Created Equal: Clarence Thomas in His Own Words. That’s the title of a new documentary by producer Michael Pack about this Supreme Court Justice. I highly recommend it. Thomas and his wife, Virginia, were interviewed for more than 30 hours over many months. They’re shown looking right into the camera with Thomas relating his life story and the two of them discussing their trials, tribulations and victories. This is accompanied by vivid film and pictures from Thomas’s poverty-stricken childhood.
When his mother, a house maid, was no longer able to support him on her own, he and his younger brother were sent to live with their grandparents. Myers Anderson, his grandfather, was a strict, old school, moral, hard working man who imprinted his values on the two boys and expected them to behave accordingly, which they did. Thomas’s life-long determination and grit was born of this.
He attended a seminary where he was the only black and thought about becoming a priest. His path changed after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. when he heard some bigoted fellow students celebrate King’s death. That led to his leftist radicalization, joining the Black Power movement and anti-Vietnam War rallies. After his years at Holy Cross College and Yale Law School, followed by a position as Assistant Attorney General in Missouri, his beliefs and views were reshaped. By the time he came to Washington as a legislative aide to his mentor, Sen. Jack Danforth, Thomas had emerged as a libertarian, Reagan-conservative, coming to the realization that the social engineering and welfare-state ideology of the 60s and 70s was an obstacle to black progress, not a benefit.
In the film, Thomas explains his judicial philosophy, based on the Founders’ belief in God-given natural rights, limited government and individual liberty which formed the foundation of his court decisions based on the original intent of the Constitution and legislation. He believes, as did MLK, that the Constitution and the law should be colorblind.
The most stirring part of the film, for me, was the reprehensible treatment of Thomas during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991. I was both moved and angered by scenes from those proceedings, especially Anita Hill’s farfetched claims about being sexually harassed, aggressively orchestrated by committee Democrats and exploited by the liberal media in a desperate hail-Mary pass to defeat the confirmation of a conservative (of any race but especially a black man who would replace Thurgood Marshall, a very liberal black justice).
This was an eerie preview of the same kind of disgraceful tactics Democrats and media liberals would stoop to in their equally desperate attempt to block Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court confirmation in 2019. And Kavanaugh’s accuser, Christine Ford, was no more believable this time than Anita Hill was 28 years earlier.
You’ll see Thomas’s stalwart and emotional response to Hill’s accusations, especially his impassioned description of the hearing as a “high-tech lynching for an uppity black.” (By a two-to-one margin, the public told pollsters they believed Thomas over Hill.)
Predictably, liberal critics savaged this film. At the movie review site “Rotten Tomatoes,” its Tomatometer score, the consensus rating from the dominantly leftist professional critics, was a lowly 36%, although the just-plain-folks rating there from movie audiences was 94%! The critics disdained the favorable way Thomas is presented, objected to the absence of interviews with Thomas adversaries and the failure of the film makers to grill him with hostile questions. Critic Scott Marks in San Diego, for example, described the film as “an unduly sympathetic portrait.” This is the same crowd who raved over two recent Ruth Bader Ginsberg flicks: the documentary, RBG, and the biopic, On the Basis of Sex, both of which were fawning hagiographies. This liberal double-standard was also no surprise. I have no personal animus toward Justice Ginsberg, I just disagree with her judicial philosophy and her votes in key cases.
The public impression of Clarence Thomas has been unfairly and condescendingly molded by his political and ideological detractors, and compounded in the liberal media echo-chamber. This film will give you a long overdue, wholly different, deeper and honest sense of the man.
You’d think in today’s era of political correctness, Thomas’s antagonists and critics (including that tribe of liberal film critics) might be condemned as “racists.” Oh, wait. No they won’t. As arbitrators of what constitutes PC, the left only wields that scornful term against conservatives. And, to them, black conservatives are as evil as white ones.
Longtime KOA radio talk host and columnist for the Denver Post and Rocky Mountain News Mike Rosen now writes for CompleteColorado.com.