Why Clarke’s the wrong choice to head Homeland Security

It’s been almost exactly a week since America decided it was tired of being a proper country and embarked upon its transformation into the Truman Show, a 24-7 reality TV experiment, with three hundred million contestants and counting.

We’re starting to get a better idea of the main players. Among the most concerning is Sheriff David Clarke, getting cast in the role of Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security. I’ve written about the renegade sheriff before, but for those of you who don’t know, Clarke is the top law enforcement officer of Milwaukee County, Wisc.

Not unlike many close to Trump, and the president-elect himself, Clarke adores the spotlight. He makes the rounds on conservative broadcast outlets and publications, and his star seemed to have reached its zenith over the summer when he spoke at the Republican National Convention in primetime (more on that later).

And also like many of Trump’s closest allies, Clarke is no stranger to the type of controversies that would under normal circumstances — and folks nothing about where our country is right now is normal — disqualify a person from running a federal agency.

Sheriff Clarke was successfully sued by the rank and file members of his department for holding evangelical presentations during required roll calls. The judge in the case said Clarke “‘coercively’ promoting religion when he invited a Christian group to speak to deputies during required roll calls and other work time.”

No, seriously, that happened.

So it is with an immense amount of trepidation and personal discomfort that I write this next sentence, because if Mr. Clarke goes to Washington to serve in Trump’s cabinet, he’s out of my hair and we might actually end up with a sheriff that gives a crap about healing the rifts in our community instead of widening them.

Even though it’d be to my immediate benefit, Clarke gives me plenty to write about, he would be a disastrous pick to lead the Department of Homeland Security.

To understand why, let’s roll back the clock to July and the Republican National Convention, a simpler time, before America lost its innocence.

In his speech to the assembled crowd, Clarke announced, falsely, that America was in a state of civil war, that he and the police were the frontline soldiers in that war, and directly named citizens connected to the Black Lives Matter movement as the enemy in that war. Since then, Clarke has, continued, purely for the sake of McCarthyism (something else we know a thing or two about in Wisconsin), claimed wholly without evidence that BLM was not only Marxist, but would soon coordinate with ISIS, because why not just string together a bunch of big words and see what sticks?

Even more troubling than Clarke’s inflammatory rhetoric has been a string of deaths among the inmate population that occurred inside Milwaukee County jails during his tenure.

A dozen people have died under mysterious circumstances since Clarke took over the job, including two men who the coroner’s office later determined had died of dehydration after the sinks in their jail cells had been shut off. Officers under Clarke’s supervision ignored their pleas for days as their victims’ bodies slowly shut down for lack of freshwater. Other inmates brought attention to their suffering only to be rebuffed. One such case  is still under an open investigation.

So, now that you’re equipped with this knowledge, imagine for a moment what a Department of Homeland Security might look like under Clarke’s leadership. His boss, President-elect Trump, has promised to bring back waterboarding  “and worse.

Trump has advocated publicly and repeatedly for the targeted killings of not only suspected terrorists, but their families, their wives and children

Trump will inherit from President George W. Bush and, to his shame, President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBiden teams to meet with Trump administration agencies Biden says he'd meet with Trump 'if he asked' Biden-Harris ticket the first in US history to surpass 80 million votes MORE, the most invasive security apparatus in the history of our country, as well as the powers of indefinite detainment without charge or trial, and all of the considerable powers afforded him in the Patriot Act.

Enter Clarke, a man who does not possess the ethical inclination to differentiate between peaceful protesters exercising their right to free assembly guaranteed under the First Amendment to the Constitution and an international gang of terrorists operating on the other side of the planet, and indeed seeks to falsely conflate them to further his own political ambitions.

A man who, through either inaction or malice, has repeatedly permitted the deaths of inmates under his care and supervision. Inmates, it should be reiterated, who had  not yet been convicted in a court of law for the crime for which they were accused and charged.

Placing Clarke in charge of the Department of Homeland Security is a recipe for active, deliberate, and targeted civil and even human rights violations on a scale this country has  not experienced on its own shores since the Japanese Internment Camps of World War II. As much as it pains me to say it, keep this monster out of Washington and stuck in Milwaukee. 

We have a pretty good idea of what he is now, and we’ll deal with him in Milwaukee in the next election.

Tomlinson is an author and regular contributor to the Hill on state, local and national politics. Follow him on Twitter @stealthygeek.

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