Tuesday, October 2, 2007

The Psuedologicia Fantasia That is Clarence Thomas' My Grandfather’s Son

"I will not stand by silently and allow him, in his anger, to reinvent me." - ANITA HILL, on CLARENCE THOMAS

The term psuedologicia fantasia is one used in psychiatric and mental health circles to describe someone using a mixture of fact and fantasy to bolster one's self-esteem. It would not be a stretch to use that term to describe My Grandfather's Son, the new memoir penned by Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas.

Even as he tries to re-invent himself and posture for the public's consumption, once again, Thomas goes on the attack against Anita Hill, attacking her character and integrity even as he presents no factual basis for which he could substantiate his claims. He goes on nurse grudges and to project his own issues onto others, particularly those whom have opposed his nomination as a Supreme Court justice. In fact, the rage he harbors (which his memoir makes loud and clear) does serve to raise serious questions about whether he can be impartial with respect to judicial jurisprudence, especially given many of the cases the Supreme Court hears.

As Anita Hill notes in today's New York Times:

Regrettably, since 1991, I have repeatedly seen this kind of character attack on women and men who complain of harassment and discrimination in the workplace. In efforts to assail their accusers’ credibility, detractors routinely diminish people’s professional contributions. Often the accused is a supervisor, in a position to describe the complaining employee’s work as “mediocre” or the employee as incompetent. Those accused of inappropriate behavior also often portray the individuals who complain as bizarre caricatures of themselves — oversensitive, even fanatical, and often immoral — even though they enjoy good and productive working relationships with their colleagues.

Finally, when attacks on the accusers’ credibility fail, those accused of workplace improprieties downgrade the level of harm that may have occurred. When sensing that others will believe their accusers’ versions of events, individuals confronted with their own bad behavior try to reduce legitimate concerns to the level of mere words or “slights” that should be dismissed without discussion.

Fortunately, we have made progress since 1991. Today, when employees complain of abuse in the workplace, investigators and judges are more likely to examine all the evidence and less likely to simply accept as true the word of those in power. But that could change. Our legal system will suffer if a sitting justice’s vitriolic pursuit of personal vindication discourages others from standing up for their rights.

This is not just about "he said, she said." This is about double standards, how we do unto others, and how all this reflects on who we are as a people. In commenting on the current Isiah Thomas controversy in the Huffington Post, Arlene M. Roberts observes: In a video deposition, Isiah said that while it was always wrong for a white man to verbally abuse a black woman in such a manner, it was "not as much ... I'm sorry to say," for a black man to do likewise. goes on to add, "As a black woman, I am truly at a loss as to how Isiah makes this distinction.

Don Imus got bitch-slapped and smacked down -- and rightfully so -- when he referred to members of Rutgers University's women's basketball team as "nappy-headed hos." And earlier today, Isiah Thomas and the New York Knicks got hit in the pocketbook where it hurts when a federal jury decided Madison Square Garden and its chairman, James Dolan, must pay $11.6 million in damages to former New York Knicks executive Anucha Browne Sanders in her sexual harassment lawsuit -- $6 million for allowing a hostile work environment to exist and $2.6 million for retaliation; MSG chairman Dolan owes $3 million. And in addition, the jury also found Knicks coach Isiah Thomas subjected Browne Sanders to unwanted advances and a barrage of verbal insults, but that he did not have to pay punitive damages.

Perhaps this judgment levied against MSG and the New York Knicks can be attributed to the legacy Anita Hill left us when sixteen years ago, she summoned the courage to find her voice and to go in front of a Senate confirmation hearing, under oath, under the glare of television cameras, and speak truth to power. And while Republican Senators slighted her character with rumor and innuendo, she stood by her story. Now guess as to which had the most to lose...and the most to gain? After all, appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court are for life.

Now what do you expect from someone whose quirky reasoning about affirmative action -- something he has benefited from but is now trying to pull the ladder out from others? And that's on top of the anger he has for what he perceives as persecution by liberals. Now I don't want to get into attacking his ideology or his numerous paradoxes in detail, but perhaps the best way to respond to Clarence Thomas's pathetic attempt at re-inventing and re-habilitating his image would be not to buy his book althogether.

Now why do you think there's a marketplace for ideas?

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