For the past two decades, Dr. Anita Hill has led a quiet life as a writer and law professor, far removed from her brief notoriety when she testified before Congress at the confirmation of Judge Clarence Thomas.
Clarence Thomas is also leading a quiet life, likely to set a record for reclusiveness on the bench and earning the nickname, ‘the silent justice’. His wife Ginni, on the other hand, is making lots of noise lately, lobbying for right wing causes with money from nameless sources, and giving rise to questions about judicial ethics and partiality.
Mrs. Thomas made what she ‘portrayed as a peacemaking gesture’, but how would you take something like this?
In a voice mail message left at 7:31 a.m. on Oct. 9, a Saturday, Virginia Thomas asked her husband’s former aide-turned-adversary to make amends. Ms. Hill played the recording, from her voice mail at Brandeis University, for The New York Times.
“Good morning Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas,” it said. “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.”
Anita Hill turned the message over to campus security.
It’s very weird stuff, and troubling that a Supreme Court judges’ wife, hopped up on Tea and anonymous donor money, would perhaps be looking to settle old scores with a woman whose conduct since the Congressional hearings shows nothing but a desire to pursue a quiet career and a private life.
From the Kmareka archives, 2007, comes a post that’s worth re-reading–
The Real Anita Hill
It was David Brock who wrote the hatchet job on Professor Anita Hill, the former federal employee who testified against Clarence Thomas in his Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Today, Brock is the President of Media Matters for America, a website that runs transcripts of shock jocks such as Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly, thereby causing them much embarrassment. Brock is a little too free-press for the Fox crowd now, but twenty years ago, he was a rising star of the Washington conservative establishment.
Brock was the one who labeled Professor Hill, ‘a little bit nutty, and a little bit slutty.’ He published a best-selling ‘expose’ that portrayed her as a hysterical accuser.
Not long after his book, “The Real Anita Hill” was published, he learned things about Justice Thomas that led him to believe Professor Hill’s testimony. While reading Hill’s account of the episode, ‘Speaking Truth to Power’ he became overwhelmed with remorse at what he had written about her.
‘As I read the passages where Hill referenced my allegations, I was again struck hard by the realization that I no longer believed in my own book, and for the first time I began to contemplate the personal consequences for Anita Hill of having been the subject of a well-publicized, best-selling book that attacked her, wrongly, as a liar. I made this woman’s life a living hell.’
David Brock, Blinded by the Right, p.295
Brock goes on to relate that he sent Professor Hill a letter of apology c/o feminist author Naomi Wolf. Professor Hill called him back, but got his answering machine, and he never got up the courage to meet her in person.
Meanwhile he agonized over the fact that he had given a woman he had treated as a political enemy a piece of ammunition she could use to take him down and expose the dishonesty of his attacks on her reputation. He waited in fear for her to make his letter public.
‘As far as I know, Hill has kept [the letter] private to this day.’
Blinded by the Right, p.327
So that is the real Anita Hill.
SECOND THOUGHTS: It seems possible that Ginni Thomas left her 7:30am voicemail when she was agitated for some reason, but there’s another possibility that occurs to me. Prof. Hill is a lawyer, and she knows that an apology would be equivalent to admitting that she lied under oath to Congress. Did Ms.Thomas think that she was so powerful in Washington that intimidation of some kind was an option she had in reseverve? Did she plan to parade Prof. Hill’s apology at the next Tea Party, or just have Prof. Hill show up in person wearing a scarlet letter?
APPEARANCE OF WRONGDOING: That liberal rag, The Christian Science Monitor has some background on the issues that come up when a judge’s spouse is engaged in activities that might be affected by the judge’s rulings. But I don’t expect Justice Thomas to recuse himself over qualms of conscience.
TEARS OF REPENTENCE: I wonder if Ginni Thomas had some fantasy that Anita Hill would pray with her, then agree to appear at her side at the next Tea Party rally, wearing sackcloth and apologizing. Thomas said in an interview that she looked forward to forgiving Hill. She reminds me of Serena Joy in the Handmaid’s Tale.
NO SYMPATHY: New American Media, which covers minority issues, is cutting Clarence Thomas no slack.