The cover of the NYT‘s book review section on Sunday featured Kevin Merida and Michael A. Fletcher’s Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas.
An underlying theme of the review, if not the book itself, is that there is an inherent contradiction between being black and conservative:
Thus, although he seriously believes that his extremely conservative legal opinions are in the best interests of African-Americans, and yearns to be respected by them, he is arguably one of the most viscerally despised people in black America. It is incontestable that he has benefited from affirmative action at critical moments in his life, yet he denounces the policy and has persuaded himself that it played little part in his success. He berates disadvantaged people who view themselves as victims of racism and preaches an austere individualism, yet harbors self-pitying feelings of resentment and anger at his own experiences of racism. His ardent defense of states’ rights would have required him to uphold Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law, not to mention segregated education, yet he lives with a white wife in Virginia. He is said to dislike light-skinned blacks, yet he is the legal guardian of a biracial child, the son of one of his numerous poor relatives….
Thomas says that growing up, he was teased mercilessly because his hair, complexion and features were too “Negroid” and that his schoolyard nickname was “ABC: America’s Blackest Child.” The authors seem inclined to believe contemporaries of Thomas who claim that he exaggerates and has confused class prejudice with color prejudice, as if class prejudice were any less execrable. On this, I’m inclined to believe Thomas, although, given where he now sits, the wife he sleeps with, the child he has custody of and the company he keeps, it might be time to get over it.
Then we get this bit about the confirmation hearings:
Of greater import would have been a critical examination of the bruising politics behind these hearings, the way both sides manipulated Thomas and
Anita Hill, and the questionable ethics and strategic blunder of the left in focusing on Thomas’s sexuality, given America’s malignant racial history on this subject, instead of on his suspect qualifications for the job.
Under normal circumstances, a black man who came from a poor, isolated, part of Georgia, overcame racial prejudice and worked his way up to become a Supreme Court justice would be a hero of the left. However, instead of his life experiences turning him toward liberalism, Thomas turned toward religion, individualism, and a belief in personal responsibility. So to the left, he is an unqualified moron who only got where he is because of affirmative action.