Insidious consequences, indeed

A famous man once said, “While it does not, for constitutional purposes, matter whether University’s racial discrimination is benign, I note that racial engineering does in fact have insidious consequences.”

Insidious consequences, indeed. That man was Clarence Thomas, and one of the more insidious consequences of “racial engineering” is that this mediocre judicial hack now sits on the Supreme Court of the United States until he dies, lazing about mutely while voting consistently to send America back to its formative days in the late 1700s when white men of means held public office and enacted laws for the benefit of their electors (ie. white men of means).

The Clarence Thomas trope is well-known by now – growing up dirt-poor in Pin Point, Georgia; attending a seminary as one of only a few blacks in the class; getting into Yale via affirmative action which Thomas supposedly loathed; taking an assignment with Senator John Danforth which led to a position in the Reagan administration; and finally an appointment by President George H. W. Bush to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Of course this final pinnacle didn’t come easy for poor old Clarence who has made a career out of publicizing his ill-begotten life of getting the shit end of the stick, even when he’s snagging the brass ring out of reach of virtually all of humanity. After the death of Thurgood Marshall, the first black to be elevated to the Supreme Court, Bush was faced with a dilemma: how to fill the seat vacated by Marshall – a seat that had become known as the “Black Seat” on SCOTUS – while packing the court with another conservative-leaning judge. I’m sure the Bush staffers ran amok looking for a conservative black juror who possessed the haut qualifications and resume to justify a seat on the most important court in the world – and came up stone-cold empty.

At a different period in history, the administration might have simply stepped outside the confines of race and compiled a list of worthy candidates regardless of background; but we’re talking about filling the “Black Seat.” So after an exhaustive search that presumably involved an decremental lowering of standards, the Bush staff landed finally upon Clarence Thomas, a man who “had never tried a case or argued an appeal in any federal court and had never produced any scholarly work when he made the D.C. appeals court,” according to Jeffrey Toobin. As I recall at the time, Thomas’s nomination drew a flurry of condemnation and a lot of groans about tokenism, which surely advanced Clarence’s perception that this SCOTUS gig was just another shit-end-of-the-stick deal. Since then, the record shows that Thomas is a lock-step butt-boy follower of radical originalist Antonin Scalia; his votes act as a force-multiplier for Scalia’s antediluvian hallucinations. (See graphic)

OK, so a third-stringer like Clarence Thomas makes it to the big leagues – what’s the big deal? Happens all the time in corporate America, local and national politics, certainly in the music industry. To me the difference is that Clarence Thomas is that unique breed of ingrate who gets to the top through a maze of special treatment, and once there decides not to abide the situation quietly but rather shreds the maps and burns the bridges that led him to his lofty destination – all in the name of keeping some other poor soul from getting the shit end of the stick that millionaire Clarence was forced to accept.

Consider this: Thomas received a surprise job offer to join the Reagan Administration as assistant secretary for civil rights in the Department of Education. According to Thomas’s own biography, he said he felt he had been “singled out solely because I was black, which I found degrading.” Nevertheless, Thomas took the job and, a year later, he received a promotion to lead the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. If the offer was so degrading, why accept it? Why stick around and take a degrading job? The answer must be that the allure of getting the shit end of the stick is powerfully strong in Clarence’s case. Surely there must be a name for this type of destructive behavior. Fecal Stick Acceptance Syndrome perhaps.

Thomas was one of five Justices who struck down a key provision of the Voting Rights Act the other day which will probably have a negative effect on people who look like Clarence and grew up like Clarence. But thanks to Justice Thomas these poor souls will never have to accept the shit end of the stick of getting an unfair advantage that Clarence had to endure.

Sidebar: Clarence Thomas was among four Justices who dissented the ruling today that the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional (which was plain to see from the day it was enacted in the 1990s). For the record, Clarence Thomas married Kathy Grace Ambush in 1971. They had one child, Jamal Adeen. In 1981 they separated and in 1984 divorced. In 1987, Thomas married Virginia Lamp, a lobbyist and aide to Republican Congressman Dick Armey. I’m OK with the concept of divorce, but anyone who gets divorced has no right to warble on about defending marriage.

Memo to Clarence – concentrate on grabbing the new shitty-ended stick that will catapult you to the next big thing outside of SCOTUS, and stop fucking up peoples’ lives, you hypocrite.

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