… as far as I’m concerned, it is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate rather than hung from a tree.
~ Clarence Thomas, before the Senate Judiciary Committee, 1991
What is a friend? A single soul dwelling in two bodies.
For 16 years I sat patiently, I sat silently while they mercilessly slandered your name. For 16 years I sat patiently, I sat silently while they called you all manner of epithets: “Uncle Tom,” “Uncle Clarence Thomas,” “marginal,” “a joke,” “incompetent,” “a pornographer,” “traitor,” “a slave.” For 16 years I sat patiently, I sat silently while they caricatured you in blackface as “Aunt Jemima” and a diminutive lawn jockey on the cover of a national magazine (George Curry’s Emerge [now defunct]). For 16 years I sat patiently, I sat silently as propagandists like New York Times journalist Adam Cohen explained your 16 years of silence on the bench with claims like: “He is afraid that if he speaks he will reveal his ignorance about the case.”
For 16 years I sat patiently, I sat silently while our own people – black law professors, academics, doctors, lawyers, judges, civil rights activists, mayors, black preachers, teachers, federal and state employees, politicians, journalists, political commentators, Oprah – improved their public standing and launched lucrative careers vilifying your name without just cause … yet, I sat patiently, I sat silently … until now.
I consider Justice Clarence Thomas, born this day 59 years ago, one of the closest friends I will ever have in this life. However, he is not a friend in the traditional sense of knowing someone you grew up with, or even someone you see often or visit with regularly. I have never met the man. “Well, Ellis, if you never met Justice Thomas, how can you call him your ‘friend’?” Justice Thomas is my friend because 16 years ago when I was a freshman law student about to flunk out of law school, this man sent me letters of encouragement urging me “Onwards ever – backwards, never.”
It was the summer of 1991, the same time of Thomas’s grueling Supreme Court confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee when as a novice conservative Republican of just three years, I witnessed the attempted “high-tech lynching” of this honorable man by a coalition of feminists, Democrats, liberal special interest groups, the American Bar Association, the law academy and the mainstream media, notably the mercurial Nina Totenberg of National Public Radio (who outed the infamous Anita Hill). Even my own people all excitedly applauded the looming demise of the Thomas nomination from the shadows.
All the factions of liberalism were literally beside themselves and ecstatic with glee. They were preparing for a lavish victory party. Noted feminist Florence Kennedy, at a July 1991 conference of the National Organization of Women, triumphantly exclaimed, “We’re going to ‘Bork’ him [Clarence Thomas].”
As they got their party preparations all in order – the cake, the ice cream, the streamers, the confetti, the party horns, the colorful hats and of course, the Kool-Aid, to memorialize their imminent victory in scuttling the nomination of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court, they were jubilant. Hurray! Hurray! What joy! Then, suddenly, I heard a voice from heaven in the manner of Bishop T.D. Jakes, saying: “BUT WAIT A MINUTE, DEVIL … DON’T … CUT … THE CAKE … YET!”
Up until that time during the Senate confirmation hearings, Clarence Thomas was mute, he was silent. Now it was his turn to answer his critics, his accusers, his adversaries. Although he was alone in that chair before the omnipotent Senate Judiciary Committee, which was high and lifted up, Clarence Thomas had God by his side and stood tall like a man. He gave a memorable and passionate defense of his worldview, his legal philosophy, his jurisprudence on a litany of controversial Supreme Court cases – past and potential cases he could rule on in the future – and most notably he ably defended himself against the political hatchet job attempted against his character by Senate Democrats, the white liberal mainstream media and their lackeys, the black elites.
I have just read the latest biography on Justice Clarence Thomas, “Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas” (Doubleday, 2007) by Washington Post reporters Kevin Merida and Michael A. Fletcher. If one is looking for a reasoned and substantive treatment of the most influential and powerful black person in America, then you must look elsewhere, for all you will find in reading this book is the same old hackneyed, ignorant, servile, irrelevant rhetoric about Justice Thomas from two affirmative-action appointees of the white liberal propaganda press.
I surmise that because these two gentlemen aren’t law scholars or academics, they felt little need to include very much on Thomas’s Supreme Court opinions, nor do these gentlemen attempt to offer a substantive and trenchant critique of Thomas’ ideas on politics, his speeches, his legal and judicial philosophy, which after 16 years on the Supreme Court is quite voluminous and magnificent. However, they do devote extended passages in their book to Thomas’s prep school, college and law school years as an affirmative-action recipient only to see him (in their portrayal) hypocritically rule against affirmative action from the bench. However, Justice Thomas resolves this seeming contradiction in the affirmative-action case Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), arguing “that affirmative action stigmatizes all blacks, who are either promoted above their abilities or subjected to the unfair suspicion that they would not be where they are absent a racial preference.”
If Justice Thomas is truly a great man, as I contend here, then why is he so hated by his own people? Like Prometheus, Elijah, David, Socrates, Jesus, St. Augustine, Galileo, Beethoven, Wilberforce, Booker T. Washington, Einstein, Churchill, Ronald Reagan, Mother Teresa and other iconoclasts, Justice Thomas refused to stay on the plantation or have his mind shackled by political mediocrities, subservient thinking or slavish liberal orthodoxy.
Rhetoric by black elites that Thomas has no right to think the way he does because he is black is precisely the type of slavish thinking I’m talking about. Neither Justice Thomas’ mind nor his soul is “divided.” He can (and does) think for himself, and his brilliant ideas are forever codified in his law review articles, speeches and Supreme Court opinions, and are deeply rooted in the three things that made America the greatest nation in the history of humanity – Horatio Alger self-reliance, veneration of the Constitution, and ideas grounded in the Judeo-Christian intellectual traditions of Veritas (Truth).
Thank you, Justice Thomas, for writing me for all those years when most others disregarded me because I embrace the same originalist judicial philosophy as you do, and thus get the same derision you get. Thank you for your excellent legal scholarship on the Supreme Court these 16 years and for your yeoman’s efforts to bring America (and black people) back from the abyss, back to Reason and back to the original intent and principles of the Constitution’s Framers.
Happy birthday, Justice Clarence Thomas … my friend.
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