She Said ‘I HATE BLACK PEOPLE’—Now She’s a Rising GOP Star
After Crystal Clanton was caught saying that, Clarence Thomas’ wife hired her. Now she’ll be clerking for a federal judge who was on Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist.
If you are young, white, ambitious, and hoping to become a prominent conservative, openly declaring your racism seems like a way to hasten your ascent.
It’s worked so far for Crystal Clanton, who back in 2017 briefly made headlines for a text stating, simply but emphatically, “I HATE BLACK PEOPLE. Like fuck them all...I hate blacks. End of story.”
When that message and others like it she’d sent were made public, Clanton was in her fifth year as second-in-command at the right-wing campus group and hotbed of bigotry Turning Point USA; TPUSA head Charlie Kirk had previously called Clanton the organization’s “best hire” and claimed that “Turning Point needs more Crystals; so does America.” Her next stop was a highly visible media position with Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and “Stop the Steal” conspiracy theorist. This spring, Clanton will graduate from law school at George Mason University School and step into her most prestigious role yet, clerking for federal appeals court judge William Pryor.
It defies belief that Pryor—or Ginni Thomas or Charlie Kirk for that matter—was unaware of Clanton’s views. Thomas hired Clanton right after her stint at TPUSA and kept her on, gushing about her on social media, despite negative coverage. Kirk suggested he was outraged after Clanton’s racist texts leaked, but subsequent reporting showed she “would exchange racist remarks regularly with other TPUSA staffers.” Federal clerkships like the one Clanton just landed with Judge Pryor are highly coveted and prestigious stepping stones and applicants are thoroughly vetted before being selected.
If this isn’t an open embrace of racism, what would be? The moment is instructive only in that it reaffirms what’s long been apparent about American conservatism. There are those who would have you believe that there is a sort of high-minded conservatism and a low-minded conservatism, with the intellectual right on one side and an unwashed mass of racist kooks on the other. But there’s no delineation when it comes down to it, as Clanton is well aware—her racist texts didn’t dissuade her from applying for, or disqualify her from receiving, a clerkship that’s basically a fast-track to power with a federal judge who was on Donald Trump’s shortlist for the Supreme Court.
Judge Pryor, for the record, has called Roe v. Wade “the worst abomination in the history of constitutional law,” denigrated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act as “an affront to federalism and an expensive burden that has far outlived its usefulness,” wrote one brief in favor of executing the intellectually disabled and another supporting Alabama prisons handcuffing incarcerated people to hitching posts in the hot sun “as a way to impel inmates to work.”
An Alabaman who was backed by the state’s former senator and then Trump Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the race to replace Antonin Scalia, Judge Pryor reportedly lost his shot in part because some people on the right were mad that he was one of a panel of appeals court judges in 2011 who affirmed a district court’s decision in favor of a transgender plaintiff in Georgia who was fired after telling their bosses they intended to have gender-confirmation surgery.
Pryor likely got hundreds of applications for the clerkship position and he apparently decided to go with the candidate who made her racism so apparent there’s no conceivable way to spin her position—and thus his own—as anything other than it is. Clanton didn’t cloak her racism in language that could later be disguised in any way; she made a statement that was deliberately clear about her hatred for Black folks. Not only is Pryor cool with that, news of Clanton’s selection hasn’t seemed to upset anyone in the conservative sphere. If you need proof that conservatives across the board are OK with anti-Black racism and Islamophobia (Clanton reportedly also commented on a photo of an Arab-looking man with the caption, “Just thinking about ways to do another 9/11”), their deafening silence is exhibit A.
There’s no principled white conservatism that eschews racism and looks longingly toward a future where America’s racial caste is dismantled and painstakingly undone. White conservatives—in numbers that make anti-racist conservatives negligible by comparison—want to conserve things as they’ve always been in this country. They support policies that, explicitly or essentially, maintain white supremacist capitalism. It’s a project that requires the passing of batons—and Pryor has picked Clanton to continue the marathon.