THE LARGEST COLLECTION OF LEGAL JOBS ON EARTH
The Purging of Justice Thomas [By James Kilpatrick] Two questions arise: Why did Anita Hill do what she did then? And why, with the publication of “My Grandfather’s Son,” has Clarence Thomas done what he has done now?
William Congreve answered the first
In the 1950s, Pinpoint, 10 miles southeast
Committee had listened to her lies. He was
question three centuries ago: Hell hath no
of Savannah, “was too small to be properly
fury like a woman scorned.
called a town. No more than a hundred people lived there, most of whom were
“This is a circus. It is a national disgrace,
The second question is tougher. An easy
related to me in one way or another. Their
and from my standpoint, as a black
answer is that Justice Thomas did it for
lives were a daily struggle for the barest
American, it is a high-tech lynching for
money — that is, that he wrote this painful
of essentials, food, clothing and shelter.
uppity blacks who in any way deign to think
memoir mainly for the $1.5 million advance
Doctors were few and far between, so when
for themselves, to do for themselves, to
he received from HarperCollins. A better
you got sick, you stayed that way, and often
have different ideas, and it is a message
answer lies in the theory of catharsis, “a
you died of it.
that, unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you, you will be
purification of the emotions that brings about spiritual renewal or release from
“The house in which I was born was a
tension.” Sixteen years after his agonizing
shanty with no bathroom and no electricity
confirmation to the Supreme Court, Thomas
except for a single light in the living room.
had to pull this festering splinter: He would
Kerosene lamps lit the rest of the house. In
write the pain out of his system. Now! Done!
the wintertime was plugged up the cracks
But pus is pretty only to the patient.
and holes in the walls with old newspapers. Water came from a nearby faucet. We
In an engrossing account of his boyhood
carried it through the woods in old lard
in Pinpoint, Ga., Thomas starts with his
hardscrabble beginnings: Readers who skip the middle chapters “I was 9 years old when I met my father.
of Thomas’ memoir do themselves a
His name was M.C. Thomas, and my birth
disservice. Eventually his race would
certificate describes him as a ‘laborer.’”
become the decisive factor in his career, but along the way he provided evidence of
The meeting took place at a housing project
real guts and modest talent. Then came
where the father was visiting. Thomas and
his rise to become chairman of the Equal
his younger brother arrived on schedule:
Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), his elevation to a circuit judgeship,
lynched.” Permit me a personal word: My beloved wife, Hearst columnist Marianne Means, has a very different view of Justice Thomas and his book. Last week she characterized his memoir as 289 pages of whine. In her biased view, Anita Hill was a Teller of Truth, a veritable Joan of Arc. In my own biased view, Hill was a vengeful woman who was determined to get back at a man who clearly thought she was less than wonderful. She has never been able to explain why she followed Thomas — this beast, this awful person, this tawdry, hypersexed, utterly detestable creep! — from one job to another. But let it go. To each his own catharsis.
“’I am your daddy,’ he told us in a firm,
and finally in the summer of 1991 his
I wish Thomas had not published this book.
shameless voice that carried no hint of
nomination to the Supreme Court of the
Now can I go to sleep?
remorse for his inexplicable absence from
United States. (Letters to Mr. Kilpatrick should be sent by
our lives. He said nothing about loving
e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
or missing us, and we didn’t say much in
If Thomas had ended his memoir at that
return — it was as though we were meeting
point he would have had a good book but
a total stranger — but he treated us politely
no bonanza. For his own integrity — and
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enough, and even promised to send us a
to earn that fat advance — he had publicly
pair of Elgin watches with flexible bands,
to squeeze the festering boil. Without the
which were popular at the time. Though we
final 50 pages there would have been no
watched the mail every day, the watches
marketable book. So, Anita Hill had defamed
him. Members of the Senate Judiciary
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Published on Jan 28, 2013
The second question is tougher. An easy answer is that Justice Thomas did it for money — that is, that he wrote this painful memoir mainly f...