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Bearing the Pain of Affirmative Action

The Shame of Clarence Thomas

Thurgood Marshall, Clarence Thomas and Antonin ScaliaThurgood Marshall, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia
 

But maybe I’m living in a fantasyland. Maybe I’m too concerned about human decency versus the cynicism of today’s politics. I guess I’m looking for a 21st Century Judge Joseph Welsh, the man who in the 1950s famously cut Senator Joe MacCarthy off at the knees in the Army hearings by saying, “Sir, have you no sense of decency?” But this is the age of House Of Cards, the back-stabbing political TV soap derivative of Shakespeare’s Richard the Third. We’re told it’s the Clintons’ favorite TV show.

Clarence Thomas sits up there on that high bench like a mocking minstrel show caricature of affirmative action. Dog whistle racism is real and vestiges of the old horrors linger because we too easily absorb moral outrages like the appointment of Clarence Thomas to the seat held by the civil rights giant Thurgood Marshall.

We read that Game Of Thrones is making rape as a Machiavellian political act more acceptable. Maybe, as with race, life will imitate art and in the coming decades dog whistles will be confusing the issue about rape.

As my underground progressive mind works with the fodder of the moment, I imagine the loquacious Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy and mistress-scorned LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling both seeing an ally in Clarence Thomas. In this scene, Thomas and his wife are on a cross-country tour in their big cozy camper. They all getting together in some plush surrounding -- maybe on Sterling’s yacht or the porch of Bundy’s ranch house. They eat a dinner of bloody rare steaks from federally subsidized cattle. They’re all having a fine time telling stories and comparing notes how poor black people are so hurt and abused by liberal federal help. As self-made, rugged individuals all, they assure themselves the best thing for poor black folks is what trickles down from their great enterprises. At this point, these giants of the Free Market System are joined by Dick Cheney. They quaff a few cold beers. Then they all head for the quail shooting range.

Of course, this is the fictional ravings of an ungrateful underground man whose liver hurts.

What I really think is that Clarence Thomas is a rigid and bitter man who would benefit from a major change in his life. My suggestion would be that he search his soul and man up, admit he’s a hypocritical example of affirmative action and then resign. I’d be the first to congratulate him for lifting that humiliating burden off his shoulders. I think he’d feel a whole lot better. And Americans would begin to admire him more.

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