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Back to Toobin’s Smears
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Finally, back to a fuller examination of the nasty Jeffrey Toobin New Yorker review of Clarence Thomas’s book, continuing my initial post, here. Other highly objectionable lines from Toobin’s review, taken one by one, are:

1) Thomas’ “anger at racism became an equally intense resentment of efforts to help African-Americans.” That is pure, unadulterated BS, as has been noted by the many people recently who have written of Thomas’ own efforts specificallyt o help black Americans. Toobin makes it sound like it is the GOAL of helping blacks that elicits anger from Thomas, when, quite obviously — so obviously that to ignore this fact is to be deliberately dishonest — what elicits anger from Thomas is a specific METHOD of TRYING to help blacks that Thomas thinks actually hurts them. The distinction between what Toobin wrote and Thomas’s real view is vast, so vast as to represent not just a mistake by Toobin but an ethical transgression.

2) Not clearcut errors of fact, but opinions that I take great exception to: a) Thomas’ portrait of Anita Hill is, says Toobin, “implausible.” (Oh? Then why did SO many people testify before the Senate that it was highly plausible indeed?) b) “extensive corroborating evidence” of Hill’s claims? Huh? The only major supporting witness during the hearings, Judge Hoerchner I think her name was, specifically testified that Hill complained to her about harassment while she, Hoerchner, was still in Washington; but Hill did not begin working for Thomas until AFTER Hoerchner moved away from Washington.

3) For sheer nastiness, nothing can top Toobin’s last paragraph: The tenor of Thomas’s memoir, as well as his judicial record, suggests that he will continue to display his brand of “courage”-that is, to serve the interests of a conservative élite, and hearten Vice-President Cheney and his ideological kin with his exhortation “Be not afraid.” As Thomas has often said, it is a credit to the country that a man from Pin Point can be given the opportunity to serve on the highest court in the land. “As a child, I could not dare dream that I would ever see the Supreme Court, not to mention be nominated to it,” he said on the day he was selected. There is less to celebrate in the way that Thomas has used the opportunity to speak power to truth.

Very clever, Mr. Toobin. What truth, exactly, is Thomas supposedly subjugating under the yoke of “power”??? And to disparage Thomas’ “courage” is just despicable. To say that Thomas is out to “serve the interests of a conservative elite,” etc., is to again portray Thomas as some lackey rather than as his own man who genuinely and consistently adheres to a reading of the Constitution that, whether or not Toobin agrees with it, is transparently respectable (not to mention rigorous) intellectually and internally consistent. Indeed, I would dare say that to once again portray Thomas as a lackey, and as “serving” anybody’s interest other than the interest of his honest reading of the Constitution he is sworn to uphold, is….well, at least borderline racist of Mr. Toobin.

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