Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Another SCOTUS Nominee

More contentious than the Sonia Sotomayor Supreme Court justice hearings, more salacious than the Robert Bork hearings and more racially devastating than the original OJ Simpson trial were the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court hearings. I was living single in a one-bedroom apartment. And I was sickeningly obsessed with the hearings. I could not stay away.

On October 14, 1991 I wrote in my journal:

“Thank you, God, for the merciful Joe Biden, who finally ended the proceedings. The fact is that no-one will ever know the truth besides Professor Anita Hill and Judge Clarence Thomas. Meanwhile souls are ripped apart--the soul of the nation, the soul of black America, the souls of black people.

I am torn as a supporter of Thomas on general grounds: that he is a black man who is apparently in agreement with my views. But he is apparently being coached by Republicans more than by his own conscience. I’m torn because Anita Hill, whose views I am probably less comfortable with is more convincing to me. I think she too is being coached, if not by the Democrats then by women’s activists. But somehow her charges still ring of greater authenticity than his denials.

It doesn’t help that they are both apparently Christian people with spotless reputations. The soul of Christian America is also ripped.

The sickest part is that confirmation will not answer the questions. This was not a confirmation hearing; it was a spectacle; it was a political war. It was not a confirmation; the parties have made it an issue of defamation of character. They’ve used a black man and a black woman to fight their wars, to further drive a wedge between in the race, to further strain the national image of black men and black women.

If I were Clarence Thomas (and it feels like I am) I wouldn’t want the nomination at this point. I’d rather retire to relative quiet in a less visible job than to live with the bittersweetness of an appointment under these circumstances. He is a severely wounded man, regardless of whether the charges are true. For some time he will be an inadequate justice. For much longer, he will be suspected, not trusted. That is the devastating blow this process has dealt. That, plus the stealing of black role models who 'deign to think for themselves.'

No, this process was not about blacks and whites, men and women, but the effect has been felt. So if I were Judge Thomas, I would prefer not to serve. It all leaves such a bitter taste in the mouth.”

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