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Clarence Thomas: Sex charges keep black men in their 'place'

News breaking spectacularly across the media that black Republican Herman Cain faced sexual harrassment charges – which Cain has called “false” and “baseless” – when head of the National Restaurant Association comes in striking parallel to allegations brought against another black conservative, Clarence Thomas, just as he, too, was rising to national prominence.

When Justice Thomas was about to be confirmed to the Supreme Court in 1991, he was similarly stunned by reports of sexual misconduct charges, which he too denied, from former staffer Anita Hill. Afterward he wrote in his autobiography, “My Grandfather’s Son,” that America, and particularly the American left, has a habit of using trumped up sex charges as a way to “persecute black men who step out of line.”

“I’d warned [my wife] that some of my opponents would try to kill me,” Thomas writes. “Now we both knew what their weapon of choice was to be: the age-old blunt instrument of accusing a black man of sexual misconduct.”

He continues, “In Washington, what matters is not what you do but what people can be made to think you’ve done.”

Herman Cain

Atlanta businessman Cain, who has been enjoying a meteoric rise in the polls in his quest to secure the GOP presidential nomination, has recently faced a similar sex charge stunner.

According to a report in Politico, two female restaurant association employees in the 1990s complained of sexually suggestive behavior by Cain. They allegedly signed agreements with the restaurant group that gave them financial payouts to leave the association.

Cain told Fox News earlier today, “I have never sexually harassed anyone, let’s say that. Secondly, I’ve never sexually harassed anyone, and yes, I was falsely accused while I was at the National Restaurant Association, and I say falsely, because it turned out, after the investigation, to be baseless. The people mentioned in that article were the ones who would be aware of any misdoings, and they have attested to my integrity and my character. It is totally baseless, and totally false, never have I committed any sort of sexual harassment.”

Radio host Rush Limbaugh is among those who apparently not only believe Cain but also question the motives of the report, calling the mainstream media frenzy over the allegations “an unconscionable, racially stereotypical attack on an independent, self-reliant conservative black because for him that [self-reliant] behavior is not allowed.”

In his memoir, Thomas insists he was victim to exactly the same tactic Limbaugh condemned:

“I’d grown up hyperconscious of the need to avoid even the appearance of such impropriety,” Thomas writes, “for I was intensely aware of America’s long and ugly history of using lies about sex as excuses to persecute black men who stepped out of line.”

In a chapter called “Invitation to a Lynching,” Thomas writes, “Reading Richard Wright’s ‘Native Son’ had made the strongest possible impression on me as a college student. What had happened to Bigger Thomas, I knew, could happen to any black man, including me. ‘To hint that he had committed a sex crime was to pronounce a death sentence.’ This was why I’d gone out of my way to avoid the very behavior of which I was now being accused.”

Nonetheless, Thomas argues, the charges against him were more about swaying national perception than uncovering the facts behind Hill’s allegations.

“I wasn’t going before a judge and jury,” Thomas writes. “Instead I was up against a phalanx of smart, well-heeled interest groups that were working hand-in-hand with the media and the powerful politicians who opposed my nomination.”

He concludes, “I refused to bow down to the superior wisdom of the white liberals who thought they knew what was better for blacks; since I didn’t know my place, I had to be put down.”

Read more from Thomas’ memoir, “My Grandfather’s Son,”  or more about Cain in his book, “This Is Herman Cain! My Journey to the White House.”