Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Justice Thomas--One Angry Man

Ruth Marcus' column in the Washington Post argues that Clarence Thomas is not only an angry man, but a liar.

I have not read Justice Thomas' memoir, although I hope to do so soon. I likewise have not seen all the interviews with Justice Thomas in the wake of the book's release. Having said that though, what I can tell you is that Justice Thomas is probably entitled to a little anger at this point.

To be sure, the release of a memoir, especially one that deals with his confirmation process, is sure to dredge up the past and lead to continued questions about "did he or didn't he" harrass Anita Hill. The fact, however, that media members like Ruth Marcus focus solely on the Anita Hill matter and nothing else undoubtedly stokes Thomas's anger and rightfully so. Here is what Marcus had to say:
If Thomas did what Hill claims, how to understand his undimmed anger, his absolute denials, his willingness to pick the scab anew? If he didn't, how to understand her motive for lying -- and her summoning such unlikely details as pubic hairs on Coke cans?

I covered the Thomas hearings for The Post, every excruciating hour, and I can imagine, as Kevin Merida and Michael A. Fletcher suggest in their book, "Supreme Discomfort," that the entire story has not been told. Perhaps there was some flirtation, maybe more, that it behooved neither party to acknowledge.

But I also believe the evidence then backed Hill's version of events. What has emerged since only further buttresses her assertions.

Thomas describes Hill as a "touchy and apt to overreact" employee whom he'd refused to promote; who asked to follow him from the Education Department to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission after the alleged harassment; and who continued to seek his professional help after leaving the agency.

"I felt sure that I had never said or done anything to her that was even remotely inappropriate," he writes, and, if he had, "she would have complained loudly and instantly, not waited for a decade to make her displeasure known." For his part, Thomas describes himself as "one of the least likely candidates imaginable for such a charge."
Marcus then goes on to list some of the "evidence" that backs up Hill's version of the story. Of course, all this evidence would be tossed from a court as hearsay, but that doesn't matter to the media. If Thomas complains of a media lynch mob in pinstripes rather than white hoods, perhaps he ought to look also for their press pass.

Everyone assumes that Anita Hill was right. Clarence Thomas thinks she had an axe to grind and now because of the whole incident, Clarence Thomas has an axe to grind and grinding away he is. If the events of our past shape the person we are today, is it any wonder that Clarence Thomas is an angry man. His treatment during his confirmation and his treatment by the liberal establishment (they see him as a traitor to his race) since then would probably lead lesser men to have lashed out long ago and in a much more demonstrative way. In the interviews I have seen and heard, Clarence Thomas may be an angry man, but his is quietly angry, resorting largely to the written word to vent his frustrations.

Instead of letting the Justice have his few minutes to explain his life and the events of it from his point of view, writers like Ruth Marcus have to attack Clarence Thomas again, and again, and again. In the grand scheme of things, does it really matter any more? Will it matter in 20 years or 50 years? No, all this demonstrates is our fascination with the tawdry.

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