Sunday, September 30, 2007

My Grandfather's Son-Clarence Thomas

"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."

Justice Thomas also has some very pointed words about the way minorities in general and blacks in particular are viewed as inferior because of affirmative action programs. This is an issue conservatives should embrace and make their own like President Bush tried very early on when he talked about the soft bigotry of low expectations.

Conservatives tend to be scared of the issue of affirmative action because of the fact that blacks were placed in a position of disadvantage for so long and the minute you begin to make an argument against the practice you're labeled as a bigot. The answer isn't in lowering standards to perpetuate the myth that blacks aren't capable. This is the myth that allows race warlords like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton to flourish. The answer lies in making sure the doors are always open for the best and the brightest and the reality is we're already there if we would only accept it and promote striving for excellence.

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