Clarence Thomas: Hero
I recently finished reading Clarence Thomas’ autobiography, My Grandfather’s Son. Clarence Thomas is one of the most controversial political figures, and certainly the most controversial Supreme Court justice. His book is an interesting look at this often reclusive justice.
Thomas’ book came out some time ago, but it is relevant both because the lives of fascinating people like Thomas are always worth reading, and also because the Obama campaign’s troubles with the race issue make Thomas’ views on the subject worthy of note.
The most striking thing about Thomas’ life is the sheer improbability that someone like Clarence Thomas would ever make it to the Supreme Court. Thomas grew up in poverty in the segregated South. His education was difficult—he always went to good schools because of the sacrifices his grandfather made, but was always affected by racism. He left the seminary because of racial slurs by other students, and believes that his degrees by Holy Cross and Yale Law School were tainted because of affirmative action. (He had a great deal of trouble finding a job when he left law school; he believes that that employers simply assumed that he had a degree solely because of affirmative action).
Eventually, he found success in the Reagan administration as chairman of US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. After eight successful years there, Thomas was appointed a federal judge, and was nominated to the Supreme Court a little more than a year later.
Of course, Thomas’ nomination was opposed by many liberal Democrats, their opposition based on the flimsiest charges imaginable. That is not surprising—that was the time when Democrats were at their most aggressive, succesfully torpedoing the Robert Bork nomination and unsessfully attempting to tarnish the Reagan administration with the Iran-Contra scandal. True, the attack employed—“you can’t trust blacks around women”—was espcially despicable, but that sort of thing was often done by Democrats at the time. (They still try to do that sort of thing sometimes, but their success is limited by talk radio and the blogosphere).
What is truly incredible is that most mainstream leftists still believe these charges, and still attempt to smear Thomas. It is an article of faith among far left liberals that Clarence Thomas is a) absolutely stupid, and b) a self-loathing race traitor. It is, of course, assumed that all of Anita Hill’s charges were true.
Thomas rarely asks questions from the bench. What does that mean? If you are a liberal, it means that he must be unintelligent, because his silence might come from a lack of confidence, and a lack of confidence clearly implies a weak mind. I’m pretty sure that is missing a few logical links, but that it the left’s story, and they are definitely sticking to it. (For the record, Thomas believes that the extensive briefs filed in Supreme Court cases make most questions superfluous).
Liberals believe that only smart white leftists can determine the best course for black Americans. A black man like Clarence Thomas, who thinks he knows better, is unthinkable. Thomas is not the only black who is conservative—but he is by far the most visible. If Thomas Sowell, Walter Williams, Shelby Steele, or any of the other prominent black conservatives suddenly disappeared from the scene, conservatives would mourn, but the general population wouldn’t notice for long. (Of course, this is the case with most white conservatives as well). Thomas is one of the most powerful and visible men in the country. His word is, literally, law. Liberals must discredit him to ensure that their racial orthodoxy is the only one available.
As they attempt to do so, however, the latent racism in modern liberalism becomes obvious. Democrat policies towards blacks is based on the “soft bigotry of low expectations”. It is obvious that liberals don’t believe that blacks can compete with whites; hence, vast amounts of welfare spending and affirmative action, also, the distain for Clarence Thomas.
Fortunately, Thomas has overcome those who hate him, and that what he stands for. He is now one of the right’s most revered figures, and with good reason. His story of overcoming racism and hate, first from redneck Southerners, then from white liberals, is inspiring. Clarence Thomas is truly a man of courage.