CNN: Clarence Thomas has a lot of nerve not acting authentically black
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This dreck shows up every once in awhile, and while there’s an understandable impulse to just ignore it, I think it’s more important to expose it. Plain and simple, this piece written by John Blake on CNN.com is a racist attack on Clarence Thomas. What makes it so is the constant implication throughout the piece that Thomas has no right to change his thinking on the law because he is black, and never would have gotten where he is without the race-conscious measures Thomas now believes are unconstitutional:
Would Thomas have risen so far so quickly had he not been black?
CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin doesn’t think so. In a biting 2007 New Yorker magazine review of Thomas’ memoir, Toobin wrote that Thomas had never tried a case or argued an appeal in any federal court and had never produced any scholarly work when he made the D.C. appeals court.
“Yale and Reagan treated him the same way, but he hates one and reveres the other,” Toobin wrote. “Thomas never acknowledges, much less explains, the contradiction.”
When Bush selected Thomas in 1991 to replace Thurgood Marshall, the court’s first black justice, the questions about Thomas’ qualifications intensified. Bush said he picked “the best qualified” nominee, but Thomas questioned that in his memoir, saying even he had doubts about Bush’s “extravagant” claim.
If you read through the piece, you will find that every knock against Thomas comes down to something from his personal life. Blake believes Thomas has no right to think for himself, to learn anything, to evolve in his views, because of where he has been and what he has experienced.
That is like telling a former welfare recipient who becomes successful in life that he has no right to criticize welfare programs. The rags-to-riches guy might well respond that when he was on welfare, he had no ambition, drive or self-esteem, and he came to learn that only by breaking free of this dependency could he truly do well in life.
Maybe Thomas benefited from race-conscious policies and maybe he didn’t. No one is on the record saying they appointed him for that reason, so it is sheerly speculation on the part of Blake and Toobin to claim that is the case. And in truth, the very fact that they are making the claim sort of proves Thomas’s point. If every successful black person is assumed to have been an affirmative action case, who “never would have made it if he weren’t black,” then doesn’t that show that affirmative action is at best a double-edged sword? It might open a door for you, but it also causes a lot of people to look at you and wonder if you really deserved the opportunity on your own merits. If it’s true that Thomas got some breaks because of affirmative action, maybe he would have preferred to be made to earn it like everyone else. Maybe a lot of minorities would.
Perhaps the most insidious part of the piece is this:
Question 2: How does Thomas embrace an “originalist” view of the Constitution when the framers would have considered him a slave?
A lot of originalist judges rhapsodize about the wisdom of the Constitution’s framers, but Thomas approaches the Constitution with a different racial history. Blacks were enslaved by many of the founding fathers who talked about liberty and freedom.
How does a black judge become an originalist when the “original intent” of the Constitution was to preserve slavery and classify slaves as three-fifths of a human being?
Actually, if you keep reading, you’ll see that Thomas gives an excellent answer to the question, based on the idea that there was a distinction between the Founders’ principles and their practices. But the question is dishonest from the start. No one saw slaves as “three-fifths” of a person. That was an uneasy compromise between people who opposed slavery and those who supported it, in recognition of the fact that there was no way to settle the question politically at that point, and that this couldn’t be allowed to prevent the founding of the nation.
The entire piece is just dripping with implication that Thomas is simply not allowed to be conservative because he is black. Those of us who are associated with Herman Cain know all about that. And that makes the piece a racist attack by definition.