Thursday, October 4, 2007

Justice Thomas Requires a Kerchief

A book rank with the putrid stink of misogyny is going to be hitting the shelves soon, and the author is a prominent figure in modern politics.

(I'll begin by linking to Anita Hill's response to this episode, which I feel should be prominently placed before my polemics.)

Until recently, one might have interpreted Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' silence on the subject of Anita Hill as a sign of guilt. In this day and age, of course, some of the guilty prefer instead to launch absurd rhetorical claims in a book, which is what we can expect in Thomas' forthcoming memoir "My Grandfather's Son (Washington Post link)."

A quick review of the controversy surrounding Anita Hill - when George H.W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court in 1991, Hill testified that Thomas had sexually harassed her when he was her supervisor at the Department of Education. It turned into an epic political battle, which Thomas won, claiming that Hill's accusations were a "high-tech lynching" orchestrated by liberals trying to defeat his nomination. (A side note about the controversy - an author of a book about Anita Hill, David Brock, later went against his book on the grounds that it was character assassination, as he writes here, and similarly here.)

In his new memoir, for which he is receiving $1.5 million (not exactly a non-sequitor), Thomas says that a "mob" of activist groups and liberal elitists "desecrated" his life. From the Washington Post: "In the book, Thomas writes that Hill was the tool of liberal activist groups 'obsessed' with abortion and outraged because he did not fit their idea of what an African American should believe." His civil rights rhetoric is incredible: he claims that he faced a "mob" whose "weapons were smooth-tongued lies spoken into microphones and printed on the front pages of America's newspapers. . . . But it was a mob all the same, and its purpose -- to keep the black man in his place -- was unchanged."

Having gone on after the controversy to serve on the Supreme Court and become pivotal in a number of votes is meaningless in the face of his tarnished reputation! The racist liberal elitist liars personally attacked him to oppress him; to "keep him in his place." I assume this "place" would have to be anything else but that cabin of an old novel he's currently holed up in.* What other incredible injuries he's suffered, we'll have to read the memoir to learn.

What's so spectacularly arrogant about Thomas' arguments is that he seems to ignore the very relevant identity of Anita Hill - she is every bit as "black" as him, and every point over which he whines in the upcoming memoir looks silly compared to what she faced. Books like Brock's "The Real Anita Hill" made her out to be not only a liar, but a bizarre, mentally unstable and possibly even whorish tool of an ulterior liberal agenda, characterizations which some might see as an injury to her reputation, even possibly a "desecration of her life." That Thomas went on to a position of immense power and influence on the highest court in the land can't be ignored (nor can his accountability to his record in that role: according to Harper's Magazine, Thomas uttered a mere 132 words during Supreme Court oral arguments from February 06 to July 07; the next-fewest word count of all the justices belonged to Samuel Alito at 14,404). And if he wants to throw around baseless allegations about being "kept in his place," there's every bit as much reason if not much more to accuse him of trying to keep women in their "place." Anyone who so much as remembers the crudest basics of the story must admit that Hill got the worst of the fight, regardless of who was right.

After many years of silence, Clarence Thomas feels the need to soil the national discourse with self-victimization and misogynistic trash, for a check no smaller than a million and a half dollars. I suggest he cry some more, because history might indeed remember him unkindly.

*That's not a cheapshot pun on his name - the incredible disrespect, disregard and damage he leveled against the rights of black women makes him a very legitimate, very real Uncle Tom.

1 comment:

Megan said...

I remember there was a lot of hoopla over how Hill's accusations were a "race thing" that tied into popular portrayals of black men as oversexed and voracious. People seem to forget that racial stereotypes affect women as well as men, perhaps even more so. Anyone that claims that Hill's claims were a political attempt to bring down a black man is adhering to another sort of stereotype- by automatically assuming that a woman's claims of sexual harrassment are illegitimate and motivated by some form of gain.