At the risk of sounding like a broken record — after all, what I’m going to say about Ted Cruz is something I said recently about Tucker Carlson — sometimes repetition has its virtues.
This is especially true when referring to birds of a feather who together drop their shit from telephone wires on the unsuspecting who walk beneath them.
And so, let it be proclaimed loudly and clearly: Ted Cruz is a racist asshole.
We know this because he treats Black people as interchangeable pieces on a racial chessboard who should be expected to answer for others of their group, in a way he would never expect of whites.
Cruz is also a hack, by which I mean a fraud who deliberately distorts reality for political purposes using out-of-context quotes from those with whom he disagrees to smear them and those he views as adjacent to them.
We know all of this because of how he comported himself yesterday in the Senate confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Cruz (who thirstily searched for himself on Twitter once his performance was done) demonstrated both the racism and the hackery during his allotted time to question Jackson.
Cruz’s attack on The 1619 Project was a racist and dishonest smear job
First, he quizzed the nominee about The 1619 Project because of a speech she had given in which she praised Nikole Hannah-Jones, who orchestrated the New York Times series by that name.
Cruz, noting that several historians have criticized the series, implied that Jackson’s favorable mention of it suggested she agreed with all of its contents. Presumably, this would include Hannah-Jones’s own essay for the Project, in which she argued that one reason for the American Revolution was the desire of white colonists to preserve the system of slavery.
Cruz, who thirstily searched for himself on Twitter as soon as his performance was done, demonstrated both the racism and the hackery during his allotted time to question Jackson.
Before addressing Cruz’s attack here, I want to point out that this view, though controversial, is not as outrageous as some might believe. Gerald Horne presents evidence for it in The Counterrevolution of 1776, as do Alfred and Ruth Blumrosen in their volume, Slave Nation.
I have no doubt Cruz has said favorable things about Thomas Jefferson. And yet, no one would presume that he agrees with Jefferson’s documented raping of his human property, his ownership of hundreds of Black people, or his comments about how, regarding whites and Blacks, “the two races, equally free, cannot live in the same government. Nature, habit, opinion has drawn indelible lines of distinction between them.”
Although Jefferson’s racism and rapism are infinitely more offensive than even the most uncharitable reading of Hannah-Jones, no one would seek to hold Cruz responsible for the former just because he has opined as to the greatness of the Declaration of Independence.
Yet Cruz expects this of Jackson concerning Hannah-Jones, simply because she said some kind words about the 1619 Project.
Likewise, it is inconceivable that anyone would quiz a white nominee about some speech in which they had praised the Constitution by asking how they felt about many of the framers owning other human beings and virtually all holding racist views.
Yet, in this case, Cruz has asked Jackson to justify her praise of the 1619 Project, based on one part of Hannah-Jones’s writing, which itself is only one small part of the larger work. Why, other than the two women’s shared race, would Jackson be expected to do such a thing?
The difference, driven home by Cruz this week, is clear — it’s racism.
White people can say and do racist things, and other white people don’t have to answer for them, even if those secondary white people have praised the first group.
But if Black people write things that merely offend your historical perspective, any Black person who has said something nice about the offending writer can be called on the carpet for it and interrogated like a common criminal.
Got it, racist, thanks.
Cruz’s attack on Ibram X. Kendi’s books was equally dishonest (and racist)
Cruz then did the same thing — seeking to hold one Black person accountable for another — in his discussion of Ibram X. Kendi’s work in the children’s books Antiracist Baby and Stamped (for Kids).
The link between Jackson and Kendi? None really, except that Jackson sits on the Board of Trustees for Georgetown Day School, a progressive private school in DC, and Kendi’s books are among several that GDS either uses in class or has referenced in recent years in some of their racial equity initiatives.
(Apparently) if Black people write things that offend your historical perspective, any Black person who has said something nice about the offending writer can be called on the carpet for it and interrogated like a common criminal
For Cruz, whose own daughters attend a private school in Houston that also recommends and uses Kendi’s work, this was enough of a link to grill Jackson about her views of it, or at least his dishonest caricature of that material.
Cruz notes that according to Antiracist Baby, children are either “taught racism or antiracism, there is no neutrality.” To Cruz, this suggests that kids are natural-born racists, and he asked Jackson her view about that, even though that isn’t what Kendi is arguing — quite the opposite.
As per the research on this matter, he insists that racism is taught. By not deliberately instilling antiracist thinking in young people, they will grow up to participate actively or passively in racism.
While one might find that hard to hear, it’s undeniable. Historically, that’s precisely what has happened.
Most white Americans, for instance, were not enslavers, owners of segregated businesses, or terrorists who attacked sit-in protesters. But most white people sat by and never actively fought against enslavement or segregation either. Most went along. Kendi’s point is that this is not neutrality. It is passive but real and meaningful participation in evil.
Cruz may not like the sound of it. But that doesn’t make it untrue.
And the fact that one Black person said it in a book on a reading list at a school on whose board Jackson serves doesn’t mean she should have to address it at all. Likewise, she also shouldn’t be expected to weigh in on Hemingway’s alcoholism and propensity for violence if the school teaches A Farewell to Arms.
So too, when Cruz turned to Kendi’s book for teens, Stamped (for Kids) — a version of his award-winning volume Stamped from the Beginning — he distorted its contents while expecting Jackson to weigh in on them.
For instance, Cruz notes, with much indignation, that Stamped (for Kids), which Kendi co-authored with Jason Reynolds, includes the line, “Can we send white people back to Europe?”
Of course, he ignores the context of this sentence, which, if read correctly, would change the author’s meaning from what Cruz implies (that Kendi is an anti-white bigot) to what he intended.
And what is that? By reading the entire passage, it’s obvious: namely, to tell people of color to “go back” where they came from — something they hear often — is absurd because they are as much a part of America as white folks.
Kendi and Reynolds were trying to make that point by asking how white people would feel if, for instance, Indigenous persons asked, “can we send white people back to Europe?”
It wasn’t meant to endorse European repatriation. It was meant to demonstrate the absurdity of racism.
And Ted Cruz knows that.
Cruz’s claims of Judge Jackson’s link to Critical Race Theory is peak bullshit
Likewise, Cruz knows Judge Brown doesn’t use Critical Race Theory in sentencing decisions. But he suggested as much when he displayed a poster board with a snippet of a sentence from one of her speeches, in which she noted how criminal sentencing policy raises all kinds of issues, including those posed by Critical Race Theory.
It is obvious to any honest observer that Jackson was talking about how sentencing policy raises the kinds of questions about racial injustice that CRT has long addressed.
And that’s true.
The history of sentencing policy obviously raises these issues.
From how rape and sexual assault were treated when committed by Black men as opposed to white men to modern-day differences in sentencing for powder instead of crack cocaine, such issues have been raised.
Critical Race Theory has long pointed out the consistency of such disparities to suggest that racism in the law has functioned more as a feature than a system glitch.
Jackson was reflecting on that inarguable point, which emanates from CRT but is understood by most anyone who has observed criminal sentencing in America.
However, to Cruz, Jackson was suggesting she used CRT when handing down sentences in court. As if she would listen to the trial, then sneak off to chambers, open up a book by Derrick Bell or get on the phone with Kimberlé Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, or Mari Matsuda and seek advice on what to do with the defendant in front of her.
Again, as with his distortions of Hannah-Jones’s work and Kendi’s, this is a ridiculous reading of Judge Jackson’s comment, and Ted Cruz knows it. Since he has no doubt read the full text of the various quotes he snipped and blew up onto poster boards for the hearing, his representation of those statements cannot be seen as anything other than deceptive.
In short, Ted Cruz is fully aware of precisely how full of shit Ted Cruz is.
Which, by now, is possibly the one thing he has in common with most of America, regardless of political party.