Home Page

Reports Columns Book Other Writings Biog

25                                                                                                       Proud to be a Card-Carrying, Flag-Waving, Patriotic American Liberal

Tell Me Again – Which Uppity Black Got Lynched?

October 14, 1991
Along with much of the nation, I have been watching television as much as my other duties would allow the last few days, to grasp the drama going on in Washington.

Professor Anita Hill, to my reading of her face and demeanor, told a painful and graphic story, not because she was a publicity seeker or a voyeur, but because her honesty and integrity compelled her, indeed demanded her, to do so.

The reactions of several of the senators, and of Judge Thomas, were telling.

Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah made the blatant statement that any man who would do what Anita Hill said Clarence Thomas did would be so sick and mentally deranged as to require not just punishment, but outright institutionalization.

Really, Senator? If those actions warrant confinement, we'd better launch a full-scale building program to house all these crazies.

And the stunned look on Judge Thomas' face as Sen. Hatch made the pronouncement sealed any possibility that the good judge would admit to any, even the least, of Anita Hill's accusations. Nice move, Senator.

The next political pronouncement, that Anita Hill should have come forward at the time, 10 years ago, and accused her boss, is equally unrealistic.

With 10 years of valuable and impeccable service behind her, her integrity is still being called into question, her reputation impugned, and her name placed on blacklists all over the country.

As a young 25-year-old lawyer, making an accusation of a respected superior would have been professional suicide. She knew it and Clarence Thomas knew it.

The fact that the senators don't know it is proof that they are living in a fantasy world. Yes, if a law exists it helps more than if it didn't exist. But to profess that the mere existence of a law protects people absolutely and clearly from coercion and intimidation speaks to me of self-delusion. Laws don't protect people from violators. Protective orders don't protect women from abusive husbands or boyfriends. It may provide for some form of redress, but it is often too little and too late.

A long time ago, I was hired on at the Providence Journal in Rhode Island as an editorial assistant. I was 22 years old and married. I firmly believed that the existence of my marriage protected me from any sexual advances from any man anywhere in the country. I was wrong.

A long-time reporter, passed over for promotion, spent a lot of time consoling himself with a bottle kept in his desk. He also seemed to want to distract himself from his problems by educating me in how grown-ups talked to each other. He was graphic, vulgar and insistent. He never touched me, but I realized a marriage certificate did not protect me from his sexual harassment. He didn't think what he was doing was wrong. He thought he was advancing my education.

Did I complain? No. I liked my job, I didn't want to be labeled a trouble-maker. I avoided him, and kept my mouth shut.

Six months later he was diagnosed with cancer, and he died a few months after that. The problem disappeared through divine intervention, something I'm sure Anita Hill wishes had happened in her case.

But back to Washington. The most telling comments to my mind are not the detailed substance of the accusations, but Clarence Thomas' reaction to them.

I was not the only one amazed and appalled that Thomas refused to listen to Anita Hill's testimony. Here is a lawyer, charged with a crime he claims he did not commit. Yet his mind would not let go of his anger, his rage, long enough to listen to the exact nature of the accusations. He refused to watch.

It is rather amazing to me that this judge, on the verge of being appointed to the highest court in the land, feels comfortable in denying all the charges against him even though he refused to listen to just what those charges were.

Why? I can only come to one conclusion. He didn't need to hear what she would say because he knew Anita Hill would be impeccable with the truth and he knew what she would say.

I think it was Sen. Hough Hefflin who pointed out this inconsistency. The senator said not listening to both sides of the case does not speak well for Thomas' judicial jurisprudence. I agree.

If Judge Thomas had exhibited as much dignity and grace as did Anita Hill during all these proceedings, the decision would be a hard one to make. But his demeanor, his poutings, his posturing, his rage, his outbursts, his own unsupported charges and accusations, speak more to his character than anything Anita Hill has said. How would he react under pressure on the Supreme Court? Do we really want such volatility in our highest officers of the court?

If he is denied a seat on the Supreme Court, as I sincerely hope he will be, he can try to point the finger at Anita Hill. But to my mind, he has no one to blame but himself.

Top of page

Home Page

Reports Columns Book Other Writings Biog

Get your own hard-copy version of this book!!!

e-mail to jeanhay@brightberrypress.com

Authorized and paid for by Jean Hay for Congress and Jean Hay for U.S. Senate
PO Box 319, Stillwater ME 04468-0319 Bruce Littlefield, Treasurer.

NOTE to reader: If you have downloaded this