Anita Hill takes to the pages of the New York Times to answer Justice Clarence Thomas' memoirs -- and becomes an inadvertent ironist. After waiting sixteen years to tell his side of the story, Hill accuses Thomas of throwing unsubstantiated allegations at her. Anyone who watched the Thomas confirmation process should fall into gales of laughter at this cri de coeur:
In the portion of his book that addresses my role in the Senate hearings into his nomination, Justice Thomas offers a litany of unsubstantiated representations and outright smears that Republican senators made about me when I testified before the Judiciary Committee — that I was a “combative left-winger” who was “touchy” and prone to overreacting to “slights.” A number of independent authors have shown those attacks to be baseless. What’s more, their reports draw on the experiences of others who were familiar with Mr. Thomas’s behavior, and who came forward after the hearings. It’s no longer my word against his.
Justice Thomas’s characterization of me is also hobbled by blatant inconsistencies. He claims, for instance, that I was a mediocre employee who had a job in the federal government only because he had “given it” to me. He ignores the reality: I was fully qualified to work in the government, having graduated from Yale Law School (his alma mater, which he calls one of the finest in the country), and passed the District of Columbia Bar exam, one of the toughest in the nation.
Well, let's see. I recall that it was Hill who went to the Judiciary Committee with a litany of unsubstantiated representations and outright smears in 1991. The committee had noted the lack of substantiation and had dismissed her effort until someone leaked it to the press. Her colleagues testified that they had never witnessed any of the events or any other harrassing behavior from Thomas when they came before the committee. In fact, at the time, the other women who worked for Thomas testified to his professional mien in the office.
Hill then goes on to say this:
It’s worth noting, too, that Mr. Thomas hired me not once, but twice while he was in the Reagan administration — first at the Department of Education and then at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After two years of working directly for him, I left Washington and returned home to Oklahoma to begin my teaching career.
It's worth noting that Hill followed Thomas to the EEOC despite having purportedly been harrassed by Thomas at Education. Why did she do that, if Thomas made her workplace miserable? She could have stayed at the DoE when Thomas left and been rid of his supposedly creepy behavior. As she takes great pains to point out, she had plenty of other career opportunities without Thomas' assistance.
And why didn't Hill -- who takes great pains to review her CV in this essay -- ever file a complaint against Thomas at the time of the harrassment? She waited almost ten years to say anything, despite being a Yale grad who could and did make her own way in the world. She worked at the EEOC, after all, and would have had knowledge of how to address the kind of debilitating harrassment that Thomas supposedly directed at her. Yet she said nothing at all about Thomas' behavior until it became convenient for those Democrats looking to derail Thomas' confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Coming forward after ten years does not build credibility. Hill, as a lawyer, should understand that evidentiary evaluation. Old, unsubstantiated allegations only have credibility among those who use them for political purposes. Contrast Hill's reception to that of Paula Jones and her allegations of indecent exposure and sexual harrassment against Bill Clinton. Unlike Hill, Jones made her complaint contemporaneously, and pursued legal action through the channels that Hill espouses in this column after the incident got publicized. All of the same people who lined up behind Hill against Thomas didn't just ignore Jones, but called her every name in the book, including "trailer trash". Hill, who thinks that she helped lead an evolution in how harrassment gets treated, somehow neglects to mention Jones as part of that evolution.
Now she wants to cry that Thomas has attacked her in his memoirs, and without what she sees as substantiation. Sixteen years still hasn't taught Hill much, apparently including the "sauce for the goose" proverb.