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Comment on ‘Clarence Thomas, Silent but Sure’ (Linda Greenhouse, 03/12/2010)

March 12, 2010

In response to:

Clarence Thomas, Silent but Sure

New York Times | March 10, 2010

It should be clear to all of us by now that the charitable interpretation of Mr. Thomas’* famous “there but for the grace of god go I” statement represents yet another of in a long string of misinterpretations that produced by the kabuki theatre that passes for judicial confirmation hearings in our country. He was not telling us that he realized that the inmates were good people who ended up being herded onto a prison bus for lack of the kind of good fortune he experienced, as that statement is usually understood to indicate; rather, he was telling us — albeit unconsciously — that he saw himself as undeserving of his position in life and that in all fairness he should be amongst their ranks.

The evidence is clear. Mr. Thomas’ well-documented rage at having been the beneficiary of affirmative-action policies, his own statements about the harsh treatment he received at the hands of his primary caregiver, and the chronic antipathy – if not outright rage – expressed towards victims in his rulings suggest a deep and abiding self-loathing, bordering on the psychopathic. His behavior on the bench reinforces this designation – psychopaths are often characterized by their difficulty in interacting with others, particularly in situations of stress or broad scrutiny. Likewise, the Anita Hill incident is illuminating; an effort to be flirtatious that instead led to a faux pas because he was unable to perceive that the gambit would unwelcome.

Clarence Thomas is a dangerous man, and my guess would be that he knows it. That’s the simplest explanation for why he’s silent on the bench – the only place he feels sufficiently comfortable to reveal his true self is in the protective enclave of his chambers, surrounded by hand-picked sycophants such as Mr. Yoo, in control of his surroundings and able draft and re-draft opinions so that they express his will without revealing the depth and toxicity of his unfiltered thoughts. The fact that he holds his position is supremely ironic (no pun intended), especially when you consider that Bush 41’s calculus for placing him there likely involved a presumption that underneath the mask of conservatism lay something a little more humanistic. There’s something Shakespearean about the guy, but I’m afraid the tragedy hits most deeply at the Constitution and the extent to which he has been complicit in the unraveling of our society.

* I just can’t bring myself to use the label ‘Justice’ when speaking of him.

It should be clear to all of us by now that the charitable interpretation of Mr. Thomas’s* famous “there but for the grace of god go I” statement represents yet another of in a long string of misinterpretations that produced by the kabuki theatre that passes for judicial confirmation hearings in our country. What he was actually telling us was that he saw little difference between himself and those inmates.

The evidence is clear. Mr. Thomas’s well-documented rage at having been the beneficiary of affirmative-action policies, his own statements about the harsh treatment he received at the hands of his primary caregiver, and the chronic antipathy – if not outright rage – expressed towards victims in his rulings suggest a deep and abiding self-loathing, bordering on the psychopathic. His behavior on the bench reinforces this designation – psychopaths are often characterized by their difficulty in interacting with others, particularly in situations of stress or broad scrutiny. Likewise, the Anita Hill incident is illuminating; an effort to be flirtatious that instead led to a faux pas because he was unable to perceive that the gambit would unwelcome.

Clarence Thomas is a dangerous man, and my guess would be that he knows it. That’s the simplest explanation for why he’s silent on the bench – the only place he feels sufficiently comfortable to reveal his true self is in the protective enclave of his chambers, surrounded by hand-picked sycophants such as Mr. Yoo, in control of his surroundings and able draft and re-draft opinions so that they express his will without revealing the depth and toxicity of his unfiltered thoughts. The fact that he holds his position is supremely ironic (no pun intended), especially when you consider that Bush 41’s calculus for placing him there likely involved a presumption that underneath the mask of conservatism lay something a little more humanistic. There’s something Shakespearean about the guy, but I’m afraid the tragedy hits most deeply at the Constitution and the extent to which he has been complicit in the unraveling of our society.

www.conscienceofaprogressive.com

* I just can’t bring myself to use the label ‘Justice’ when speaking of him.

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