Clarence Thomas has written a memoir about his upbringing, his early life and his bitter Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1991 which centered around the sexual harassment accusations levied against him by a former employee, Anita Hill. It is those hearings which most newspaper articles about his book focus on.
Thomas described the hearings as a "high-tech lynching" at the time and his views appear not have changed with the mere passage of years. The Times of London quotes him on his views concerning the Democratic senators:
He reserves particular scorn for the Democratic senators who tried to prevent his confirmation. One made him think of a "slave owner", while he says his worst fears about white people came to pass "not in Georgia, but in Washington, DC, where I was being pursued not by bigots in white robes but by left-wing zealots draped in flowing sanctimony".
ABC News picks a slightly different quote with a similar meaning:
In what Thomas describes as a "dark night of the soul," he says he had a stark realization: "I'd been nominated to sit on the Supreme Court -- but my refusal to swallow the liberal pieties that had done so much damage to blacks in America meant that I had to be destroyed."
Justice Thomas sounds like an angry man. Indeed, the Los Angeles Times suggests that he sees himself as persecuted:
Throughout the book, Thomas describes himself as under siege -- from preening elites, from light-skinned African Americans, from those who object to his conservative politics.
What are we to make of these quoted opinions? It could be that press is simply not to be trusted when it comes to picking suitable quotes from Thomas' book. After all, he himself accused the media of participating in that "high tech lynching." But I'm a little uncomfortable with knowing so much about the internal rage of a sitting Supreme Court Justice. How does he manage to isolate it from the day-to-day decisions at the court?
Armstrong Williams of Human Events tells us not to worry:
Many will dissect his latest testimony and come to their own conclusions about the Justice and the motivation behind his rulings on the court. Thomas, however is the one of the humblest, sincerest, brightest and occasionally most humorous individuals I've known throughout my years in Washington, DC. He has an excellent understanding of the law and how to make it fair and blind for all Americans. He makes a considerable effort to interpret the law, even when it opposes his personal opinion. He has given the analogy of a person struggling in water twenty feet below and only having ten feet of rope, he says that's how he sometimes feels with the law being the ten-foot rope and his desire being to save the person.
Armstrong also suggests that Thomas has found "total forgiveness for those that chose to demonize him for their own selfish reasons."
Somehow I find that less than completely reassuring.
-- J. Goodrich