September 27, 2007

Clarence Thomas: I Was Lynched For Abortion

Matt Drudge has a leak that had to come from CBS about their upcoming interview with Clarence Thomas. Airing on Sunday, the Steve Kroft segment coincides with the publication of Thomas' memoirs, and Thomas doesn't pull punches. In the book he talks about the "lynching" he received during his confirmation hearing, and he says it damaged everyone and set the stage for the impeachment of Bill Clinton (via Bluey's Blog):

In his first television interview, in which he discusses his childhood, his race, his rise to Supreme Court Justice and his job on the nation's highest court, Clarence Thomas says the real issue at his controversial confirmation hearings 16 years ago was abortion. Saying the issue was "the elephant in the room," Thomas also tells Steve Kroft that the hearings he called at the time a "high tech lynching" harmed the country. The interview will be broadcast on 60 MINUTES, Sunday Sept. 30 (7:30-9:00 PM/ET, 7:00-9:00 PM /PT) on the CBS Television Network.

Thomas, whose Supreme Court positions on abortion issues have been conservative, says the confirmation hearings in which he was accused of sexual harassment by a former employee -- allegations he continues to deny -- were really about abortion. "That was the elephant in the room... That was the issue. That is the issue that people are apparently so upset about," he tells Kroft. "[That is the issue] that you determine the composition of your Supreme Court and your entire federal judiciary, it seems now," says Thomas.

He says the hearings harmed the accuser, Anita Hill, himself, and ultimately the country by setting a precedent manifested in other highly charged, media-infused events such as the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton. "The process harmed her. It harmed me and we see sort of the precedent of this kind of thing begin to harm even people like President Clinton," Thomas believes. "Things are out of control. That's not good for the country. It's not good for the court," he continues, "What are we going to look like years from now if we can't get people confirmed because everybody gets to attack them. They get to draw and quarter them," he says.

One cannot deny the connection, and it exists on two levels. On the surface, the focus on sexual harrassment in the office pushed by Democrats led to legislation that criminalized caddish behavior. Corporate managers and employees suffered through millions of hours of lectures on power differentials between employment levels and how even flirting between executives and staff should be considered potentially abusive. The significance of this in connection to Monica Lewinsky should not be underestimated.

On a deeper level, it helped amplify a dynamic that had started during the Robert Bork confirmation hearing. Before that, judicial confirmations had largely been non-partisan and non-controversial. After Bork, and especially after Thomas, they became bloody brawls, and both parties made the federal judiciary a Christians vs the Lions forum. That's not just a consequence of the Thomas "lynching", but the result of decades of judicial activism, which has given the Supreme Court far too much of a legislative function.

I look forward to reading the Thomas book. He has remained very quiet in the sixteen years since he joined the Supreme Court, even while others wrote his story. His side of the argument should prove an intriguing read.

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Comments (31)

Posted by The Yell | September 27, 2007 4:30 PM

Well wait a minute. Was Hill lying or not? What process was going to make lying about sexual harassment pleasant for her, instead of harmful?

Too many smart people inside the Beltway can't seem to understand: the process is the people. There is no external process of redemption that will cure a crook in politics.

Posted by GarandFan | September 27, 2007 4:36 PM

I disagree with the Clinton impeachment connection, unless you want to go there in a tortured round-about way. He lied under oath about the Lewinsky affair, not the fact that he had it. As to sexual harassment in particular, legislators had good intentions but made bad law. On the bright side, many woman got rich off it. After one particular mandatory lecture on sexual harrasment a co-worker asked if I could smell the developing paranoia in the room.

Posted by Orion | September 27, 2007 4:40 PM

THe problem began in the late 1940s. Prior to this judicial nominations weren't subject to filibuster in the Senate. Then segregationist Democrats became afraid that the Republicans would win a majority in the '48 election and would approve desegregation-leaning judges so they shoved through a change to rule 22 to make nominations subject to filibuster.

Of course until 1978 filibusters were hard work and rarely used, then the Democrat (super)majority that year shoved through more relaxed filibuster rules: no more "Mr Smith Goes To Washington" dramas in the Senate Well; now a Senator can phone in a hold then roll over and go back to sleep. It's come to paralyze the Senate and kill legislation and compromise like nothing else. We need to go back to the pre-Mansfield filibuster rule and desperately need to exempt nominations from filibusters altogether if we want to save the Senate as a viable political institution.

Posted by suek | September 27, 2007 4:53 PM

If judges simply followed the law, there wouldn't be a problem. Since judges now "interpret" the law, they - in effect - _make_ the law, and as a result, those who would confirm them want to ascertain that the "laws" they will make are ideologically "correct". If judges would get out of the law making business, and go back to interpreting the laws the Congress makes, and if they would return to the states the many powers they have taken away by re-interpreting the Constitution to give the Federal Government more power, they would go back to having dull confirmations based simply on their qualifications instead of their political leanings.

Posted by the fly-man/bong boy | September 27, 2007 5:41 PM

Justice Thomas could easily give the President one last little gem of success to add to his legacy and that would be his immediate retirement. The President would surely nominate someone in the mold of Roberts and Alito and also give the GOP time to consider Justice Thomas as the perfect candidate for VP. This would counter Barack Obama as the VP or nominee in historical terms and I would be relieved to know that Justice Thomas as the VP would probably go back to filling the office of Vice President in a more traditional manner, back to funerals and golf. Call me stoned but it would sure make for some good political drama. Iraq is already a given, we're going to be there forever and Congress is finally starting to admit that as inevitable. So why not have a former supreme court justice as the VP to distract attention away from anything substantial. Isn't that what Washington does? He is the uber conservative isn't he? He certainly is qualified to be President. The Senate gives the President one more, and republicans can prove they really are color blind, and I get a VP that doesn't act like John Adams intimidating all with his Federalist maniacal ways. Win, Win Win......

Posted by dredford | September 27, 2007 5:57 PM

Okay, since you suggested it...you're stoned, because only someone under the influence would suggest such a thing. Keep smokin' dude!

Posted by njcommuter | September 27, 2007 6:13 PM

On a deeper level, it helped amplify a dynamic that had started during the Robert Bork confirmation hearing. Before that, judicial confirmations had largely been non-partisan and non-controversial. After Bork, and especially after Thomas, they became bloody brawls, and both parties made the federal judiciary a Christians vs the Lions forum.

Can someone with a good knowledge of history tell us whether anything like this occurred in the couple of decades before the War Between the States?

Posted by Terry Gain | September 27, 2007 6:45 PM

Ed,

Given your status as a near Canadian you might find this interesting.

Justice Bertha Wilson (since deceased) who wrote the 1988 Supreme Court of Canada decision that declared Canada's abortion law unconstitutional (because in her opinion it infringed upon the Charter right of "security of the person")
publically expressed the opinion that Anita Hill was telling the truth about being harrassed by Mr. Thomas (as he was then).

I doubt that Wilson had any personal knowledge about the issue and her apparent belief that Hill's claims should be accepted in preference to Thomas' denials may have just been "a sister thing". I assume her statement was made after she had retired from the bench, but I'm not so interested in the matter that I intend to look it up (but my friend Del might).

Posted by Orion | September 27, 2007 6:51 PM

A "War Between the States" can never happen again. If you break down the "Red vs. Blue States" map by voting precinct it's astonishing how overall RED the map is and all the tiny little islands of blue are so disconnected. If the "blue" precincts seceded President Gore would need his visa stamp 3 times a day just going to the bathroom.

The Civil War of 181-1865 was possible because the US was largely divided by culture and heritage into 2 identifiable regions, North and South. Today there are KFCs in Vermont and southern gals shop at Macy's out at the big shopping mall outside town. Everybody goes to Starbucks. If anybody wanted to seceed they wouldn't know what FROM.

Posted by Del Dolemonte | September 27, 2007 7:09 PM

fly-man:

Justice Thomas has, as Ed said, been very quiet during his SCOTUS tenure. I doubt he would want to inject himself into the Washington DC nuthouse as a possible Vice President-especially after seeing how "Halliburton Cheney" has been treated over the past 6 years.

On another point, I do see something in the connection Justice Thomas makes in regards to how he was treated during his confirmation hearings and the Clinton impeachment circus. After all, the same feminists who went after Thomas for alleged sexual harassment later gave Bill Clinton a total pass for engaging in an adulterous sexual relationship with someone young enough to be his own daughter, who could also be considered to be a subordinate of his in the workplace. If a Republican President had done the exact same thing, they would take him out behind the barn and shoot him. The double standard is so blatant it's scary.

One of these tolerant liberals, TIME Magazine's Nina Burleigh, even offered to take over Monica's job servicing Bill. As I said, scary.

Posted by the fly-man/bong boy | September 27, 2007 7:24 PM

I have come to firmly believe anything is possible, Politically. I constantly find myself wondering what excuse for retaining power will the Republicans use next. I suggest crazy things like having Justice Thomas retire and become the GOP's VP nominee for theoretical reasons not political expediency. Come on where's the real conservative running for President? Can't the party see past the loyalty and time counted standard and let something refreshing happen? Isn't it pure jealousy regarding the sheer number of Democratic choices, in depth, electability, nuanced policy differences and funding? The GOP has been the uber political machine for the last 6 years and they haven't prepared for the ascendancy to the throne? Is Dick Cheney going to let them loose all that he has fought for? Come on engage the public with choices not just Clinton bashing. Can you imagine Russ Feingold as VP, man talk about Karma.

Posted by Hugh Beaumont | September 27, 2007 7:43 PM

Bong Dawg says:

Isn't it pure jealousy regarding the sheer number of Democratic choices, in depth, electability, nuanced policy differences and funding?

Hugh says:

You're F'n kidding, right?

Nuanced differences?

Start with Social Security and work your way down from there.

Posted by wooga | September 27, 2007 7:54 PM

"Come on where's the real conservative running for President?"
bong boy,
It depends on what you mean by "conservative." Thompson's a federalist. Rudy's a neocon. Huckabee's a religious right statist. Romney's an economic conservative. McCain's a cantankerous conservative. Ron Paul's a libertarian.

I think that gets you just about every breed of conservative except for a Buchanan style isolationist paleocon.

Thomas is the best justice on the court for a federalist or libertarian. You couldn't get someone like him on the bench now - you have to nominate people without such a strong anti-statist streak. So Thomas stepping down would be a terrible thing to a large chunk of conservatives.

Posted by njcommuter | September 27, 2007 8:22 PM

Orion,

My point wasn't that we are facing a replay of the War Between the States. It was that we have seemingly irreconcilable differences between two blocs, and those differences seem to lie in a deep division of our views of society and the role of government (see Philip Bobbett's The Shield of Achilles) which do, to some degree, parallel the situation in the 1850's. The calumnies spoken about the sitting president and about persons of opposing views have not occurred in my lifetime, and I have not read of their like, except for the first few administrations under our Constitution and Abraham Lincoln's presidency. There were controversial Supreme Court decisions in both those eras; it seems natural to ask whether there were partisan fights to set leanings of that Court.

Posted by flenser | September 27, 2007 10:20 PM

njcommuter

I agree with your assessment of the situation, including the "seemingly irreconcilable differences between two blocs" based on different conceptions of what government is supposed to be.

There were no similar fights over the court in the early 19th century. There was much greater agreement about the role of the court (it was quite limited) and the nature of the Constitution. Both sides invoked states rights in the runup to the war in defense of their positions.

The idea of packing the court with people who would say whatever you wanted them to say would have been seen as an outrage by both the pro and anti slavery factions. In any case people at the time did not have the modern belief that the Constitution meant whatever the Supreme Court said it meant, so the process would have been pointless.

The idea that the court is the most senior branch of government seems to have arisen only since the 1960's.

Posted by flenser | September 27, 2007 10:27 PM

A "War Between the States" can never happen again.

"Never" is a long time.


If you break down the "Red vs. Blue States" map by voting precinct it's astonishing how overall RED the map is and all the tiny little islands of blue are so disconnected.

That does not tell you anything. Population wise the sides are fairly equal.


The Civil War of 181-1865 was possible because the US was largely divided by culture and heritage into 2 identifiable regions, North and South.

It still is divided between two cultures. The Liberals have their strongholds on the coasts, while the Conservatives have the South and Center.


If anybody wanted to seceed they wouldn't know what FROM.

They know they hate each other.


Posted by fouse, gary c | September 27, 2007 11:02 PM

Race in America

It would be foolish to claim that America is a nation united these days. We thought we were after 9-11, but that has receded pending the next terrorist attack. Since then, we have slipped back into our everyday political and social differences, such as the divide that exists between conservatives and liberals, Republicans and Democrats. Since we are an ethnically diverse nation, we are far from being united in this area as well. Often, it seems as though we Americans are made up of competing tribes fighting over our fair slice of the American pie. Virtually all of our ethnic minorities have faced struggles and discrimination over the course of our history. The group that suffered the most in our history has been our African-Americans, first starting with slavery, the darkest chapter in our history, then post-Civil War segregation and discrimination, leading to the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Since then, things have improved dramatically for our black citizens in terms of exercizing their basic rights. Indeed, America has been transformed so dramatically since the 60s, that I doubt any other society could have made such an achievement. Yet, all is not well in Black America today. Without neglecting the issues of other minorities, I would like to focus on the state of black-white relations in our country today. I should state at the outset that mine is the opinion of a white male in his 60s. Having said that, my thesis is that the troubling state of affairs in black America is something that must be addressed and solved by blacks themselves.

Let us start with a basic question. Is America a racist country? Since I am 62 years old and remember the Civil Rights Era, I would state unequivocally that America was a racist country when I was growing up. Segregation in the South was enforced by local laws, while discrimination was practiced on a more subtle scale in the rest of the country. The N-word was used commonly in all-white company, especially by teenagers. So much of that has changed in the last 40 or so years. Yet, many, if not most African-Americans feel that racism is still a big problem in the US, and that the system is stacked against them. Charges of racism are frequently made against individuals or institutions by other individuals or institutions like the NAACP. In response, many whites say that racism charges are often imagined or fabricated by blacks to gain an advantage or quiet criticism or disagreement. What is the truth? In my view, America is-in 2007- a country with many racial issues-but not a racist country in the mold of Nazi Germany or South Africa under Apartheid.

I have often heard black spokespersons say that America needs to have an open and frank dialogue about race. I agree wholeheartedly. However, I would add that we have been having a dialogue ever since the 1960s and the Civil Rights Era. That dialogue has had a consistent theme: that whites have committed many injustices against blacks, beginning with slavery, and continuing with segregation and discrimination. To that point, whites can only agree-because it is true, and nothing can justify that part of our history. In that regard, American society has done its proper duty in educating new generations about this fact, much like the Germans have done in educating their youth about the Nazi era (at least since the 1960s). In addition, in my view, our country has gone to great lengths to remedy that past with programs such as welfare and affirmative action (which, in the opinion of many including myself have had negative consequences for black America). Yet, any observer of the American scene can see that black America is not in good shape. Any trip through a large American inner city will tell you that.

As we all know, in spite of progress and the rise of an educated black middle class that has been able to overcome poverty and racism due to the opening of numerous doors, the black inner-city seems to have been left behind. There are gangs-deadly gangs, guns, drugs, crime, schools that cannot hope to educate because of the problems that their pupils bring with them to the classroom. There has risen a culture among black youth that education and speaking standard English are for "white people". There is the insidious influence of hip-hop music, whose lyrics often use foul language, defame women, defy authority and glamorize drug dealing and violence. Many of the rappers themselves are horrible role models for youth since they often live the life style they rap about-in many cases since they grew up in that life-style themselves.

Then there is the problem of single-parent families. The illegitamite birth-rate among American blacks today stands around 70%. In the worst days of Jim Crow, that figure was about 25%. In the opinion of many, including libertarian radio talk show host, Larry Elder, himself African-American, this is the single most serious problem-the root of all the other problems. But how is it that as Civil Rights has progressed and many blacks have seized the new found opportunities, that this number has risen so dramatically? I am not sure, but could it have something to do with the massive welfare state that was created by President Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s, a system that actually discouraged having 2-parent families? I have to assume that Johnson's intent was noble since he was the man who pushed through the Civil Rights Act that will always be his monument. However, as we know, good intentions can often lead to bad results.

This leads to an important point. The problems I have listed above cannot be simply blamed on white racism and discrimination. They may be a part of the legacy of slavery, but these are unique problems that have mostly taken hold since the Civil Rights Era. Yes, there are white drug dealers-every nationality and ethnic group has its drug dealers, but being retired from DEA, I am not aware of any black drug user who obtained his drug from a white dealer. Yes, there are white music executives (and black) who are involved in hip-hop music, but the music also appeals to all ethnic groups. Nevertheless, it is created and performed almost exclusively by black artists. What I am trying to say is this: These problems that exist in black communities have been created by blacks themselves and only blacks can solve them. White people can not solve them. The Government cannot solve them. Blacks-at the grassroots level- I mean family, church and community must take responsibility and deal with these issues and leave the charge of white racism out of the equation because white racism is one of the least of the problems that blacks in America face today. It pales in comparison with the problems listed above.

Yet, the so-called black leaders in America are still fighting the battles of the 1960s. I am talking about the Jesse Jacksons, the Al Sharptons, the Louis Farrakhans, the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP, a once-great organization that has devolved into nothing more than a branch of the Democratic Party. To them, everything is white racism in action, and only because of their leadership can blacks avoid being put back into chains. Most of these figures only concentrate in rooting out that last great white bigot hiding under the bed while paying scant attention to the problems they should be addressing. Much easier to convince today's black Americans to buy into the victim mentality (which has become fashionable for many in our society-across racial lines.) It is their way of holding on to power. The last thing that they want is for the notion to take hold among African-Americans that they can succeed in America based on their own talents and work. Of all the ethnic groups in America, it is African-Americans who arguably have the worst "leadership". I put the word leadership in quotation marks because I question whether any ethnic group in our country needs a "leadership". Many blacks would agree.

In recent decades, whites have been reluctant to confront people like Jackson and Sharpton. Why? Well, for one reason, there is white guilt, which is real. Another reason is that whites are afraid of being called "racist", a charge which can destroy one's career or even life. People like Jackson and Sharpton and others know this full well and will not hesitate to use the charge, either to carry the debate or silence critics. Fortunately, some folks have gotten weary of the tactic and will not allow that charge to stop them from making their point. Similarly, many black conservatives, who have rejected the tired old arguments of the traditional black leaders, have to stand up to charges of being an "Uncle Tom"-a sellout to whites. Just think of the grief that people like Larry Elder, Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, Condoleeza Rice, Michael Steele and Clarence Thomas have had to endure for their independent thinking. It is scandalous.

I want to say a word about "Hate Crimes" here. Being a retired law enforcement officer, I tend to think that there is something inherently unconstitutional about "Hate Crime" Legislation to begin with. Under our law, we punish the act, not the thought. Why a person commits a crime-their motive- goes to proving guilt. It should not be part of the charge itself. It is the substantive act that matters, and it is that act that should be punished under the law. Another problem is that "Hate Crimes" are being charged selectively, basically when a white person commits an assault against a minority or gay. When whites are victims, hate crime charges are rarely applied, in spite of the fact that this kind of assault happens frequently. (In fact, black assaults upon whites are much more frequent today than the reverse.) It is hardly constitutional when a statute is applied selectively according to the race of the victim and perpetrator. But it is happening today in America. We have seen recent incidents like the current controversy in Jena, Louisiana, where a white student was put in the hospital after an attack by a group of black students. (To be fair, there are side issues to this story, such as white students hanging nooses from a tree and the question of unequal prosecution.) About a year ago, a group of white girls in Long Beach, California were savagely attacked by a mob of blacks. (Hate crimes were in fact charged, but the punishment was ridiculously light.) The point is that these types of crimes are wrong regardless of the race of the victim or the perpetrator, but it is undeniable that whites have been singled out by blacks for assault because of their race , something that many including our news media would like to slide under the rug. Does this mean that some blacks are also racist? Some would argue that only the "Oppressor", namely whites, can be racists. I disagree. When Al Sharpton calls Jews "diamond merchants", that is racist. When Jesse Jackson calls New York "Hymietown", that is racist. If you want to hear racist diatribes, listen to the words of the leaders of the New Black Panther Party, most notably its chairman, Malik Zulu Shabazz.

In concluding, I wish to go back to the idea of having a "true dialogue about race" in America. We should, indeed, have it. But any meaningful dialogue must get past the litany of charges of past discrimination and include the ideas and complaints that whites have as well. It must be stated that whites fear black crime and violence, that we dare not travel into black communities. It must also include the statement that we are weary of continuously being called racists if we disagree with the "black agenda" or dare to criticize someone like Jackson or Sharpton. We also feel that there is a double standard for controversial statements on race. Also, as I stated above, we should have the courage to tell blacks that they must accept responsibility for their own individual failures and the problems that plague their communities. Only they can effectively deal with them.

Finally, let us not forget our history, but whites cannot be blamed for every problem that afflicts black America today. More than ever before, we all need to come together, rejecting those that would divide us. That the problems that plague black America be overcome is in all our interests as a nation and as a people. The dialogue must be open and frank on both sides. Whites should not be hesitant or afraid to speak frankly. After all, I really believe we are not the enemy.

gary fouse
fousesquawk

Posted by Dale Michaud aka TexasDude | September 27, 2007 11:06 PM

You don't need Thomas to retire.

You need some of the other judges who like to eschew the Constitution for the views of other countries to retire.

Posted by GarandFan | September 27, 2007 11:53 PM

Gary:
"the Jesse Jacksons, the Al Sharptons, the Louis Farrakhans, the Congressional Black Caucus and the NAACP" all have a vested interest in the status quo. They thrive on the dependence of others. This is how they derive and keep their power. If one speaks out (Bill Cosby) look at the backlash that occurs.

Posted by Cornellian | September 28, 2007 2:58 AM

"if they would return to the states the many powers they have taken away by re-interpreting the Constitution to give the Federal Government more power"

And how soon would you expect that to happen, given that judges are nominated by a federal politician and confirmed by a group of 100 federal politicians?

Posted by the fly-man/bong boy | September 28, 2007 6:52 AM

So Alito and Roberts didn't make conservatives happy? As far as my comments about nuanced policy, remember it's just a campaign. Sorta like dear Leader's promises about Social Security reform, you know, all talk and no delivery. So why worry about what the candidates say, right? Didn't seem to bother you all to be lied to for your vote. Why should it matter that the Democrats do their bait and switch too? Conservatism as a realistic model is just a bag of hot aired lofty unattainable principles. So where is the clone of Ronald Reagan? See, you all can't get past political expediency can you? Maybe you're afraid of the Mrs, becoming President and then you will stand behind your party and stifle her every move, because as the GOP has proven it's a lot easier to complain and bring home the pork then it is to actually deliver what your constituencies want. No one doubts that Hillary and her party will be effective at delivering policy.

Posted by patrick neid | September 28, 2007 6:59 AM

I would never question Thomas's beliefs about what happened to him during the hearings for his appointment. However that does not prevent me for having my own significantly different view.

Justice Thomas ran into a buzz saw because the "race baiters" at the time determined he was an "Uncle Tom". All the rest of the tripe was engineered to try to prevent him getting appointed. Every detail from Ms. Hill and others was contrived to allow the good representatives to kill his bid.

To this day the "revs" view him as an "Uncle Tom". It is a slur he has had to live with most of his life. In fact I would go so far as to say that the petrie dish in the black community that breeds this self directed bigotry is the principal disease that keeps the black community from succeeding.

Posted by Immolate | September 28, 2007 9:22 AM

That was a marvelous essay Gary. I think you have managed to convey all of the important points without resorting to accusatory or defensive rhetoric.

Posted by viking01 | September 28, 2007 12:11 PM

Much of this started when Harry Blackmun began emanating from his penumbra.

It might be interesting to hear Ruth Ginsburg's take on Supreme Court Justice activism (particularly if their entire pre-USSC careers have been so) though she'd have to get her ACLU's bosses' permission first.

Many forget that Nightline media activist Nina Totenberg dropped Anita Hill's rumor leaving Hill up a creek until NOW and the usual angry Lefty groups began beating the victim drum for her. What a circus that was! The loopy Judge Hoerschner playing a po, po, pitiful me feminist tune contrasted by the valiant and resolute young office worker who called Anita on her warped ego and Coke can hallucinations. It sounded more like a Clinton Oval Office checklist. (Visualize Bubba with pencil: "Done that, done that, done that twice, done that too, uh, but not with Nina Burleigh, uh, yet) Of course, that Anita Hill political acid trip would not have been complete without Ted Kennedy posturing against sexual harassment. At least Senator Howell Heflin had the sense to throw cold water on the Hill's freakish testimony by asking "Are you a scorned woman?"

It's important not to forget that Clarence Thomas is resented by the Left for having left (and mostly having never needed) the Democrat plantation. I remember well my sister and brother and law's recollections from that time when they had lunch at a well known restaurant at Harvard Square. The endless bleatings of several loud, useless Hahvahd perfessers at a nearby table of "how dare [Clarence Thomas] be a Republican after all we've done for him." My brother in law was sorely tempted to tell that group of racist old Lefties to go play outside.


Posted by unclesmrgol | September 30, 2007 10:30 AM

viking01,

Very good, having the words "Teddy Kennedy" and "cold water" in adjacent sentences. Not quite touching each other, of course, as it happened in the reality of public opinion in Massachusetts.

Posted by Ivy Martin | September 30, 2007 9:50 PM

I am a black female. Mr.Thomas argument about affirmative action is a contradiction. Clarence Thomas did not get on the Supreme Court by being the best Anti-Trust lawyer in the land. He got nominated for to replace Marshall because he was black. I am belive that afirmative action does not help. In fact, it mainly helps believe it or not people like your Sharptons and Jacksons. I was offered a postion by a well known Fortune 500 company. I was told," You fit the double whammy, a black female." I turned it down. Maybe Thomas should have done the same.

Posted by unclesmrgol | September 30, 2007 10:25 PM

Ivy,

Why should Thomas turn down the opportunity to serve on the Supreme Court -- to be at the top of his game? To get to deal with all the really tough stuff that the courts below couldn't handle? To be able to leave his imprint on history? Hell, if someone told me I was being chosen to head Microsoft because I'm white like Gates, do you think I'd hesitate a minute? If I did, I'd be one crazy man, even if I do run Linux at home.

And Thomas already went through the angrily turning things down phase in his earlier days; he was going to become a Catholic priest until he heard another student at the seminary rejoice when MLK was killed -- he left the seminary immediately thereafter. I'm sure that decision wasn't entirely a happy one for him, and probably informed his later actions.

With regard to your Fortune 500 job, I hope you turned it down because it wasn't challenging enough, or didn't pay enough -- not because some jerk classed you as a "double whammy." If the job matched your other skills, turning it down may not have been the best career move. Hopefully something better showed up.

Posted by Ivy Martin | October 1, 2007 5:49 AM

Unclesmrgol,
Thank you for you comments. Something better did come up and I love it! Clarence Thomas cannot now argue against affirmative action after it has gotten him so much gain in his life. I have never been a big fan of Clarence Thomas. As I watched him tonight on 60 minutes broadcast, I surpisingly found myself agreeing with him on a lot of points. Then I came to my senses. None of his arguments against affirmative action have no basis because he accepted every single gain that affirmative action had to offer and now is turning his back. Total contradiction. The job offer I turned down because I would taken that I job and I always wondered did my job performance ever come into play. Could not do it. Rest assured I bet Clarence Thomas thinks about that everyday.

Posted by Ivy Martin | October 1, 2007 6:16 AM

I also have a comment for Gary C Fouse. I respect your comments. However, in regards to single parent I am one. The citizens of this country do not take care of me or my child. I chose to have my child at 32 out of a desire to bear a child. I am not on the welfare system. I had my child and he is my responsibility. I raise my child everyday that you can take the high road or the low road. The low road is not an option. I want my child to know that there is a lesson in everything he does. At seven he knows this. My child will never be a statistic.
I as a Black American do not look at a Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson as my leader. I think they take advantage of Black people to suit their own agenda and set us back more than we will will ever know.
I think of myself as an American and first and foremost. The frank and open discussion about race can only be done without everybody trying to be so politically correct. I don't think that people will be able to do that because they are scared of being labled a racist.

Posted by unclesmrgol | October 2, 2007 12:15 AM

Ivy,

Clarence's big argument against affirmative action is that, for those who benefitted but should not have, they drag down the reputation of those who did. Clarence had to prove constantly that he deserved a position not on the basis of his race but on the basis of his own accomplishments. He also had to prove that he deserved positions "in spite of" his race.

I understand where he's coming from. In 1972, I applied for a Teacher Corps position but was told by the professor of education processing the applications that I "was not brown enough" (I'm white of course). At that point, I was fairly liberal, and rationalized it by saying "OK, he's looking for role models to go into the appropriate communities, and I just don't match." I was a math major, and as a "reward" for not getting the Teacher Corps position (and the money which went with it), I was given a TA-ship for the Mathematics for Elementary School Teachers course. The section I was given happened to be the Teacher Corps one. Boy, did I have a political lesson! Everyone in the class was a person of color. That was when the thought "reverse discrimination" first crossed my mind. As I tutored and lectured, I discovered that about a third of the students had no knowledge of mathematics and, worse, were incapable of understanding it. I asked the lead professor of mathematics what we could do, whether it was my fault that I couldn't get them to do long division or understand geometric concepts like rectangles and squares and area. He opined that, having observed my efforts, it wasn't my fault -- but that there was nothing either of us could do about it other than to fail them, but if we failed them, we would be called up on discrimination charges before the academic community. So we were to pass them. I felt really bad about this, because my thoughts were, "If the black community is to have the best and brightest to teach them, these people are not the ones to do it. They are going to go out into their community and do tremendous harm to the mathematical capabilities of their students, perhaps for years to come."

Like Clarence, I had my awakening that semester. I, one of the best mathematics students in the department, one who volunteered in the elementary schools every week, had been turned down by the education department for a TC position they awarded to an incompetent person just on the basis of skin color.

Like Clarence, I made what I think in retrospect is the wrong decision -- in my anger, I ceased attempting to become a teacher, and instead left early to get a masters in computer science. If they didn't want me, I didn't want them.

You talk about not taking a job because of the "double whammy". Well, think about all the people in the world whose only assets are the "double whammy", and whether they deserve the sinecures they may receive.

My feelings are that the government needs to be as color blind as the constitution. That said, the laws punishing discrimination in the distribution of government resources needs to be tough, and the data to prove or disprove discrimination needs to be acquired and processed so the law can properly be inforced. Something other than race needs to stand in for race; my choice is merit, followed by economic need. Merit must be objectively, not subjectively, measured.

As you can guess, I'm quite happy with Bush's No Child Left Behind; the only way to measure discrimination in education is via testing, and the only way to fix the problem when discovered is by school choice -- the teachers' unions and their tenure clauses have assured that.

Posted by Ivy Martin | October 2, 2007 8:55 PM

Unclesmrgol,
Thank you for your comments-sometimes it is good to listen to another view. I think that you would have made a great teacher. The love of teaching still comes thru despite your difficulties. Maybe it is not to late...?
I don't think you can compare yourself to Mr.Thomas. You chose not to stay and play the game. He did stay and took full advantage of Affirmative Action. I guess we can agree to disagree on this one!

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