, say, Eddie Murray. It does not need any black performer, male or female, just to have more black performers, and to take away performing and career opportunities from superior performers whose sole deficit is skin color or ethnicity while simultaneously getting fewer laughs and lower ratings.

Oddly, nobody has ever argued that Saturday Night Live discriminates against improvisational comic actors over the age of 35. Only once has it cast an actor of that age—Randy Quaid, in 1985. 1985 was also the most disastrous and unpopular season in the show’s history. Why no middle age or senior cast hires?  The reasons are legion: 1) Improv comedy is demanding physically and psychologically. Few older performers practice it, or are capable of doing it on a regular basis. 2) SNL’s audience is very young (as well as very male and white). Comedy is generational. 3) Older performers are seldom “new faces.” The ensemble’s called the “Not Ready For Prime Time Players” for a reason. 4) Young actors playing older real life figures and comic characters can be funny; old actors playing younger celebrities or characters is seldom funny, and often creepy. Age diversity, in brief, would not improve Saturday Night Live. Diversity is only an asset to the extent that it allows more comic opportunities. The U.S. does not require, not should ikt ask for, a contemporary satire TV show that “looks like America.” What  it needs is a show that is good.

All of which makes Pharoah’s comments irresponsible, unfair, disloyal, and racially offensive.

And not funny.


Sources: Washington Post, Policy Mic

Graphic: Hello Giggles