Boston University Professor Is Urged to Resign for Calling Amy Coney Barrett a ‘White Colonizer’ Who is Using Her Two Adopted Haitian Children as ‘Props’
Ariel Zilber, et al., Daily Mail, September 27, 2020
A Boston University professor who said President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee was a racist ‘white colonizer’ for adopting two black children from Haiti and using them as ‘props’ while ‘cutting the biological parents out of the picture’ is being urged to resign.
The controversial charge was leveled at Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Saturday by Ibram X. Kendi, a professor of history and the director and founder of Boston University’s Center for Antiracist Research.
‘Some White colonizers “adopted” Black children,’ Kendi wrote on Twitter.
‘They “civilized” these “savage” children in the “superior” ways of White people, while using them as props in their lifelong pictures of denial, while cutting the biological parents of these children out of the picture of humanity.’
Kendi was responding to a tweet that included a picture of Barrett’s sister, Carrie, holding children who were not adopted by the judge.
Kendi tweeted in response: ‘And whether this is Barrett or not is not the point.
‘It is a belief too many White people have: if they have or adopt a child of color, then they can’t be racist.’
‘I’m challenging the idea that White parents of kids of color are inherently “not racist” and the bots completely change what I’m saying to “White parents of kids of color are inherently racist.”
‘These live and fake bots are good at their propaganda. Let’s not argue with them.’
Kendi, whose tweets sparked an online backlash over the weekend, is the author of a bestselling book called How to Be an Antiracist.
He was slammed for suggesting that white parents who adopt black children do so to shield themselves from charges of racism.
Chris Viegas called for Boston University to fire Kendi, tweeting: ‘You are not worthy!’
Another Twitter user suggested Kendi was promoting the same argument that white supremacists use to discourage adoption of black children.
Chloe Valdary tweeted: ‘Are you suggesting that any white family who adopts black children are colonizers and that interracial adoption is somehow evil? Please clarify because if this is your position, it’s an evil one.’
Another Twitter user agreed, writing: ‘Generalizations like this are both hurtful and wrong. How can we create a multiracial, tolerant and learning society with statements such as this.’
Another Twitter user wrote: ‘You should show us where in our society some non-Racism has been achieved so at least we have something to move forward toward.
‘Instead you give us racism as the fundamental element of all human interaction in our society while you enjoy success at the pinnacle of the status quo.’
Podcaster Katie Herzog tweeted: ‘My first act as an anti-racist will be sending my black son back to the orphanage.’
Journalist Glenn Greenwald, who is an adoptive parent of children of color, tweeted: ‘Adoption is one of the most beautiful things that exists in the world, and while – like everything, including biological families – it can foster abuse, casually insinuating that for adoptive parents is despicable.’
Some on social media did support Kendi’s assertion that white adoptive parents could be racist.
‘Hello I am one of those Black kids adopted by White people!’ tweeted Rayme Cornell.
‘MY PARENTS ARE RACIST!!! Try asking those of us who are living it!’
Emily Santiago tweeted: ‘So many white people adopt BIack children and use them as props on social media.
‘Look at the tragic case of Devonte Hart and his siblings.
‘I have a biracial child but that doesn’t mean I’m not racist, it takes work everyday to counter white supremacy values.’
Devonte Hart, 12, and his five black adopted siblings were killed by their white parents, Jennifer and Sarah Hart, in a murder-suicide in which they drove their SUV off a cliff in Northern California in March 2018.
Republicans rushed to defend Barrett, whom Trump has named to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court, after she came under attack on social media from a Democratic activist who called for an investigation into the adoption of the two Haitian children.
‘I would love to know which adoption agency Amy Coney Barrett & her husband used to adopt the two children they brought here from Haiti,’ Dana Houle wrote.
Barrett, a devout Catholic, has seven children – five biological and two adopted. Her youngest child also has Down Syndrome.
‘So here’s a Q: does the press even investigate details of Barrett’s adoptions from Haiti? Some adoptions from Haiti were legit. Many were sketchy as hell. And if press learned they were unethical & maybe illegal adoptions, would they report it? Or not because it involves her children,’ Houle added.
‘Would it matter if her kids were scooped up by ultra-religious Americans , or Americans weren’t scrupulous intermediaries and the kids were taken when there was a family in Haiti? I dunno, I think it does, but maybe it doesn’t or shouldn’t.’
Houle was immediately criticized for the comments and quickly set her Twitter account to private before apologizing for the remarks.
They were screenshot, however, and widely shared as the political battle over the Supreme Court seat continued.
‘Democrats, If you attack Amy Coney Barrett’s kids who we’re(sic) adopted from Haiti like this Democrat staffer did, we will never, and I mean never, forgive or forget it, wrote user Robby Starbuck.
‘This is disgusting,’ one person wrote while another claimed ‘countdown until you delete this massive piece of s*** tweet’.
‘Democrats going after Amy Coney Barrett for adopting two of her children from Haiti. My God,’ said Kyle Kashuv.
Other people who had been on Trump’s list of potential nominees also chimed in.
‘Read this from Democrat activist & Hill staffer. Questioning whether #AmyConeyBarrett *illegally* adopted her children from Haiti, maybe snatching them from birth parents! This is the Dem gameplan. Nothing but raw bigotry and hate. I promise you, this will not stand,’ wrote Senator Josh Hawley.
‘It was the most predictable thing in the world that Democrats would attack Amy Coney Barrett’s children,’ added Senator Tom Cotton.
‘”Nice children you’ve got. Shame if something happened to them.” You know what you’re doing is disgusting. You know it’s indefensible and wrong,’ wrote journalist Mollie Hemingway.
‘Stop doing it immediately. Have the barest amount of decency as a human and stop going after children for political reasons.’
‘Her children look pretty darn happy, so why don’t you crawl back under your rock and search your soul. Ask yourself how YOU could make this world a better place for a child w/o a family to call her own,’ added another Twitter user.
Others called Houle ‘awful’ and ‘f*****g evil as hell’.
‘What a poisonous spirit you have. You are vile to the depths of your shriveled heart. Your hatred and spite will destroy you if you don’t change,’ said account @RuthWilliams1.
Some conservative commentators said the comments on the adoption are why Trump should be elected for a second term.
‘Democrat scumbag @danahoule is going after ACB’s adopted black children. @TheDemocrats are vile. Vote @realDonaldTrump,’ said Sebastian Gorka.
Houle was not the only person to question the adoption.
‘I wonder if the President knows that two of Amy Coney Barrett’s children are immigrants from Haiti. How fortunate we are to have them in our country,’ wrote Joanna Caplan.
Another Democratic activist also called it into question.
‘As an adoptee, I need to know more about the circumstances of how Amy Coney Barrett came to adopt her children, and the treatment of them since,’ wrote John Lee Brougher, who also made his account private after backlash.
‘Transracial adoption is fraught with trauma and potential for harm, and everything I see here is deeply concerning.’
‘Not only was my grandma a product of rape, she was adopted. Her adoptive family were and are incredible people,’ answered an account named @VF.
‘How dare you politicize adoption or question treatment without any valid reason. Going private after posting this shit is cowardly’.
Ahead of her nomination, Barratt had drawn strong criticism from Democrats who have attacked her faith, and have labeled her an ‘extremist’ over her views on abortion.
But it lead to Republicans leaping to her defense.
Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted: ‘If liberal actually cared about empowering women, they’d be applauding Judge Amy Coney Barrett – a working mom with impeccable legal credentials – not denigrating her with bigoted attacks on her Christian faith’.
Other highlighted the adoption as proof of her good credentials.
‘With 2 adopted children from Haiti, it is going to be interesting to watch the Democrats try to smear Amy Coney Barrett as racist,’ said Tea Party Patriots co-founder Jenny Beth Martin.
‘I want to know what these people think Amy Coney Barrett’s sinister motive would be to adopt kids from Haiti. I mean spell it out. Even if you’re against interracial adoption, what makes you think she’s evil for doing it? I mean come on,’ wrote journalist Jonah Goldberg.
‘Dems have descended to new low. A dem strategist is actually attacking #AmyConeyBarrett by suggesting something sinister in the adoption of her children from Haiti. Wow. America should never forget this,’ added Trish Regan.
‘List of Bad Things About Amy Coney Barrett: 1. She’s a devout Catholic 2. Two of her children were adopted from Haiti. The MONSTER,’ joked one user.
Others, however, backed the questions about the adoption process.
‘Yes. @SenateDems should investigate this,’ answered one account.
Barrett, a 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge, was already considered a likely selection, and had met with the president this week and during a prior round of consideration for the last open seat.
Trump officially nominated Barrett to serve on the United States Supreme Court during a Rose Garden ceremony at the White House on Saturday.
‘Today is it my pleasure to nominate one of our nation’s most brilliant and gifted legal minds,’ Trump said, making his nomination official as Barrett stood to his side.
Barrett had been a leading contender for the nomination, having been considered for the seat now occupied by Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who was confirmed in 2018.
She entered the Rose Garden in lock step with the president, with her seven children and husband and first lady Melania Trump not far behind.
‘This should be a straighforward and prompt confirmation,’ Trump said with a laugh, adding, ‘Good luck. We said that the last time.’
He played up his own campaign’s theme of ‘law and order’ during his brief speech.
Barrett was the leading contender to be Trump’s nominee to succeed Ginsburg, whose body lay in state at the Capitol Friday – a first for any woman in the nation’s history.
The conservative, who Trump installed on the Appeals court, lost out to now Justice Brett Kavanaugh when she met with Trump one-on-one in 2018.
Their meeting did not go ‘particularly well,’ sources close to the process told NPR.
The judge had conjunctivitis, which prompted her to wear dark glasses during her interview with the president.
She was ‘not at hear best,’ reported Nina Totenberg, who wrote about her close friendship with Ginsburg after the 87-year-old’s passing.
When Trump went with Kavanaugh instead, he told Barrett-backers he was ‘saving’ her for the Ginsburg seat, they recounted.
But the judge wowed social conservatives during confirmation hearings to serve on U.S. Court of Appeals, in the Chicago-based 7th Circuit.
She defended her Catholic face when getting grilled by Senator Dianne Feinstein of California who still serves at the top Democrat on the panel, in 2017.
After looking at her speeches, ‘the conclusion one draws is that the dogma lives loudly within you. And that’s of concern when you come to big issues that large numbers of people have fought for years in this country,’ Feinstein said, in comments that became a rallying cry for Catholic conservatives who compared it as a religious test.
The nominee has also sparked criticism among civil rights groups.
Alphonso David, president of the Human Rights Campaign – and LGBT advocacy group – said that if Barrett is confirmed she would ‘dismantle all that Ruth Bader Ginsburg fought for’.
‘An appointment of this magnitude must be made by the president inaugurated in January. The Human Rights Campaign fervently opposes Coney Barret’s nomination and this sham process,’ he said.
But other groups have supported the nominee, with Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel – a Christian ministry – calling Barrett the ‘right choice’.
‘She applies the intent and text of the Constitution to the statutes she reviews. A judge should be a neutral interpreter of the Constitution who knows what it means to interpret and apply the law rather than an activist legislator who tries to create the law,’ he said.
Judge Barrett is a devout Catholic who teaches at Notre Dame law school professor.
She is a member of a South Bend chapter of charismatic Christian community People of Praise that critics have compared to a cult.
Amid a flurry of major rulings early this summer, the Supreme Court in an under-the-radar case handed a significant win to Native Americans by finding for the first time that almost half of Oklahoma is tribal land.
The ruling was a 5-4 decision in which conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch joined the four liberal justices, one of a handful of such surprise victories by the liberal wing of the court in recent terms.
The death of Ginsburg, a liberal, and her possible replacement by a conservative appointed by Trump will imperil such unlikely liberal wins in coming years.
The 5-4 conservative majority before Ginsburg’s death meant that the liberals on certain key issues only needed one conservative colleague siding with them.
Now, if Trump replaces her, they would need two, with likely implications for headline-grabbing issues on which liberals have prevailed in recent years, including abortion and gay rights, as well as lesser-known cases.
‘The stars would have to line up,’ said John Elwood, a Supreme Court lawyer.
The last two Supreme Court terms have defied expectations with a series of 5-4 rulings in which Chief Justice John Roberts joined the liberals in ruling against Trump’s bid to add a citizenship question to the US census, blocking the president’s effort to rescind protections for young immigrants known as ‘Dreamers’ and striking down a Louisiana abortion restriction.
But there are also several lesser-noticed 5-4 rulings that would have been unlikely with a 6-3 conservative majority.
The Oklahoma ruling was one. It is one of three 5-4 cases on Native American issues in which Gorsuch, who was appointed by Trump, joined the four liberals in the majority.
Similarly, Gorsuch two years ago was the fifth vote for the liberal wing of the court in striking down part of an immigration law that made it easier to deport people convicted of certain criminal offenses. He also cast the deciding vote that year in two 5-4 criminal cases in favor of defendants.
Last year, Kavanaugh, another conservative appointed by Trump, joined the four liberals in a 5-4 ruling that gave the greenlight to an antitrust lawsuit accusing Apple Inc of forcing consumers to overpay for iPhone software applications.
In an important case on evolving privacy rights in the age of the smartphone, Roberts and the four liberals prevailed in another 5-4 case in 2018 as the court imposed limits on the ability of police to obtain cellphone data pinpointing the past location of criminal suspects.
Whether the three liberals will be able to cobble together a majority in similar cases in future depends in large part on the identity of Trump’s nominee.
One area where liberal votes may still be key is on LGBT rights.
In June, the court to the dismay of conservatives ruled 6-3 that federal law that outlaws sex discrimination in the workplace applies to gay, lesbian and transgender people.
In that case, both Roberts and Gorsuch were in the majority with the liberals, so even with Ginsburg’s absence, five of the votes in favor of LGBT workers remain on the court.
Other cases on the definition of sex discrimination under other federal laws are likely to reach the court soon.
Shannon Minter, a lawyer with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said he is ‘hopeful’ that the majority remains intact but noted that every time there is a change in personnel on the court it can change the internal dynamic in unpredictable ways.
As such, he added, ‘Ginsburg’s absence is a significant factor.’