March 3, 2007

A few crisp words from Justice Thomas.

Businessweek has a big interview with Justice Clarence Thomas about his time at college. Here he talks about what he wishes he'd done differently:
There were things that I would enjoy, that I would take in, things that I rejected....

Simple things, like different classes. Maybe I would have taken classes like Russian history or more science, maybe, more math courses. I would have taken more history courses, more philosophy courses. Maybe I would have gone to more events, some plays. I rejected all that. I would have been more open to some of the offerings that were different from the life I had become accustomed to. If you're intellectually alive—which you are at that time—you want to explore.
Here he talks about affirmative action:
Why do you think some people are so eager to cast you as a beneficiary of affirmative action?

That was the creation of the politicians, the people with a lot of mouth and nothing to say and your industry. They had a story and everything had to fit into their story. It discounts other people's achievements. Ask Ted how many all-nighters he pulled. It discounts those. It's so discouraging to see the fraudulent renditions of very complicated and different lives of people who were struggling in a new world for them. Everything becomes affirmative action. There wasn't some grand plan. I just showed up.
He says that his college, Holy Cross, "never once required us to be anything other than ourselves and good people," and in answer to the question, "Doesn't every college want that?" he says:
Oh no. I think there are different points of views that are not acceptable. I go around this country and the poor kids who want to dissent from a prevailing point of view have no room. There's no room for them.

Because of political correctness?

Oh yeah. Come on, that's obvious. You don't even have to ask. That's obvious. Otherwise, there are people who have set notions of what blacks should think. But I rejected that years ago. I rejected that back when I was considered radical.

Is it harder to be an African American heading to college these days?

I don't know. I'm not going to dissect these schools now. I'm just glad I went when I went, before everybody had all the answers and theories about blacks. I'm sure it was hard to make your own way but maybe it worked better that way. Maybe it made us better, stronger people.
He has this to say about why he is controversial:
People have a model of what they think a black person should think. A white person is free to think whatever they want to think. But a black person has to think a certain way. Holy Cross has never ever done that. We did it to each other but we were just kids.
Interesting interview. I like his crisp form of speech.

37 comments:

MikeinSC said...

The man has been basically insulted since he was nominated for the SCOTUS. He is more than a deserving justice and a very clear thinker.
-=Mike

Alan said...
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Alan said...
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Alan said...

I like his crisp form of speech.

Is that another way of saying he's articulate?

StephenB said...

Funny you mentioned his crisp speech at the end of the post. I was think exactly the same thing while reading it. I especially liked when he said "That was the creation of the politicians, the people with a lot of mouth and nothing to say and your industry."

Craig Landon said...

Alan-

No, it means he doesn't dick around.

Bruce Hayden said...

One of the reasons that I like some of his opinions is just that - how crisp they are. Who else can you say that about on the Supreme Court?

Ann Althouse said...

"Is that another way of saying he's articulate?"

Actually, it's another way of saying most judges are boring gasbags.

But, LOL.

Ann Althouse said...

Too bad you can't write Supreme Court opinions in that style. I'd love it.

I was really struck by the line, right at the beginning, which I didn't put in the post: "Your industry has suggested that we were all recruited. That's a lie. Really, it's a lie. I don't mean a mistake. It's a lie."

I'd love to read a blog like that.

You know he got a lot of money for writing a memoir. If he writes like this -- form and substance -- it will be amazing. He certainly has the material. If he's willing to use it -- really use it -- and lay it on the line like this, it will be huge.

Sissy Willis said...

I greatly admire Justice Thomas but do believe he is totally wrong that white students -- albeit in a different way -- are permitted to wander off the P.C. reservation.

Richard Fagin said...

I thought President Bush was being more than a little disingenuous and hyperbolic when he called Clarence Thomas the best possible choice to replace thurgood Marshall. Now I'm not so sure. He's been a thorn in the side of the entire "civil righs" establishment, which clearly deserves one. Justice Thomas' work on the Court has been described as "workmanlike", which may have been intended as an insult by the writer, but is sorely what is needed as an antidote to the gaseous stuff originating elsewere from the Court.

The NAACP got it right during the controversy over his confirmation. One official was qouted as saying, "If we have to have a conservative, I'd ratehr have one that's been called a n*****."

So we have an African-American justice, and he's rock-solid conservative, an "original-intenter" and he gives the NAACP, Urban League et al. fits. Yes, President Bush, he really was the best possible choice for the job.

hdhouse said...

"your industry?"

interesting usage. perhaps in being "crisp", sometimes it wouldn't hurt for him to tell us what he really means with a phrase like that...

hdhouse said...

and mikeinsc...just for fun, if a white judge came forth with Thomas's credentials and "style", how would that have played?

I'm not saying he was confirmed or given latitude because he is black...I'm just curious if the nomination process were behind a curtain how well he would have done.

Ann Althouse said...

Too crisp for you, hdhouse? Go back to your pabulum. He's talking to a reporter and he says "your industry." You really can't put 2 + 2 together?

Patrick said...

Oh no! "Your industry" might become the new "those people". Reporters are becoming the next persecuted people group.

JERRY: So you won't believe what happened with Whatley today. It got back to him that I made this little reporter joke and he got all offended. Those people can be so touchy.
KRAMER: Those people, listen to yourself.
JERRY: What?
KRAMER: You think that reporters are so different from me and you? They came to this country just like everybody else, in search of a dream.
JERRY: Kramer, he's just a reporter.
KRAMER: Yeah, and you're an anti-reportite.
JERRY: I am not an anti-reportite!
KRAMER: You're a rabid anti-reportite! Oh, it starts with a few jokes and some slurs. "Hey, reporty!" Next thing you know you're saying they should have their own schools.
JERRY: They do have their own schools!
KRAMER: Yeah!....

ShadyCharacter said...

Just in case you still don't follow hdhouse (a real possibility judging from some other threads):

"your industry" = journalism

Tim said...

"You really can't put 2 + 2 together?"

Indeed.

Regardless, Thomas's interview is a breath of fresh air.

Bill Harshaw said...

Someone recently said something to the effect of: when you're thirty you look back on your college days and bemoan the work you didn't do and the courses you missed; when you're sixty you look back and bemoan the parties you missed and the friends you didn't make. Sounds like Judge Thomas is getting old like the rest of us.

Freder Frederson said...

Amazing, The man was raised working class in Savannah Georgia by his hardworking Grandfather and mother and apparently worked very hard himself. I bet not a day went by at at his Grandfather's store when he, his mother, and his Grandfather weren't subjected to indignities small and large because of their race. I bet his Grandfather was regularly addressed as "boy" and young Clarence never heard a white person, young or old, address his Grandfather as "Sir". He never had an opportunity to go to an integrated public school and must have been bright enough to realize what a huge disadvantage he was at in the segregated society he grew up in.

Yet forty years later, he apparently denies that any of this happened to him. That he had perfect equality of opportunity throughout his life and anyone who even implies otherwise is simply lying. What a state of denial he must live in.

Alan said...

"Actually, it's another way of saying most judges are boring gasbags."

<BG>

Der Hahn said...

Freder, to put it 'crisply',

Clarence Thomas didn't just get older, he Grew Up.

Cedarford said...

Freder, so basically you are saying he is a race traitor in denial.

And not true to his family's accumulated historical slights & grievances that morally should have steered his thinking into "the correct way for blacks to think."

Perfect exposition into why the "civil rights movement" became the victim of frozen thinking that it is still the 60'. Why Lefties that wish to lead blacks more properly than they can lead themselves demonize non-PC blacks and are even angrier when they show up on campus than the black radicals are.

Freder Frederson said...

Clarence Thomas didn't just get older, he Grew Up.

Growing up doesn't include denying the reality of your, or your nation's, past. Actually, I would say it is a sign of extreme immaturity: "My own life story does not comport with my world view so I refuse to acknowledge the validity of it." This is a man who must have experienced first hand exactly why affirmative action is necessary, and not in the abstract, but in real day to day experience, yet he refuses to admit that it even happened to him.

I could understand his point of view if he said, sure I was discriminated against and it was almost impossible for a black child born in 1948 in Savannah, Georgia to get a break. But the way to remedy all that horrible discrimination is not affirmative action, there is a better way. But that is apparently not what he is saying.

Freder Frederson said...

And not true to his family's accumulated historical slights & grievances that morally should have steered his thinking into "the correct way for blacks to think."

I am not saying there is any "correct" way way for blacks to think, I am criticizing his apparent lack of introspection about his own life experience.

Coming from you, that is rich, since you obviously think that the vast majority of blacks (Clarence Thomas and Thomas Sowell excepted) think incorrectly.

John Kindley said...

It's unfortunate that we have to make life-determining decisions, like what to major in, when we're young and have little experience of life. I majored in Philosophy, because I was passionate about it at the time, but in retrospect realize I would have learned everything worthwhile about Philosophy that I learned as a Philosophy major even if I hadn't majored in it, simply because my natural interest in it led me to study it on my own, outside of coursework.

Now many years of life experience has developed in me an interest in economics, particularly the economics of taxation, but I'm all too aware that formal study of the subject at this point in my life would be economically disadvantageous and for all practical purposes useless.

I learned far more about law in law school from researching and writing my law review article than I did from the three years of coursework I was required to take, and what I produced was of actual potential benefit to lawyers. Too bad the credentialing process in America in all fields isn't based more on such productive thesis-writing (and productive apprenticeships) and less on just jumpin' through hoops and puttin' in time. If it was, I could prove myself and gain the requisite knowledge by researching and writing an article or articles having to do with the economics of taxation, and others could do the same in areas that life has interested them in, and ways would be opened for acting on their interests.

Lower the artificial career entry barriers that are for the most part just a matter of the already-credentialed protecting their turf. For my part, I wouldn't care less if a competent paralegal were allowed to hang out a shingle and practice law. Let him put his paralegal degree on his office wall and let potential clients decide whether to hire him. Without law school debt, I bet his fees would be significantly lower than the lawyer's down the street.

ShadyCharacter said...

Freder: the perfect caricature of a clueless racist leftist...

A black person entertains thoughts that you think unfitting for one of that station and you diagnose a mental disorder. "What a state of denial he must live in."

But note, I'm refraining from questioning your patriotism!

hdhouse said...

Ann: your kind of people I gather.

Out here, "your kind" is a slur, occupational or otherwise. Generally it means east coast liberal jew. So if Clarence wants to get crisp he should say journalist or jew. then we know.

as an attorney, you should, above all, appreciate precision rather than defending the lack thereof.

PatCA said...

"This is a man who must have experienced first hand exactly why affirmative action is necessary, and not in the abstract, but in real day to day experience, yet he refuses to admit that it even happened to him."

Do you have ESP? How can you know what he experienced first hand or that it is different from what he says? He was not recruited. He was talking about his college years, not Race in America, and his experience at Holy Cross was entirely consistent with how Catholic education worked then.

He is really disputing the popular notion of victimology: that the civil rights era was the beginning of social justice for blacks, when it really was its culmination, propelled by, among many others, people like Father Brooks and by Thomas himself.

Very good interview, and fearless--he certainly did not suck up to the MSM reporter, did he?

Freder Frederson said...

Do you have ESP? How can you know what he experienced first hand or that it is different from what he says?

Well, let's see what was happening at the flagship state university (University of Georgia) while young Clarence was growing up. It admitted its first black students in 1961 (after eleven years of court battles), sparking riots on campus and a shutdown of the university. They were suspended for their own safety and reinstated under a court order. This is in a state that is 30% black (the school is still only 10% black). UGA didn't have its first black professor until 1968 and did not field its first black athlete until 1970.

Simon said...

Freder Frederson said...
"Coming from you, that is rich, since you obviously think that the vast majority of blacks (Clarence Thomas and Thomas Sowell excepted) think incorrectly."

Incorrectly because they're wrong, not incorrectly because they're black. There's the difference.

Mortimer Brezny said...

Actually, I sincerely doubt most black people think Thomas Sowell and Clarence Thomas are wrong. It is that they serve the wrong interests. If you were to make a Thomas Sowell argument to bunch of black people, they'd probably agree and support the argument with their own experiences, etc. It is when you mention that the argument comes from a black conservative that they will find fault with it.

Freder Frederson said...

If you were to make a Thomas Sowell argument to bunch of black people, they'd probably agree and support the argument with their own experiences, etc.

And I'm a racist? I disagree with Sowell and Thomas because I disagree with their arguments, not because they are black men making the argument. I find it astounding that Thomas can come from the background he does and make the arguments he does (I know nothing about Sowell's background), but I would disagree with his judicial philosophy just as vehemently if he were a WASP legacy admission to Yale, I would just find it less baffling.

ShadyCharacter said...

Freder: "And I'm a racist? I disagree with Sowell and Thomas because I disagree with their arguments, not because they are black men making the argument."

No, you're racist because you cannot conceive of black people holding opinions that are off the liberal reservation that you and your fellow liberal racists have chosen for them. You are racist because you hold black people to a different, lower, standard.

You are simply a racist. But you probably think of it as a benevolent racism.

Mortimer Brezny said...

And I'm a racist? I disagree with Sowell and Thomas because I disagree with their arguments, not because they are black men making the argument.

You surely are illiterate. My entire point was that many blacks object to arguments made by black conservatives because they think black conservatives are serving the wrong interests. Not because the arguments are bad. Not because black conservatives are black. But because most blacks don't think the interests of white conservatives are the interests of black people, regardless of what black conservatives say.

PatCA said...

Once more, Freder, "He was talking about his college years, not Race in America, and his experience at Holy Cross was entirely consistent with how Catholic education worked then."

Your post about something at U of G is irrelevant to what he described in his interview.

MikeinSC said...

and mikeinsc...just for fun, if a white judge came forth with Thomas's credentials and "style", how would that have played?

We've had justices in the past with significantly less than stellar resumes.

Yet forty years later, he apparently denies that any of this happened to him. That he had perfect equality of opportunity throughout his life and anyone who even implies otherwise is simply lying. What a state of denial he must live in.

Because, Freder, you know about Clarence Thomas' life far better than Clarence Thomas does.
-=Mike

Freeman Hunt said...

Out here, "your kind" is a slur, occupational or otherwise. Generally it means east coast liberal jew. So if Clarence wants to get crisp he should say journalist or jew. then we know.

So you think that when Thomas said "your industry" he might have meant the "Jew industry?"

I don't think anyone else would read "your industry" in that way.