In the portion of his book that addresses my role in the Senate hearings into his nomination, Justice Thomas offers a litany of unsubstantiated representations and outright smears that Republican senators made about me when I testified before the Judiciary Committee — that I was a “combative left-winger” who was “touchy” and prone to overreacting to “slights.” A number of independent authors have shown those attacks to be baseless. What’s more, their reports draw on the experiences of others who were familiar with Mr. Thomas’s behavior, and who came forward after the hearings. It’s no longer my word against his.Many people were involved in bringing Hill forward and bolstering her testimony, but it was in a situation where there was a powerful political motivation to destroy him. It was hardly the usual he-said-she-said situation. There was a huge crowd of promoters behind both of them.
In a particularly nasty blow, Justice Thomas attacked my religious conviction, telling “60 Minutes” this weekend, “She was not the demure, religious, conservative person that they portrayed.” Perhaps he conveniently forgot that he wrote a letter of recommendation for me to work at the law school at Oral Roberts University, in Tulsa. I remained at that evangelical Christian university for three years, until the law school was sold to Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Va., another Christian college. Along with other faculty members, I was asked to consider a position there, but I decided to remain near my family in Oklahoma.I don't think Thomas's quote connotes that she lacks religious belief. Take the word "religious" in context, between the adjectives "demure" and "conservative." I think he's using the word "religious" to connote a certain type of demeanor -- perhaps someone who forgives, turns the other cheek, and judges not. (Under my interpretation, you can criticize him for stereotyping religious people.)
Regrettably, since 1991, I have repeatedly seen this kind of character attack on women and men who complain of harassment and discrimination in the workplace. In efforts to assail their accusers’ credibility, detractors routinely diminish people’s professional contributions. Often the accused is a supervisor, in a position to describe the complaining employee’s work as “mediocre” or the employee as incompetent. Those accused of inappropriate behavior also often portray the individuals who complain as bizarre caricatures of themselves — oversensitive, even fanatical, and often immoral — even though they enjoy good and productive working relationships with their colleagues.True and important. If only the politics could be set aside. If only Hill had also addressed what happened to our perceptions about the seriousness of sexual harassment during the Clinton era, when the politics cut the other way.
I'll update this post when I've read through the relevant part of the memoir. When I picked up the book yesterday, I intended to go right to the part about Anita Hill, but I let myself read the first page -- "My father had broken the only promise he ever made to us" -- and got caught up in the chronological narrative.
ADDED: Captain Ed attacks Hill.
Old, unsubstantiated allegations only have credibility among those who use them for political purposes. Contrast Hill's reception to that of Paula Jones and her allegations of indecent exposure and sexual harrassment against Bill Clinton. Unlike Hill, Jones made her complaint contemporaneously, and pursued legal action through the channels that Hill espouses in this column after the incident got publicized. All of the same people who lined up behind Hill against Thomas didn't just ignore Jones, but called her every name in the book, including "trailer trash". Hill, who thinks that she helped lead an evolution in how harrassment gets treated, somehow neglects to mention Jones as part of that evolution.Oliver Willis attacks Thomas ("absolute filth... whose odor wafts from every case he gets his grubby little paws on").