David Clarke speaking at the 2016 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in National Harbor, Maryland.
[image: Gage Skidmore/CC 2.0]
Words like fascist and authoritarian get thrown around too promiscuously. But there is no other way to describe David Clarke, who today announced that he was named assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security…Clarke occupies the extremist, anti-democratic fringe of far-right officials, even by the standards of the Trump administration.
O.o That certainly got my attention, particularly in an article written by Jonathan Chait, a pundit as conservative as
Squirrel People conservative Democrats come.
Or so I thought.
Clarke, a Milwaukee sheriff, rocketed into national prominence as a conservative provocateur by virtue of his rabid opposition to Black Lives Matter. Clarke is African-American, which has given him broader license to attack protesters in unbridled terms that thrill Republicans. He calls the group “Black Lies Matter,” or “black slime,” railing against its members as dangerous thugs.
He oversees a prison that is notoriously brutal. Four people have died of mistreatment and torture in his custody. One newborn baby died while its mother was shackled during childbirth; another prisoner died of dehydration, after the water in his cell was shut off for seven days.
In his book, Clarke proposes that the Department of Homeland Security — the department that he has been nominated to serve — assume police-state powers to round up internal enemies…Clarke estimates that the number of people to be rounded up in such fashion runs into “hundreds of thousands,” or “maybe a million.”… He would “hold them indefinitely under a suspension of habeas corpus” because “[b]old and aggressive action is needed.”
By “internal enemies” by the way, Clarke means YOU. After all, we are all terrorists now. I know I sure am! The good news is that he wants to lock us up indefinitely at Gitmo. YAY! We’re all moving to Cuba, everyone! We are finally getting single-payer healthcare! Yippeeeee!
Clarke’s understanding of domestic terrorism runs far beyond radical jihadists. He has predicted that Black Lives Matter will “join forces with ISIS,” and on multiple occasions described the group as a terror organization… Clarke insists Black Lives Matter “needs to be crushed.”
And while Black Lives Matter occupies a special place in his paranoid ideology, Clarke has increasingly applied his fervor for crushing dissent to any of Donald Trump’s critics…When protests broke out in New York and other cities after Trump’s election, Clarke raged that “temper tantrums from these radical anarchists must be quelled.”
Egregious lies! My post-election temper tantrums came from a socialist.
Like all conservatives, David Clarke is banally unprincipled. Suuuuure, he’s a state violence supporting authoritarian fascist douchebro now. But back in October, when our crack media was predicting that Trump would almost certainly lose the election to Hillary Clinton, he tweeted this:
David A. Clarke, Jr. Verified account @SheriffClarke
It’s incredible that our institutions of gov, WH, Congress, DOJ, and big media are corrupt & all we do is bitch. Pitchforks and torches time
[image: staged photo of angry mob holding pitchforks and burning torches—no attribution.]
I mean, the lack of self-awareness here is almost comical. It’s a fine thing, you see, to protest, threaten, riot and even violently overthrow the entire US government, but only if you support Donald Trump. Because that’s how constitutional rights and the rule of law work. !%#*@?!
Now some readers here may be ancient enough to remember a forgotten epoch, long, long ago, called “the Bush-Cheney administration.” For you unfamiliar young’uns, it was pretty much exactly like the Trump-Pence administration, except slicker—and smarter. And for part of that dark era, Republicans controlled both houses of Congress, just like they do now.
As you can probably imagine, the whole thing was an epic shitshow: total regulatory capture, Treasury-looting, illegal wars, unconstitutional surveillance, a White House Office of Faith-Based Initiatives shoving billions to the Religion-Industrial-Complex, eviscerated civil liberties, really just one outrage after another after another (almost all of which instantly magically became perfectly normalized under Barack Obama, but that’s another post or 120,000). As you can probably also imagine, given conservatives’ pathological propensity for grotesque hypocrisy, there were sex scandals aplenty. Shit like this, all the while preaching (and legislating) hellfire and brimstone about the virtues of
violent patriarchy Traditional Family Values™ and the nation’s godly imperative to crush The Evil Gays™. There were many, many other scandals of a non-sexual nature too that, ironically enough, were at least as dirty.
Anywho, at the time a prominent meme arose to mark these soaring heights of conservative hypocrisy: IOKIYAR (It’s OK If You’re A Republican). It was snarky and darkly funny and when properly deployed, always guaranteed to elicit a derisive snort or two. It may seem to you that this whole David Clarke debacle would be the perfect occasion to resurrect it, and you would be correct, except for one teeny, tiny detail.