Clarence Thomas Vs Anita Hill Showdown Essay
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Ask anyone which Senate Judiciary Confirmation hearing they recall off the top of their head and most would say that of Judge Clarence Thomas. Unlike the usual, mundane process of vetting a judge to the United States Supreme Court, this hearing in particular took an unexpected and dramatic turn. It made headlines and scored television ratings that surpassed even the most popular prime-time series and gave pre-empted daytime dramas a run for their money.
The nomination, in and of itself, was historic on so many levels. If confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Thomas would be the second African American to secure the confirmation of justice; the first being Justice Thurgood Marshall. However, it was not a simple matter of going through the motions in order to ensure Thomas was the perfect nominee. Rather, it was a hearing with its own agenda; a hearing that would soon make history for obvious reasons.
In a plot concocted by Liberals, Thomas was put on trial, so to speak, before his peers, colleagues, family, friends, and the world. He was pitted against the black community in a hearing that would bring to the surface the issues of sexual harassment, race, and gender. Enter Anita Hill; the Liberals number one weapon.
What seemed like an ordinary day of hearings, changed when allegations of sexual harassment made by Hill, surfaced against Thomas. It was a game-changer. Thomas would find himself suddenly defending his ethical and moral conscience and fighting a majority that simply did not want him as the next Supreme Court Justice. Anita Hill was a former colleague of Thomas’. She and Thomas worked together prior to his nomination for a number of years. Thomas was previously Chairman of the U. S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. During that time, Hill’s claim alleged that Thomas sexually harassed her on numerous occasions.
Thomas’ nomination would not be the norm. The fact he was African American did not bode well among those who viewed an appointment of this nature reserved solely for the white class. It was the perfect setup by the Liberals who enacted racial projects into the mix that would become the macro and micro-chasms of the hearings. These played a huge role throughout, from the insinuation that Thomas’ wife was white to Hill being a black woman that he allegedly sexually harassed to the inability of an African American being smart or successful enough to be considered for the highest court in the nation; let alone be appointed to it. Perhaps the most glaring indication of a set-up was Thomas’ implication that, “a respected black man accused a respected black woman of trying to destroy him by using racial stereotypes belittling to black men that have been traditionally employed by white racists” (Dowd, New York Times, October 13, 1991). If there ever was a twisting of macro and micro-level racial projects being unearthed, this was it.
Thomas worked tirelessly during the nomination hearings “to keep the issue of race at bay, not wanting to be seen as a quota candidate for the Supreme Court” (Dowd, New York Times, October 13, 1991). The allegations made by Hill against Thomas included all forms of sexual innuendo and disrespect of women that painted a picture of Thomas as being the stereotypical black man. He was questioned at length by some of his most respected colleagues during the hearings that no nominee before him would have dared been subjected to; especially had Thomas been a white man vying for the same position.
These confirmation hearings forced Americans to face the blatant “exposure and examination of its most basic fears and contradictions concerning class, race, sex and gender” (Patterson, New York Times, October 20, 1991). This was met with public opinion on both sides in support of and against Thomas. The public had mixed reviews on the hearings. In some cases, many felt Thomas was the proverbial underdog, while others sided with Hill. During the proceedings, Thomas supporters “were the most vocal and the most visible” (Yang & Duke, The Washington Post, October 12, 1991), shouting chants of Thomas’ name as he weaved his way into the chamber. Ironically, most of his supporters were women, of which, many were black and former colleagues of Thomas’ Equal Employment Opportunity Commission days. Some Thomas supporters called the proceedings "witch hunt," "lynching" and "complete sham” (Yang & Duke, The Washington Post, October 12, 1991).
It was noted that those who opposed Thomas were silent through much of the proceedings. As Hill made her way into the chamber, she was not met with the same level of support, but rather seen as the woman who was trying to block Thomas’ appointment. Perhaps this was in large part to Hill’s admission during testimony that she had actually followed Thomas to the E. E. O. C. “and kept up a cordial relationship with him after the alleged sexual misconduct occurred” (Dowd, New York Times, October 13, 1991). At best, this raised suspicion as to Hill’s credibility and some felt her testimony was fabricated. This gave credence to Thomas’ claims that the hearings were “a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves" (Dionne, Jr., The Washington Post, October 12, 1991).
The age old battle of wills between men and women has taken place since the beginning of time. Men have been typically seen as the dominant gender, who have an advantage over their opposite sex counterparts. With the rise of women staking their claim on equality, this has given way to a whole host of issues regarding gender that have presented themselves in the process. Because there is an underlying sexual tension between the opposite sexes, sexual harassment has become something that is considered immorally and unethically wrong. However, it depends in large part on how it is viewed. It can be murky and often a tale of he-said, she-said; his word over hers and vice versa. Men and women view it differently in nature and society deems it as something that is completely different. Then add in the tenet of racial tension and inequality to boot and it takes gender and intersectionality to a whole new level.
The Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill showdown was about so much more than accusations surrounding sexual harassment. It forced one to ponder the sheer evolution of the rise of females in the workforce, in prominent roles within society, and a demand for gender equality like never before. “In our heterogeneous society, the perception of what constitutes proper and effective male-female relations varies across gender, class, ethnicity and region” (Patterson, New York Times, October 12, 1991). There has always been this underlying premise that men and women cannot work together in non-romantic relationships.
In this case, the allegations Hill launched against Thomas purportedly took place ten years prior. Hill made no claim of such at that time, nor any evidence surfaced in the interim to indicate she suffered any emotional trauma or damage to her career as a result. This supports Thomas’ claims of an attempted lynching of his nomination by Liberals to overthrow him.
The hearings once again brought to the American public’s attention the issue of race relations. It is interesting to note that unlike any other time in our nation’s history has race relations been more civilized and progressive. The United States in comparison to other countries has acquired the reputation as “least racist white-majority society in the world” (Patterson, New York Times, October 12, 1991). Minorities are better protected than ever before and are being extended opportunities for growth and advancement.
While these hearings attempted to highlight what was still wrong in American society with regard to gender and race relations, what emerged instead was new knowledge that dispelled old stereotypes. Had the Thomas-Hill showdown not taken place, the American public may not have become privy to the fact that blacks are not the only sexually charged, drug-abusing, derelicts of society. Now the spotlight was being cast on non-African American criminals and drug addicts. Any previous misconceptions about African American men had come from the media and if Clarence Thomas’ story was to be taken seriously, this did not hold water in the grand scheme of things.
Perhaps the most telling of all to come out of the hearings, was how the public handled the information they were being given. Liberals attempted to interject age-old ideals about racism within the proceedings, only to fail miserably. As a result, what evolved instead was “the indifference of the white public to the racial aspect of the proceedings” (Patterson, New York Times, October 12, 1991). It just did not work. Instead these hearings gave rise to a whole new gamut of concerns; particularly that of white men in how they would relate with white women moving forward. Additionally, both black and white women would now have many different positions on the subject of racial and gender inequality. If there can be found an irony among it all, for the first time since the civil rights era, the Thomas-Hill showdown, gave African Americans perhaps the largest cultural development. Both Thomas and Hill were put through the proverbial ringer and discredited for different reasons. They were made an example of which supported years of inhumane and undeserved mistreatment of African Americans.
For everything these hearings did to create tensions and reopen old wounds, it also succeeded in showing just how far America has come in its attempts to bridge the gaps of racial and gender inequalities. It exposed liberal attempts to paint African Americans into a stereotypical corner of victimization and oppression.
Most importantly, the Clarence Thomas-Anita Hill hearings gave pause to think about the direction in which we are headed in terms of gender relations. With more women in the workplace than ever, this gives credence to the idea that women genuinely have something to contribute to society and should be taken seriously instead of being treated as the object of some male’s fantasy machinations.
The end of this tale would find Thomas being appointed as the next U. S. Supreme Court justice despite the failed attempts of the left to discredit and disavow his eligibility with false claims. There is no doubt as to the motivation behind this ruse. Thomas made no secret as to his conservative views, namely on abortion and equal rights for all. This was a constant thorn in the left’s side and provided enough ammunition to launch an extensive search into Thomas’ background where they found Hill. As for Anita Hill, she would disappear into the backdrop of society now that her job was done. Whether Thomas did the things Hill accused him of, we, very well may never know. The facts in the case tend to support Thomas’ claims that it was all concocted. However, Thomas and Hill know the truth and despite what that truth is had no eventual bearing on Thomas’ appointment. It has been said that good come from everything. If that is to be believed, the dichotomy of American society has come a long way in being united in gender and race relations. It is only through initiating the dialogs of the Thomas-Hill hearings, that society has given the issues of gender and race relations a much needed voice and one that has not been quiet since.
Dionne, Jr., E. J. “Grace, Grit and Gutter Fight; Never Has Country Seen a Hearing Like This.” The Washington Post 12 Oct. 1991: A1. Print.
Dowd, M. “THE THOMAS NOMINATION; Taboo Issues of Sex and Race Explode in Glare of Hearing.” The New York Times 13 Oct. 1991: Section 1; Part 1; Page 1; Column 3. Print.
Patterson, O. “Op-ed; Race, Gender and Liberal Fallacies.” The New York Times 20 Oct. 1991: Section 4; Page 15; Column 2. Print\
Yang, J. E., & Duke, L. “Outside the Hearing, It Was Cheers, Jeers; Thomas's Supporters Were Most Vocal, Visible.” The Washington Post 12 Oct. 1991: A9. Print.
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