Writing for The Hill, Mark Paoletta, who worked in the administration of George H.W. Bush, recently complained that the recently-opened National Museum of African American History and Culture, which opened last month, gave short shrift to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas because he’s a conservative. “This is a shocking slight that the museum must redress,” he wrote.
With all due respect to Paoletta, he ought to understand just why Thomas is rejected by most — and we’re talking upwards of 90 percent — of black America and that giving him a more prominent role in the museum would likely cause protests in its own right.
According to David Brock, in that day a right-wing journalist who said he helped propagandize to get Thomas on the court, the conservative movement that increasingly ran the Republican Party wanted to get a “black Bork,” a reference to the law professor Robert Bork who was rejected by the Senate for, essentially, being a judicial activist, there after the retirement of Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American on the court. Pardon me for being a bit cynical, but I think the conservatives were hoping that the black community would embrace Thomas for being “one of them” while maintaining conservative bona fides.
That had no chance of happening because the conservative movement that Thomas espouses from the bench today has always directly opposed the African-American struggle for progress. Trouble is, the movement doesn’t even relate to people who don’t agree with it, so it’s in no position to tell anyone who blacks should honor as their heroes. In other words, they don’t want or intend to be dictated to.
And that refusal to consider other points of view is what’s causing the racial division we see in this country even now.
Basically, Thomas is on the court because, and only because, he’s a conservative; his color and heritage are of no import in this case. But the second person to get to such a level will never have the impact of the first anyway, so I don’t understand the cheerleading.