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All About Clarence Thomas

Clarence Thomas is at war with himself. He festers. No conventional political or legal doctrinal analysis will ever explain what drives the man. His logic is that of the insanely self-loathing.

Thomas doubts his own personhood. He is horribly damaged, having never forged a tolerable self (a self he could live in) from out of the Black nobodyness of Pin Point, Georgia – the Tobacco Road shack settlement of his youth, lower on the African American social scales than any urban slum. He is tortured – in constant, gut-churning recoil at the Pin Point in him.

Clarence Thomas is a study in arrested human development, what a 54-year-old Black man acts like in a world he feels unworthy to inhabit, blaming other victims of racism for the scourge of racism, itself. If they did not exist, he could be a whole man!

Thomas is mad, crazy. He cannot abide other Black people in the mass, and detests them in the political abstract. As the late Franz Fanon would instantly recognize, Thomas suffers from the most perverse racial paranoia. He imagines that other Black people see through to his worthless (in his own mind) core, and he hates them for it.

Thomas would have played well as the Adolph Caesar character in “A Soldier’s Story,” but powerful racists placed him where he could act out a real life vendetta that even they cannot fathom. How could they? White American racists do not see Black people as whole personalities. They are incapable of imagining the emotional inferno they have stoked these hundreds of years.

And Clarence is right: we do see him for who he is, and what he has become.

It is a waste of time to look for rational explanations for Thomas’ defiance of reason, evidence and the opinions of all his robed colleagues in rejecting a death row inmate’s appeal, last month. (See “Clarence Thomas and his Latino clone,” February 27.) The Dallas case revealed the most thoroughly documented, blatant example of racist jury selection as official policy that could be constructed outside of a Hollywood studio. Even Thomas’ Hard Right mentor Justice Antonin Scalia recoiled at the travesty. Not Thomas. His horrors are internal.

Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson knows something is amiss with Thomas. In a February 28 piece, Jackson wrote:

Clarence the Cruel remains unusual. Two days before President Bush said Saddam Hussein has brought Iraq ”nothing but war and misery and torture,” Justice Clarence Thomas again abandoned the entire Supreme Court to defend miserable prosecutions and torturous treatment of prisoners. Thomas has clearly declared his own private war, with no concern for collateral damage.

Jackson detailed Thomas’s record of countenancing – no, reveling in – the most gratuitous cruelties to inmates, including chaining to outside “hitching posts” without food or water, vicious “disciplinary” beatings, and execution of the mentally retarded. Somebody, Jackson seems to be saying, needs his head examined.

One of these years, before he dies, Thomas might explain to us why prisoners disgust him to the point of approving the very human rights violations we lecture China, Iraq, and other nations about. We have no explanation because Thomas has never conducted a major interview since being appointed to the court by the first President Bush….

If Clarence the Cruel truly had his way in his private war, there is no telling how much more misery and torture would go unseen and unheard in the courtrooms and the prison hallways of America.

The Washington Post’s Courtland Malloy got a long disturbing look at Thomas and the rest of the High Court two years ago, when the Justices held hearings before selecting George Bush as the new President of the United States. In a December 3 2000 article, Malloy scoped the psycho-problem that has metastasized since Thomas’ birth “dirt-poor to a teenage mother in a shanty near the marshes of Pin Point.”

Indeed, the lesson Thomas drew seems to go like this: If oppression can turn you into a Supreme Court justice like me, then we need more oppression.

How else do you explain his decisions so far? He has voted to cut off debate in a death penalty case, even when newly revealed evidence might have proven the defendant innocent. He has cast the deciding vote to make it harder for blacks to prove they were victims of job discrimination. He has even voted against expanding voting rights for blacks and, in one case, disputed the history of using the 1965 Voting Rights Act to help elect more blacks in the South.

In last week’s case about the use of roadblocks by police, which Thomas’s side lost in a 6 to 3 vote, he wrote a rare separate dissent in which he seemed to acknowledge that he knew that such roadblocks were wrong but that he was going to side with conservative Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Scalia anyway.

Sort of thumbing his nose at black America.

Precisely. Clarence Thomas is no assimilated “happens to be Black” man, any more than Pin Point is a suburban subdivision. He is African American all the way down to his peculiarly Black sickness. African Americans are the audience he can’t shake, the ones that say things behind his back and make fun of his mannerisms and speech, even when he fools the white people. Blacks stare at him, upsetting his composure. Damn them! They know who I am!

Thomas heard (or thought he heard) that Blacks were saying he was just a dark sidekick for Antonin Scalia, that he didn’t ask questions because he lacked confidence in his own judicial bearing and insight, that he was not an independent Black Man. He would show them (us, himself).

And so Clarence, Lord High Executioner of Blacks, in the year 2003 made his solitary mark in glorious dissent, proving to Black people that he will risk looking like a raving fool if that’s what it takes to let us know that he rejects all things Black, in every form and remembrance. Free at last, free at last…!

It would never occur to Thomas that, in the end, his Black political enemies and victims have more empathy for him in his sickness than his white racist “friends” could ever claim. They don’t even know him.

THE BLACK COMMENTATOR is one of CounterPunch’s favorite websites. We encourage all of you to bookmark the site and become regular visitors. The editors can be reached at: publisher@blackcommentator.com

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