- On Tuesday, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas indulged in a bit of nostalgia for the glory days of the segregated South, telling a group of Florida college students, "My sadness is that we are probably today more race and difference-conscious than I was in the 1960s when I went to school" in segregated Savannah, Georgia.
- (Meanwhile, on the other side of the state, an elections supervisor in Manatee, Florida was defending a plan to cut 30 polling places that mostly serve low-income minority neighborhoods.)
- Thomas, who was nominated to the bench in 1991 to replace Thurgood Marshall, doesn't speak often on the job, but he's not shy about talking about the abuse he's suffered at the hands of "left-wing zealots draped in flowing sanctimony" during his three decades in D.C.
- According to Thomas, Barack Obama was only elected because he fits "prescribed things" that "elites and the media" expect from a black person.
- When allegations of sexual harassment came up during his confirmation hearings, Thomas famously declared that the investigation was "a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves."
- Thomas echoed those feelings of persecution yesterday, saying that "the worst" he has been treated was not by the good people of Savannah, Georgia, but by "northern liberal elites."
- This kind of talk makes Ronald Reagan sound like Malcolm X, says Paul Campos.
- Jonathan Chait points out that the silence on race Thomas remembers so fondly is not actually proof that life was better in 1960s Georgia. "Maybe the reason race came up rarely is that the racial situation was extremely terrible," Chait writes. "For the first 14 years of Thomas's life, Georgia had zero African-Americans in its state legislature ... Possibly because African-Americans were so satisfied with their treatment that they didn't see any reason to vote, or possibly because civil-rights activists in Georgia tended to get assassinated."
- This rosy view of the Jim Crow South is also somewhat at odds with the picture Thomas paints in his 2007 autobiography, where he recalls a Ku Klux Klan march down the main street. He wrote: "Blacks steered clear of many parts of Savannah, which clung fiercely to racial segregation for as long as it could."
- Over at the National Review, Quin Hillyer says Thomas is wrong—but only because "the worst treatment of black people who think for themselves comes not from southern rednecks or northern Chablis drinkers, but from ... racist Southern blacks."
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