Who had the worst week in Washington last week?
According to Sunday’s Washington Post that sad honor went to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Here’s the story:
Justice Thomas has not asked a question of lawyers during oral arguments before the Court for seven years. He has said he prefers to listen to the limited time the lawyers have to make their best argument.
But last week during an oral argument, Justice Thomas appeared to make a joke to his fellow members of the Supreme Court. His words were not completely audible to the people in the court. But apparently the conservative’s joke was prompted by a question about the adequacy of counsel for a defendant. When it was noted that the defendant’s counsel went to Yale, Thomas’s alma mater, Justice Thomas apparently said something to this effect: If the defendant’s lawyer was a Yale Law graduate maybe he didn’t have adequate counsel. Ha! Ha!
Over the years, I watched as bright, black conservatives like Colin Powell, Condi Rice, William Coleman, Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams were dismissed as “Sellouts” “Uncle Toms” and “House Negroes.”
That led to stories in The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. It filled up endless space on the Internet.
The media attention to such a small joke, and one that was not even completely heard, was a reminder that in the nearly 22 years since Justice Thomas won a seat on the court the left wing hatred towards him is alive. It’s hard to draw any other conclusion but that this avalanche of attention to this molehill of an incident is anything but an attempt to mock Justice Thomas. Reading between the lines, the media seems to doubt his intellect, his skills as a judge and absolutely dismissive to his claim of wanting to give attention to the lawyers who are making their cases before the court.
Recently, a film critic for the Boston Globe, writing a review of the new Quentin Tarantino movie “Django Unchained” couldn’t even resist taking a shot at Thomas, likening him to Samuel L. Jackson’s character in the film.
“He’s conjuring the house Negro, yes, but playing him as though he were Clarence Thomas or Alan Keyes or Herman Cain or Michael Steele, men whom some black people find embarrassing.”
After the joke incident Jeffrey Toobin, a legal analyst on CNN, drew broad conclusions about Thomas’s psyche in a blog for the New Yorker website:
“Thomas’s supporters always protest when the Justice is described as angry and bitter and still resentful of his treatment during his confirmation hearings, almost twenty-two years ago. But Thomas’s true feelings about his villains in that struggle—including Yale, Democrats, and the news media—always come out, as they did on Monday.”
This kind of thin, malicious attacks on Thomas was evident during his controversial confirmation hearing. Liberal advocacy groups called me repeatedly looking for anything that could stop his confirmation. Did he beat his first wife? Did take money from the apartheid government in South Africa? One Democratic Senate staffer just asked: “Have you got anything on your tapes we can use to stop Thomas?”
That experience stuck with me throughout my journalistic career.
Over the years, I watched as bright, black conservatives like Colin Powell, Condi Rice, William Coleman, Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams were dismissed as “Sellouts” “Uncle Toms” and “House Negroes.” Last month, the football player Robert Griffin III was put-down by a commentator on ESPN as a “cornball brother,” because he has a white girl friend and there is talk that he is a Republican.
Earlier this month, Colin Powell, during an interview on Meet the Press, said he sees as a “deep vein of intolerance” within the GOP. That prompted some Republicans to criticize Powell for forgetting that Republicans promoted him to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and later to become Secretary of State.
The idea that black people – liberal or conservative – are not allowed to speak out as independent thinkers is apparently a truth for a lot of liberals and conservatives.
Blacks are supposed to stay in neatly defined political boxes.
However, as the never-ending assault on Justice Thomas’s integrity shows, the deepest vein of intolerance is to be found on the Left for minority conservatives.
When will the mainstream media call attention to this type of ‘intolerance’ that is absolutely racist thinking at its worst?
The fact is that despite the caricatures of black political thought there is a wide variety of opinion among blacks just as there is among whites, Hispanics and Asians. Yes, it is true that more than 90 percent of black Americans voted for President Obama. It is also true that close to 60 percent of white voted against President Obama. But that is not reflective of the variety of political views of black or white Americans.
For example recently Gallup found more black Americans consider themselves conservatives – 29 percent – than liberal -24 percent. And another surprise is that most black Americans, 43 percent, self-identify as political moderates, according to Gallup.
But in reading the mainstream press or watching political television shows the truth of a lively spectrum of political thinking among black people is forbidden.
I personally know this to be true. I have had a lot of the same vitriol directed at me for not towing the liberal party line on issues ranging from school choice to the importance of black fathers taking responsibility for their children. When I ask why civil rights leaders fail to take on gangster rappers who glamorize violence I was labeled as ‘Not-Authentically-Black.’
In fact, at a white majority media organization, NPR, I became a pariah for speaking not holding predictable black, left wing views. As one NPR executive put it to me – just before I was fired from NPR - the old guard of white liberals at NPR did not appreciate a black man with conservative social views and some conservative friends.
Isn’t about time for someone in the mainstream media called out the haters and the race hustlers?
Isn’t it about time some of them were candidates for “The Worst Week in Washington?”
Juan Williams is a Fox News political analyst. He is the author of several books including "Enough: The Phony Leaders, Dead-End Movements, and Culture of Failure That Are Undermining Black America--and What We Can Do About It" and "Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate."