Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Anita Hill Speaks for Herself

"But I will not stand by silently and allow him, in his anger, to reinvent me."

So says Anita Hill in her op-ed "The Smear This Time" in the New York Times today.

This isn't an invective against her former boss and now Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. It's not a tit-for-tat retaliation against the wicked-witch paintbrush with which the conservative Thomas camp has tried to paint her after her testimony in the hearings for his nomination.

Remember, the Senate committee investigators sought Hill out, she didn't go to them. When asked for her testimony about his suggestive behavior.... now substantiated by others... she only reluctantly cooperated on the condition she would receive whistle-blower protection. She didn't receive that protection. Instead, she became the target of savage personal attacks.

Hill states clearly that Thomas has every right to present himself as he wishes in his new memoir "My Grandfather's Son."

But, she makes it plain that he doesn't have the right to present her however he wishes in that memoir.... "combative left-winger".... "touchy".... prone to overreacting to "slights".... a mediocre employee who had a job in the federal government because he had "given in" to her. Just the opposite is true. He sought her out and hired her not once, but twice.

In his interview on 60 Minutes last Sunday, Thomas said of Hill... "She was not the demure, religious, conservative person that they portrayed." Strange, since as Hill points out, he wrote a letter of recommendation for her to work at the law school at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa.... the very bowels of the religious right.

Instead of adopting his tone, Hill uses the opportunity to remind us of the continuing need to address harassment and discrimination in the workplace.... to not allow character attacks on the accuser.... to not allow the accused to diminish the level of harm.

Hill rightly asserts, "Our legal system will suffer if a sitting justice's vitriolic pursuit of personal vindication discourages others from standing up for their rights."

But, this isn't just any sitting justice.... Thomas is a Supreme Court Justice who aligns himself with the controlling far-right wing of that supposedly nonpartisan body. The very Supremes who foisted The Decider upon us in 2000 with the help of Thomas.

The larger question remains ignored, like the flatulent elephant in the room, does Thomas have the judicial temperament to be an effective, even-handed Supreme Court Judge?

His pay-back memoir and in-your-face hostility on 60 Minutes leads us to seriously question his fitness for that high honor.... an honor Thomas dismissively disdains!

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