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Is the Two Minutes of Hate over yet?

By Jack J. Woehr
web posted July 16, 2001

There's just something about his honor United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas that brings out the worst in my white liberal acquaintances. The filth that is spewed upon his name on the Internet is unparalleled in the history of the medium. There may exist no more attractive hate magnet than this modest and competent federal jurist who once answered someone who told him he had to do thus-and-such, "All I gotta do is be black and die." One may reasonably hold that Thomas is no moral paragon, but America in recent decades has only had one moral paragon in public life, and his term in the White House from 1977-1981 was not universally appreciated. In lieu of a moral paragon, I'll take a man who knows Oliver Wendell Holmes's famed secret of success: "At a very early age I discovered I wasn't God."

The word "liberal" to me, an English speaker in a nation of Homer Simpsons, means "open handed and of a generous spirit." To the so-called "liberals" who take on Justice Thomas, "liberal" apparently means, "licenced to hate in positively Orwellian fashion." I want to know, when does the Two Minutes' Hate directed at Clarence Thomas end?

It's racism, simply racism. Clarence Thomas is not the white liberal's black man. Here in Colorado, African Americans are significant players in the information industry well out of proportion to their numbers (roughly 4% of the general population). They are active in numerous professional associations, have the eye of the press and the ear of the politicians, and proudly, have provided us our nation's only black lieutenant governor, the Hon. Joe Rogers. This prosperous black middle class is overwhelmingly liberal in the humanistic sense and conservative in the political and fiscal sense. They are moving up. They want stability, prosperity and recognition for their achievements, which are personal, significant and genuine. And all of those in this grouping with whom I have business and social contacts empathize fully with Justice Thomas and his Howard-the-Duck-like struggle to survive "in a world he never made".

Clarence ThomasIt's tough being a black man in a white man's world. A child can read that wisdom in Clarence Thomas's face whenever he opens his mouth in public. Thomas possesses the disarming directness which comes naturally to those who have had to scramble, and is arguably the frankest justice on the court. He told us what the Election 2000 decision was about when, shortly after the ruling, he informed a high-school class that "We did it to save the Constitution." Reminiscent of the British joke, "God Save the Queen from what?" this unrehearsed utterance of an outsider on the inside gives the rest of us a profound hint as to the pressures which were brought to bear on the Court last fall and, in conjunction with other currents in our society, stimulates plausible inferences as to which directions they came from and what might have transpired in the aftermath of a "wrong" decision. But that's another article for another day.

It's a shame that the froth foaming from the lips of the nut-liberal contingent tends to get into their eyes and blind them to the obvious, to wit, that Justice Thomas's devotion to doctrine of Natural Law may render him a natural ally in coming years in causes very dear to both liberal and conservative reformers. Natural law theory provides a platform from which to knock down many hateful legal edifices, such as: the War on Drugs; confiscatory environmental law; and government intrusion into consensual adult behavior. Justice Thomas is young and, given the state of modern medical science, may be on the court another forty years. Let's give the man time to find his voice.

And it may take time. As alluded to above, tremendous pressure can be brought to bear on Supreme Court justices. In theory, their persons are as inviolate as those of the Tribunes of Rome. In practice, Justice Thomas has no incentive for heroics. It's likely that he weighs in the scale of the self-made man's clear-eyed pragmatism the price which heroes often pay. Anyway, we don't need heroes on the Supreme Court, we need five justices who consistently acknowledge the God-given rights of man. It's likely that at heart natural law advocate Justice Thomas is one of the five; one hopes that he will emerge as a leading voice for the American way as he settles in and accumulates enough personal influence to do the right thing while surviving the ensuing storm. Let's give him some time to muster his strength, because doing the right thing in the Imperial Federal system of today's national security state  is not a pastime for the weak or faint-hearted.

In the short term, perhaps Justice Thomas could deflect much of the irrational criticism directed at him if he would just grow an afro 'do and make the Black Power salute when reading his decisions. A ludicrous suggestion? Of course, but no more ludicrous than the fact that liberal reformers do not see that this is a man in an unique position who should be cultivated, rather than condemned. It's just his style they hate: they don't perceive the real Justice Clarence Thomas yet.

Jack Woehr of Fairmount Colorado tends to be liberal in his estimation of public figures who are conservative in their self-esteem.

Other related articles: (open in a new window)

  • Dissin' 'Uncle' Clarence by Gregory J. Hand (July 2, 2001)
    Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is still getting no respect, especially when it comes from the black community and the Hawaii chapter of the ACLU, writes Gregory J. Hand

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