Justice Clarence Thomas is granting a rare flurry of interviews this week to promote his newly released memoir, My Grandfather’s Son, providing the public with an unusually detailed glimpse into the life of a member of the Supreme Court. Thomas openly discussed the controversy that has swirled around him since the first President Bush nominated him in 1991, saying that his critics want to see him “destroyed” because he doesn’t “follow in this cult-like way something that blacks are supposed to believe.”
Sixteen years after Anita Hill told senators that Clarence Thomas had subjected her to sexual harassment, said USA Today in an editorial, “the truth remains indeterminable.” But one thing is clear: “Thomas carries a huge chip on his shoulder.” In his memoir, he “comes off as a strikingly angry man, and not just about Hill.” He also seems to be angry that Reagan and the first Bush gave him “plum” jobs “in part because of race.”
If Thomas “weren’t a black conservative,” said Rich Lowry in the National Review Online, his memoir would be “hailed as a kind of classic.” It’s “a powerful, moving tale of a black man’s ascent from bone-crushing poverty to the pinnacle of the American system of government.” It’s true that the pages about Anita Hill’s allegations “pulse with anger,” but he insists he never mistreated her—so, can you blame him?
“Justice Thomas has every right to present himself as he wished in his new memoir,” said Anita Hill in The New York Times. “”But I will not stand by silently and allow him, in his anger, to reinvent me.” Thomas repeats “a litany of unsubstantiated representations and outright smears that Republican senators made about me” during his confirmation hearings. Luckily, complaints of abuse in the workplace are taken more seriously today than they were in 1991. But “our legal system will suffer if a sitting justice’s vitriolic pursuit of personal vindication discourages others from standing up for their rights.”