Former federal prosecutor William Otis has a troubling history of racist and “flatly ahistorical” remarks, so clearly he’s the natural choice for President Trump to take a seat on the U.S. Sentencing Commission.
Trump’s lack of due diligence on Otis’ past is concerning — surely an aide had looked into him before he was given the nod, but it seems that it never happened.
As reported in this article from The Root, the man Trump has nominated is clearly unacceptable for the seat. Among other issues, The Root points out:
“Trump’s pick for the U.S. Sentencing Commission, which determines what criminal sentences to dole out, has written that black people and Latinx commit more crimes because of their collective sub-standard values, and appears to think that selling an eighth of weed (a low-level offense) is akin to child rape.”
The nomination is disturbing to many and is seen as an attempt to bring in yet another extremist right-wing voice and viewpoint. Among his greatest hits of racism, noted in an NPR article from Friday, is the following:
“This is the reason that, for example, Orientals have less incidence of crime than whites. Orientals were unquestionably the victims of long and rancid racial bigotry; coolie labor was little more than slave labor. And Yick Wo v. Hopkins is one of the most famous civil rights cases of all time. The reason Orientals stay out of jail more than either whites or blacks is that family life, work, education, and tradition are honored more in Oriental culture than in others.”
That was from a law blog he commented on just five years ago — long after it became completely unacceptable to refer to people of Asian origin as “Orientals.”
He was previously a counselor for the Drug Enforcement Agency under the George W. Bush administration and was special counsel to W’s dad during “Iraqgate” in 1992, so he has worked at a high level previously. But the worry is that these extreme remarks are not even from that long ago. Obviously, Otis is not very far removed from either his racist comments or from the fact that he thinks race plays a part in whether or not someone will commit or is guilty of a crime.
Trump will once again come under significant pressure due to a lack of clarity in his thinking process. It is clear that Otis is wholly unacceptable as a candidate for the seat — yet Trump has endorsed him. Either the lack of vetting shows a naivete that cannot be fixed, or if Team Trump knows about Otis’ racism, it shows a lack of concern for the rights of people of color.
It is clear that Trump has neither the judgment nor the clarity to pick someone for such a crucial post.
Featured image via Win McNamee/Getty Images
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