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Tag Archives: Anita Hill

Since We are Cleaning House – Uncle Tommie Clarence Needs to Go as Well

The confirmation hearings on Clarence Thomas’ ascension to the Supreme Court featured what was probably the first nationwide coverage of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Uncle Tommie got a walk.

With the number of folks now losing their jobs and positions for acts like those of Thomas…Perhaps the ultimate test of whether the current flurry of sexual harassment punishments is a “fad” or something we will take seriously going forward is whether Thomas receives the same treatment. Whether he is punished or not has some rather serious implications relative to the Supreme Court’s already badly battered credibility.

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Clarence Thomas must resign

Utah Republican Orrin Hatch called “bullcrap” on Ohio Democrat Sherrod Brown last week. The Senate Finance Committee lion tore into Brown for “spewing” that the Republican tax plan to transfer a trillion dollars to the rich was in reality a Republican tax plan to transfer a trillion dollars to the rich.

I got my first dose of Hatch during the wall-to-wall coverage of the confirmation of Clarence Thomas, George H.W. Bush’s Supreme Court nominee. Hatch was the Republicans’ designated questioner of Anita Hill. She was called to testify because she’d told the FBI that Thomas had sexually harassed her 10 years earlier, when he was her boss at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Department of Education.

Sitting behind her were her mother, Erma (“who is going to be celebrating her 80th birthday”); her father, Albert; her sisters, Elreathea, Jo Ann, Coleen and Joyce; and her brother, Ray. No way she was going to lie to the committee, or to us, in front of them.

Hill testified that Thomas had repeatedly asked her out, and that she repeatedly refused. So he demeaned her. He told her someone had once “put a pubic hair” on his Coke can. He said porn star Long Dong Silver had nothing on him in the endowment department.

Hatch called her charges “contrived” and “sick.” He claimed she’d stolen them. The pubic hair, she’d taken from page 70 of “The Exorcist.” Long Dong Silver, she’d lifted from a Kansas sexual harassment case.

Hill agreed to a polygraph test, and passed. Thomas refused. He called the hearings a “high-tech lynching for uppity blacks.”

It was painful to watch Hatch slime Hill. Women who’d also been sexually harassed found in the hearings no reason to be less fearful of telling their stories. Nor, later, could they take comfort in how Bill Clinton’s accusers were reviled. Or Bill O’Reilly’s. Or Roger Ailes’s.

But something changed. The tipping point may have been Donald Trump bragging to Billy Bush about assaulting women. Sixteen of his victims had the courage to say he’d harassed or groped them.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Trump’s escape from accountability for that predation contributed to the decisions by Harvey Weinstein’s victims to talk on the record to Jodi Kantor and her New York Times colleagues and to Ronan Farrow at the New Yorker. Before long, more than 80 women attested to Weinstein’s assaults as far back as 1990.

Then nine women gave the Washington Post detailed accounts of Alabama Republican senatorial candidate Roy Moore’s history of pedophilia and abuse. They knew the blowback would be brutal. They did it anyway.

Still, Moore won’t quit. Why would he? Kay Ivey, Alabama’s Republican governor, says she’ll vote for him even though she believes his accusers. Better to elect a pedophile than a Democrat who’d vote against a Supreme Court nominee who’d overturn Roe v Wade.

Now Senator Al Franken is in the crosshairs. The Minnesota Democrat offered an apology to Leann Tweeden for “completely inappropriate” behavior in 2006, which she accepted, and he asked for an ethics investigation of the incident. Calls for his resignation illustrate the fallacy of false equivalence; they’re the witch-hunt Trump claimed had victimized him.

Hill was a thoroughly credible witness. Thomas has no stronger case for his innocence than do Trump, Moore or Weinstein. Pressed to defend Trump’s sexual improprieties, his press secretary said the American people “spoke very loud and clear when they elected this president.” No to put too fine a point on it, but she’s spewing bullcrap. Elections don’t decide culpability.

In the wake of the Hill/Thomas hearings, a record-breaking 117 women made it onto the federal ticket in the 1992 election. The 24 women elected to the House that year was the largest number in any single House election, and the three elected to the Senate tripled the number of women senators.

That sharp uptick didn’t persist. If you think that today’s 80% male Congress isn’t good enough, check out Project 100, which is working to elect 100 progressive women to Congress by 2020, the 100th anniversary of women’s right to vote. Full disclosure: my daughter is a co-founder. As her dad, and as the onetime speechwriter for the first presidential candidate to pick a woman as his running mate, you can imagine how proud of her I am. And how hopeful she and her young teammates make me feel.

 

 

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Go After Al Franken? How About Clarence Thomas?

Al Franken is a far better Senator than he ever was a comedian. The guy’s humor was always a bit on the juvenile side, and really just not that funny.

Do I believe that Franken could have done what he is accused of? Yeah, I think the majority of men are capable of being over-aggressive short of violence. I think the majority of men have made an unwanted advance. The difference between the majority and guys like Moore and the Chumph is simply this – they suffer that guilt thing or shame and change their behavior accordingly. Doing something stupid is bad…But it takes a bad person to repeat that behavior over and over.

Now, I am suspicious about the accusation against Franken for two reasons. The accusers association with Hannity on Faux News, and that unlike many of the guys accused of doing this – there aren’t multiple accusers coming out of the woodwork demonstrating a pattern of bad behavior.

Some differences between Franken and the current prdophile/sexial molesters –

Al Franken has been accused by one woman. Roy Moore has been accused by 8,  Donald Trump by 16 (not counting the underage women). The others are serial molesters.

There is the appearance of a political association with a morally bankrupt and racist outfit, which itself has seen almost it’s entire to leadership resign or be fired for sexual predation. Hard to believe the accuser, an attractive woman – never got hit on walking down the hallways of Fox News, when it seems every other woman working in their studios did.

As far as accusations go so far, Mr Franken is accused of molesting an adult woman. Roy Moore molested children, a quite different and serious crime. Trump has been accused by a growing legion of women, similar to Bill Cosby – and was sued by at least one underage woman.

Should Al go down? Well that is a question for his fellow Senators, the Republican portion of which have political reasons to make that happen. Franken’s destruction of Jefferson Davis Sessions has been a thing of beauty.

And if we pursue the path of taking down a Franken, what happens?

Well..There is the case of Clarence Thomas, which needs to be re-examined.

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As We Rethink Old Harassers, Let’s Talk About Clarence Thomas

The old men of the Senate lectured Anita Hill from the dais, scowling as she recounted in humiliating detail how Thomas taunted her with graphic tales of pubic hair and Coke cans.

Long suppressed talk about the sexual predation of men, in Hollywood, politics, business, the news industry, professional sports and life in general has swept across the country, exposing decades of dirty laundry and putting an entire nation of men on notice and on edge.

“The discussion” in which the nation is engaged almost daily at this point, has exposed the rank hypocrisy of a right-wing “Christianity” that would sooner see a child molester stalking the well of the United States Senate than free its captive base to support a Democrat, and which still stands foursquare behind braggadocious predator-in-chief Donald Trump.

It has put on display the Republican Party’s radical lack of moral conviction as its leaders rush to condemn the gross, decade-old antics of now Sen. Al Franken, who has at least apologized for his past misbehavior, while they smirk from behind the cameras at Fox News where they are surrounded by anchor women in the required uniform of tight sweaters, mini-skirts, and four-inch heels. Among the Republicans ripping Franken for kissing a woman without her consent and snapping a juvenile “groping” picture in 2006: the great hypocrite Trump himself, of the “I just kiss beautiful women and grab ’em by the pussy” un-humble brag of 2005.

The national moment of self-reflection on the culture that produces such entitled men has compelled the left to indulge in its favorite ritual: curling into the fetal position as it self-flagellates over the eternal sins of the Clintons. It’s as if they’ve forgotten that the former president who left office 17 years ago indeed paid a price, including years of forensic investigation culminating in impeachment for his illicit affair with a 24-year-old White House intern.

Well if we are getting about the business of re-examining the past indecency of powerful men, we’d be remiss not to include the moment in 1991 when a woman was not believed and her alleged abuser was elevated to the highest court in the land, where he remains 26 years later.

The late Andrew Breitbart, who took down Democratic congressman Anthony Weiner by having his minions troll Weiner’s Twitter account in search of his vices, and having found them, waved the lurid visual evidence before the world, once said he was inspired to become a conservative because of Clarence Thomas, whom he viewed as a persecuted man. Breitbart cloaked his savage politics in alleged concern for a beleaguered black man, saying of Thomas’ critics: “[t]hese white, privileged men knew that by taking this conservative, religious man and asking him if he rented pornography, the mere exposure of that would hurt… I was so pissed off. You guys are just trying to ruin him. You don’t have anything.”

Not anything, that is, except the word of Anita Hill, an African-American woman who risked national humiliation and ruin to publicly tell her story of repeated sexual harassment at the hands of Thomas, her onetime boss at the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

It’s hard to see Thomas, who wrote off his Yale degree as worthless because of affirmative action yet retreated to the language of “lynching” to disparage his accuser and her supporters, as much of a victim. Particularly when most Americans, and most African Americans, took his side against Anita Hill and against prominent civil rights and women’s rights organizations who were unanimous in their opposition to his elevation to the seat once occupied by the great Thurgood Marshall. Democrats including then-Sen. Joe Biden, took Thomas’ side against Hill, too—even refusing to allow witnesses who could corroborate her account to testify at Thomas’ Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

Instead, we were treated to a bipartisan spectacle of the old men of the United States Senate lecturing Professor Hill from the dais; scowling at her as she was forced to recount in mortifying detail how Thomas pushed her to date him and taunted her with disgusting jokes and insinuations at work that included graphic tales of pubic hair and Coke cans.

Again, most Americans chose not to believe Hill, who was castigated as a liar, a temptress, and a race-traitor trying to keep a black man off the Supreme Court. Never mind that the American Bar Association had delivered a mixed verdict on whether he was even qualified for a lifetime appointment of such grandeur. I can personally recall knock-down, drag out arguments with black colleagues and relatives who were defending Thomas, and demanding a West Indian gypsy cab driver in the Bronx pull over and let me out of his car after he called Hill a whore.

Having been placed on the court anyway, Thomas became the silent justice; voting in lockstep with the late Antonin Scalia and authoring precious little worth remembering for posterity save for his serial attacks on labor rights, women’s rights and the voting rights of fellow African Americans. Needless to say, many black men and women who sided with Thomas against Anita Hill soon came to bitterly regret it.

When Weiner’s political career went up in flames, he was in the midst of exposing Justice Thomas with regular rants on the House floor for his ostentatious habit of consorting with major Republican donors who might have business before his court, often with Scalia at his side.

Thomas’ chummy ways with the rich and well-heeled, and his wife’s clear conflicts of interest as a paid crusader against Obamacare despite it coming imminently before the court, presaged the age of corruption we find ourselves in today, with Donald Trump and his extended family of kakistocrats blundering their way around Washington and the world’s capitols in search of grubby gain. In many ways, the banality with which Americans dismissed Thomas’ alleged sexual misconduct, his disparagement of his victim, and his ethical flexibility were a portent of the Trump era to come.

And like Trump, and unlike Bill Clinton, Thomas sits in power still; with the authority to make life and death decisions over the fate of those facing capital punishment, those needing health care, and most ironically, over the rights and liberties of women.

As happened with Trump, Thomas’ elevation despite the shocking allegations against him ignited women to action. In 1992, a record number of women ran for federal office, increasing the number of female United States senators from just two to six, prompting the media to declare it “the year of the woman.” Among those newly elected senators was Barbara Boxer, who as a House member had helped lead a march with six of her female colleagues to the Senate to demand that Hill’s allegations against Thomas be taken seriously and that his confirmation be delayed.

Ironically, the wave of elected women, including the first black woman senator, Carole Mosely Braun, in 1992 helped carry Bill Clinton, himself accused of sexual indiscretions and misconduct as governor of Arkansas, into the White House. When Bill Bennett and the self-righteous, self-appointed “moral majority” in the conservative movement announced the “death of outrage” after Clinton failed to be taken down by his affair with Monica Lewinsky, they perhaps forgot that outrage died first with the shaming and dismissal of Anita Hill.

Or maybe they didn’t forget because they never really cared. Who, after all, was Anita Hill to them but some black woman trying to keep a “good, conservative Christian” off the high court. It’s an echo of today’s advent of rank hypocrisy, when Roy Moore’s accusers are accused of trying to keep a “good, conservative Christian” out of the Senate. Or when the right wing furrows its collective brow at the predatory men of Hollywood—discarded by Democrats without a second thought—while they vow to die on the desiccated moral hill of Donald J. Trump.

Indeed, we need to continue to talk about predacious men. That needs to include the sexual raptors armed with immense power right now—beginning with the president of the United States and the high court’s scandalized associate justice, Clarence Thomas.

 

 

 

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HBO Special Reviews Clarence Thomas vs Anita Hill

The biggest failure by the Democrat Party since passing the Civil Rights Act and earning the black vote was the confirmation of Clarence Thomas. In a bow to conservative racism, President George HW Bush nominated Thomas – and lost any possible confidence and ability to attract black votes for the next 40 years. Of course Republicans are whimpering at the retelling of events, because they know they stole one from the Yellowback Donkeys.

Anita Hill in 2013

 

HBO’s ‘Confirmation’ sparks conservative backlash even before its debut

HBO’s dramatic retelling of Anita Hill’s allegations of sexual harassment against Justice Clarence Thomas at his Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1991 doesn’t debut until Saturday, butconservative critics have already come out in full force to discredit it.

Although Kerry Washington, the film’s star and executive producer, has claimed that the goal of the film is not to declare “winners and losers” in their politically and racially charged clash, supporters of Thomas have criticized the television movie as an attempt to rewrite history to serve a liberal agenda.

“Anita Hill looks good, Clarence Thomas looks bad, and the rest of us look like bumbling idiots,” former Sen. Alan Simpson recently told The Hollywood Reporter.

In a separate interview, former Sen. Jack Danforth told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that “The script that they sent me is just totally wrong. It’s a hybrid of fact and absolute make-believe.”

The band of cowards included Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy

The most vociferous opponent of the film has been Mark Paoletta, an attorney and veteran of the George H. W. Bush White House who worked to shepherd Thomas’ nomination through the U.S. Senate. He considers the justice a “good friend.” Paoletta has been making the media rounds decrying “Confirmation”  — although he has yet to see the finished film, he obtained what he believes to be a “late draft” of the screenplay — and he has even launched a website dedicated to debunking its assertions: confirmationbiased.com.

“What I’m interested in is bringing out the facts that I don’t think are represented in this movie and then people can make their own decisions and they can look at my background and draw their own conclusions,” Paoletta told MSNBC on Friday. “This movie in my view leaves out a lot of the troubling testimony that showed that Anita Hill’s story didn’t add up.”

Among the issues Paoletta has raised is what he considers the film’s lack of emphasis on alleged inconsistencies in Hill’s testimony, as well as the fact that, despite her accusations of sexual harassment, she stayed in contact with Thomas and continued to work with him a second place of employment (The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission)l He also claims it misrepresents how and when she shared her story with the Senate and FBI investigators, and what he calls its “ludicrous” portrayal of a second Thomas accuser, Angela Wright, who did not testify before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991, for reasons which remain in dispute

The segment does concede that when Thomas’ hearings concluded, the public overwhelmingly believed his version of the events by a margin of 47 to 24 percent among registered voters, according to a NBC News/Wall St. Journal poll. (Some polls placed the margin wider at 60 percent to 20 percent.) But it also points out that just a year later, sympathies in that same survey swung back Hill’s way by a 44 to 34 percent margin.

“A lot of people initially were put off by her coming forward. It was hard to listen to what she said. It was gross,” Mark Crispin Miller, a professor at Johns Hopkins University, told The Baltimore Sun in 1994. “But that initial feeling of revulsion has passed. People now have thought about it and realized women don’t have to take this anymore.”

Other facts may have also swayed Americans to believe her: One of Hill’s most prominent antagonists, author David Brock, later retracted his attacks on her, and others have since come forward tocorroborate elements of Hill’s account. In addition, Hill reportedly passed a polygraph test amid the hearings and a hagiographical documentary on Hill was released in 2014. Thomas’ very conservative bent and relative silence on the court has also infuriated many progressives….Read the Full Article Here

 

 

 

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The Importance of Anita Hill

Anita Hill has a new book out – and it’s getting some pretty good reviews. Patricia J. Williams is a Law Professor at Columbia University, and what she has to say about the importance of Anita Hill travails at the Clarence Thomas hearings really clarifies a lot of what Hill meant to other professional women…

Anita Hill

The Legacy of Anita Hill, Then and Now

Sad fact: there are few women of my generation who don’t have what is known as our “Anita story.” Mine occurred in 1980. I was five years out of law school and had decided to shift my career from practice to teaching. I was walking down a long hallway at the Association of American Law Schools meat market for new hires. There were two men behind me who were joking about the excellent shape of my legs and the unusually well-defined musculature of my lower quadrants. (Did I mention that it was a very, very long hallway?) At the end of that eternal passage was my appointed interview room. I escaped into it, only to be followed by the two. They, as it turned out, were doing the hiring.

Life was like that sometimes, I thought. And so I went through all the proper motions of expressing how much my fine ideas could contribute to their faculty, pretending that nothing had happened.

I didn’t stop pretending nothing had happened until 1991, when Anita Hill testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the unwanted office approaches of her boss, then-chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Clarence Thomas. I remember how still and dignified she was at the center of that howling hurricane of mockery, meanness and machismo. It was like some psychedelic cross between The Crucible and The Wizard of Oz, with its swirling fantasies of witchcraft, conspiracy theories and mad satyric orgies. I remember everyone from Orrin Hatch to Rush Limbaugh dismissing anything that “might have happened” as “bedroom politics,” even though Hill’s allegations centered on misbehavior in the boardroom, not the bedroom, and even though those allegations implicated precisely Thomas’s public ethics as the chief enforcement officer of sexual harassment laws. “He said, she said” entered the national vocabulary. So did “They just don’t get it.”

Anita Hill graduated from Yale Law School in 1980. The percentage of women in law schools was 38 percent—in contrast to the approximately
50 percent it is today. Back in those times there were so few women among the legal professoriate that many law schools didn’t even have women’s bathrooms. And as for women of color—there were only five or six of us teaching in the entire United States.

If the percentages of women in all professions improved over the next decade or so, the ability to speak up and speak out was often constrained by fear of losing status, ruining one’s career. It was the shockingly abysmal treatment of Anita Hill by the United States Senate that changed all that. Women were mobilized in a way unseen since the time of the suffragettes. EMILY’s List took off, as well as hundreds of networks for women’s political empowerment. Twenty years later, if some men’s behavior has not changed as much as one might have hoped, the collective women’s response has undergone seismic change. It’s not “nothing” anymore.

Patricia J. Williams

Anita Hill remains an icon to whom subsequent generations are rightfully indebted. At the same time, she has not remained trapped by her own symbolism or frozen in time. It is sometimes forgotten that she is a respected scholar of contract jurisprudence, commercial law and education policy. She is a prolific author, publishing numerous law review articles, essays, editorials and books. Today, Hill is a professor of social policy, law and women’s studies at Brandeis University. Much of her most recent research has been on the housing market, and her most recent book, published this month, is Reimagining Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home.

It is ironic that the full substance of Hill’s remarkable intellectual presence remains so overshadowed by those fleeting, if powerful, moments of her Senate testimony. If the larger accomplishments of her life aren’t quite as iconic as that confrontation with Clarence Thomas, they nonetheless merit attention by feminists and scholars alike. To begin with, Hill is a remarkably elegant and accessible writer. For those who wish to apprehend the gravitas of her intelligence and dignity, Reimagining Equality would be a good place to start…(more)

 
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Posted by on October 8, 2011 in The Post-Racial Life

 

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That Clarence Thomas Can of Worms…

Virginia Thomas just opened up a 50 Gallon drum of worms for her husband…

Lillian McEwen, a former Senate Judiciary Committee lawyer who said she dated Clarence Thomas from 1979 through the mid-1980s, told The Washington Post in an interview that Hill’s long-ago description of Thomas’s behavior resonated with her.

“The Clarence I know was certainly capable not only of doing the things that Anita Hill said he did, but it would be totally consistent with the way he lived his personal life then,” said McEwen, who is writing her own memoir but has never before publicly discussed her relationship with Clarence Thomas.

McEwen also told the Post she was not surprised that Virginia Thomas would leave Hill a message, even after all these years.

“In his autobiography, Clarence described himself as a person incapable of doing what Anita Hill said he did,” McEwen said. “He is married to a woman who is loyal to him and religious in a way he would like to be. This combination of religiosity and loyalty and belief that he is really the kind of person who he describes in his book would just about compel her to do something like that.”

The message Virginia Thomas left for Hill again revealed the emotional toll that the Hill hearings took on the soon-to-be justice’s wife. In the past, she has made unsolicited phone calls to voice support for people whose reputations have been shaken by what she sees as false accusations.

In one way – I feel for the brother. Despise his politics. Despise his role on the supreme Court, and feel that he is the most destructive force against black America since the KKK.

But this is his personal life being dragged out for all to see.

 
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Posted by on October 21, 2010 in Black Conservatives, Stupid Republican Tricks

 

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Thomas v Hill… Round 2

In another one of those conservatism will make you stark raving crazy moments – Virginia Thomas, wife of Justice Clarence Thomas has called Anita Hill to demand an apology! WTF! Why the hey, after all this time would Virginia Hill want to stir up this one all over again? I mean – not only does it have to be painful to Hill – it has to be painful to Clarence Thomas, Virginia’s husband. You have to know the media is going to drag the whole thing up again, and re-debate the whole sexual harassment issue.

This is a no-win for Clarence Thomas – which raises the question as to whether Ginny Thomas has been drinking that Tea Bagger Kool-Aid so long as to get Christine O’Donnell/Sno’ Ho’ stupid. Or is she out to deliberately hurt her husband?

Hill doubly has nothing to say, especially after conservative “scions” took revenge on her in later years by getting her fired from her previous job at University of Oklahoma, and tried to ruin her both financially and professionally. Not to mention the book published by David Brock, though the conservative faux-publishing outlets which was a libelous hatchet job on her character.

 

Clarence and Virginia Thomas - Anita Hill

Anita Hill: No apology coming for Thomas testimony

Anita Hill, whose accusations of sexual harassment almost derailed Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ high court nomination, has no plans to apologize for the charges she made nearly two decades ago.

The response from Hill, now a law professor at Brandeis University in Waltham, Massachusetts, comes following a voice-mail message left for her by Thomas’ wife, Virginia, over the weekend, requesting an apology.

Charles Radin, the Brandeis director of news and communications, said Hill received the voice mail and turned it over to the campus Department of Public Safety, which then turned it over to the FBI.

Special Agent Jason Pack, an FBI spokesman in Washington, declined to comment late Tuesday.

“I certainly thought the call was inappropriate,” Hill said in a statement to CNN issued by Brandeis. “I have no intention of apologizing because I testified truthfully about my experience and I stand by that testimony.”

In a statement to CNN, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas said: “I did place a call to Ms. Hill at her office extending an olive branch to her after all these years, in hopes that we could ultimately get passed what happened so long ago. That offer still stands, I would be very happy to meet and talk with her if she would be willing to do the same. Certainly no offense was ever intended.”

According to a source at Brandeis, who spoke on condition of not being identified, the message left over the weekend said:

“Good morning, Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas. 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 some time and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. OK, have a good day.”

Virginia Thomas is a conservative activist who founded the organization Liberty Central.

Hill declined comment to CNN affiliate WCVB outside her Waltham home on Wednesday, saying, “Please, let me go teach my class.”

 

 
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Posted by on October 20, 2010 in Black Conservatives, Black History

 

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