Nominated the day after the violent Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, Kristen Clarke is caught in the crosshairs of conservative theatrics. Questions concerning her fitness or “suitability” to serve as assistant attorney general have little to do with concerns of her qualifications.
Bloomberg Law reported Clarke has promised that under her leadership, the Civil Rights Division would be a leader in addressing systemic racism and injustice.
“We’re emerging from 2020, a year in which we experienced a national reckoning with racism and hate and other problems tearing at the fabric of communities across our country,” Clarke said. “The Justice Department stands to play an important role in moving our nation forward.”
Senators like Ted Cruz and Mike Lee fed into post-election rhetoric that fueled attacks on democracy. Objections made by Cruz and Lee do not come with good faith concerns, but an attempt to derail progress.
During Merrick Garland’s confirmation hearing last month, questions were raised about Clarke inviting a controversial Black Wellesley professor to speak to Harvard’s Black Student Association in 1994. The late Tony Martin reached out to Clarke at a time when she and other students found themselves fighting back against racist arguments such as those made in the book “The Bell Curve.” But Martin’s work included antisemitic rhetoric and opinions.
In an interview with the Jewish outlet “The Forward”, Clarke said she denounced Martin’s rhetoric and regrets ever inviting him to campus to speak. Few are held to the standard of decisions they made as young college coeds.
Cruz, Lee, and many of their congressional colleagues argued against alleged bad acts in college and high school being considered during the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. They don’t even want to be held to the standard of their behavior in the past several months.
On the frontlines of voting rights and criminal justice Clarke is widely respected in her field. As the president and executive director of the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights Under the Law, Clarke has led one of the country’s premier civil rights organizations.
She brings twenty years of experience in civil rights enforcement and advocacy. Clarke’s enforcement experience is an asset at a time when hate crimes along with white nationalist violence have been on the rise.
In September 2020, Clark wrote a CNN op-ed admonishing the Trump Administration’s mishandling of the division. She pointed to several instances of the prior administration subverting the division’s purpose.
Clarke has made it clear that she will address white supremacy and racial violence head one. “We need this administration to make fighting white supremacy, confronting racial violence, addressing police violence and tackling rampant voter suppression topline priorities,” Clarke said during a virtual meeting before her nomination.
Anoa Changa is a movement journalist and retired attorney based in Atlanta, Georgia. Follow Anoa on Instagram and Twitter @thewaywithanoa.
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