Clarence Thomas, Asshole of the Day for February 12, 2014
Justice Clarence Thomas is responsible for the most famous ‘silence streak’ in Supreme Court history, going almost seven years without asking a question during oral arguments. Perhaps he should have kept that streak going, and extended it into all areas of his life. Because, when this man speaks, stupid, stupid things come out of his mouth.
Case in point: During a discussion on race and race consciousness, Thomas told a bunch of college students that race relations in America were better when he was a kid in the 1960s.
My sadness is that we are probably today more race- and difference-conscious than I was in the 1960s when I went to school. To my knowledge, I was the first black kid in Savannah, Georgia, to go to a white school. Rarely did the issue of race come up.
A little history refresher: America was at the height of the Civil Rights Movement when Thomas was a kid. African-Americans who dared protest injustice faced physical abuse and even death. Segregation was the norm across the South (and the North), and the few laws on the books that promoted racial and economic justice weren’t widely enforced. Either Clarence Thomas was living in a fairy tale, one that the rest of the country’s African Americans didn’t get to experience, or he’s delusional. We vote for delusional.
The country’s current racial situation leaves much to be desired and, thanks to social media, we’re exposed to bigots we probably wouldn’t encounter in our day to day lives. But what we’re seeing today doesn’t even come close to comparing to 1960s Georgia, when men had to kowtow to boys, and when children could be lynched for perceived ‘threats’ against whites.
Thomas didn’t help matters much when he went into detail, implying that racism - and sexism - were mere slights:
Now, name a day it doesn’t come up. Differences in race, differences in sex, somebody doesn’t look at you right, somebody says something. Everybody is sensitive. If I had been as sensitive as that in the 1960s, I’d still be in Savannah. Every person in this room has endured a slight. Every person. Somebody has said something that has hurt their feelings or did something to them — left them out.
Yeah…everyone has had something said to them that has wounded their pride or hurt their feelings. Institutional racism (and gender bias) that denies a person basic their rights is not a slight. Because he doesn’t know the difference - and because he continually chooses to whitewash history - Clarence Thomas is Asshole of the Day.
It is Justice Thomas’ first time as Asshole of the Day. Though if his arguments about how things were better under Jim Crow, even for African Americans, seems familiar, that’s because Phil Robertson said the same thing in December.
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