Clarence Thomas: A Silent Justice Speaks Out

And he says he believes the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearings into Anita Hill's allegation of sexual harassment — when 14 white Senators asked excruciatingly private questions about pornography and penis sizes — would not have occurred had they both been white.

"I doubt it," he says forcefully. "Can you think of any other examples?"

In discussing the hearings into Hill's allegations, Thomas's angriest words are for Democratic senators, the liberal interest groups and the media. He turns a blowtorch on each, blasting them in turn for their respective roles in what he calls "the most inhumane thing" that ever has ever happened to him.

At the time, he saw those hearings in a racial context. Time has only made him more assured.

"I'd grown up fearing the lynch mobs of the Ku Klux Klan; as an adult I was starting to wonder if I'd been afraid of the wrong white people all along — where I was being pursued not by bigots in white robes, but by left-wing zealots draped in flowing sanctimony," he wrote in his book.

In the interview at his home, with his wife Virginia at his side during part of it, Thomas talks in detail about the hearings and how he believes they perpetuated the vilest stereotypes about black men — stereotypes about sexual aggression that had long condemned them to death in the South and had been recounted by African-American novelists in harrowing detail. It all, he says was an effort to destroy his nomination and keep him off the Court.

He says he had to be "dehumanized" and "destroyed," because he held views considered heretical for a black man — because, as he puts it, he was in a different ideological neighborhood and refused to buy into the views that whites had "disseminated as the prevailing view for blacks."

"I saw it for what it was, and I still see it for exactly what it was," Thomas says. "I think it was an effort to keep me in my place."

That's not to say he has kind words for Hill, whom he describes as mediocre, unpleasant and a "combative … in your face person." But Thomas suggests she was swept up in the agenda of his ideological opponents. He wrote that her charges were "ridiculous" and "preposterous," and says they were "nothing more than an extravagant fiction concocted so as to have the maximum possible impact on the public."

"My guess was that a combination of ego, ambition, and immaturity had caused her to let herself be drawn into the effort to destroy me," he wrote in the book.

He doesn't care to hear people tell him they believed him, as an overwhelming majority of Americans, black and white, did in immediate aftermath of the hearings. The point, he thinks, is they should not have been asked to believe at all.

"It was a weapon, and we understood that," he says. "And I think less of people who actually do not see what was going on, that you're such a dupe that you can't see that."

No justice in modern American history has been subjected to such vitriolic personal attacks as Clarence Thomas. Many liberal blacks view him with anger or disgust and consider him a traitor to his race, suggesting he is doing the bidding of white conservatives seeking to undo a generation of progress on civil rights. He been portrayed as a lawn jockey, a 'house slave," and repeatedly called an "Uncle Tom," including by prominent black officials.

Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...