I ran across a very interesting article on Reason Online entitled "Native Son, Why A Black Supreme Court Justice Has No Rights A White Man Need Respect." It was in 1857 during the Dred Scott case when the question was raised as to whether Blacks were or were not property and therefore if they had or had no rights as a human being. Supreme Court Chief Justice Taney is quoted as saying, "A Negro has no rights which a white man need respect." This article (dated February 1992) gives an in depth analysis as to how Clarence Thomas was the victim of a very old idea called racism:
One of the major reasons for the persistent problem is that millions of white adult Americans define "racism" as its most pathological manifestations: wearing white gowns and hoods, burning crosses, tarring and feathering blacks, hunting them down with dogs. Because those same millions of white Americans would not dream of committing such atrocities; because they vote for political representatives who pass civil-rights bills; because they applauded Martin Luther King and Thurgood Marshall; because they respect the changing nomenclature by which certain blacks wish to be addressed, they imagine themselves to be free of racism.The author goes on to lay out the racist stereotypes that were applied Thomas from the day he was nominated by President George Bush (the first) until the day he was confirmed by the Senate:
What they have never learned is that racism is an idea, a very old and intransigent idea. That idea exists on an unbroken continuum -- all the way from a form that is fully conscious to a form that is unconscious. Its manifestations can range from the most grossly offensive and scornful invective to a compulsive noblesse oblige that cannot permit itself to make any criticisms at all. But whatever the degree or kind of racism, it invariably contains a double standard: The racist simply does not treat black individuals the same way he treats whites.
The effect of stereotypes on blacks is a sense of being unseen, as in Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man. The effect on whites is the corollary: They do not perceive blacks as real or make the same fine discriminations among blacks that they habitually make among whites. In the last analysis, they do not perceive black individuals; they perceive black skins. And this remains true at every step of the continuum.
It should not, therefore, come as an insuperable shock that the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the nomination of Judge Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court were a racist phenomenon. The "nice" kind; no Simon Legrees or fiery crosses here. But racist nonetheless. Setting aside old segregationist Strom Thurmond, who conscientiously counterfeited a dead man and may, for all I know, actually have been dead, the other senators participated, singly and collectively -- and unwittingly -- in a process that ceaselessly generated negative stereotypes about Thomas.
Another article of note is from the Washington Post. As a result of a hard life, Justice Thomas lashes out at just about everyone in his new book. The article states that "Justice Clarence Thomas settles scores in an angry and vivid forthcoming memoir, scathingly condemning the media, the Democratic senators who opposed his nomination to the Supreme Court, and the "mob" of liberal elites and activist groups that he says desecrated his life." The article (and 60 Minutes interview) shed some light on why he is so bitter:
View and read the transcript of the 60 Minutes interview here.
plez sez:I watched 60 Minutes on Sunday evening and discussed the Clarence Thomas interview with my wife. We both agreed that he has to be the most bitter man alive. He is so filled with disgust about his life and how that shred of a life that he had was utterly destroyed during his Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings.
As a moderate, plezWorld has taken a vastly different approach to Clarence Thomas as evidenced in my Clarence Thomas: American Hero post. For some reason, I've been able to muster up some empathy for the misunderstood and sad man who is Clarence Thomas, only the second Black Supreme Court Justice.
In his book, Thomas writes of his Senate Confirmation Hearings, "The mob I now faced carried no ropes or guns. Its weapons were smooth-tongued lies spoken into microphones and printed on the front pages of America's newspapers. But it was a mob all the same, and its purpose -- to keep the black man in his place -- was unchanged." It is obvious that he understands that he was a victim of racism, I don't think he understands that the Republicans who propped him up where as racist as the Democrats who attacked him.
Clarence Thomas is a sad and bitter man who appears to find no joy in being a member of the highest court in the land. In the television interview, he had a difficult time even referring to himself as a Black man. To me that was the saddest revelation of all: he hates life, he hates what life has done to him, and above all, he hates himself. That is sad...