Tags: Justice | Thomas | Memoir

Clarence Thomas: An Odyssey of Grit and Greatness

Tuesday, 02 Oct 2007 03:15 PM

By Phil Brennan

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Review of “My Grandfather’s Son, A Memoir” by Justice Clarence Thomas, Harper Collins, $26.95 289 Pages.

Clarence Thomas seemed doomed to a life of continuing deprivation: He was a descendant of a West African slave, a child of divorced parents, and was abandoned by his father. He was raised in grinding poverty, once in a shanty devoid of electricity and running water; and he lived in the deep South when bigotry and racism were still the order of the day.

Thanks to the grandfather, Myers Anderson, with whom he was sent to live when he was 7, he not only overcame the disadvantages of his birth, he was given the motivation to rise above his roots and possessed an iron-willed determination to reach undreamed of heights. [Editor's Note: Justice Clarence Thomas' New Book - FREE Offer - Go Here Now.]

Thanks to his grandfather’s strictness and his grandfather’s uncompromising character, the child of poverty is today a United States Supreme Court justice.

On arrival at his grandfather's house, the man he would forever call Daddy told him and his brother, “The damn vacation is over.”

Clarence remembers that “He went on to explain that while our mother had allowed us to come and go as we pleased there would be some ‘manners and behavior’ and ‘rules and regulations’ from now on.”

“I am going to send you boys to school and teach you how to work so you can have a better chance than I did,” Thomas recalls him saying.

“He loomed over us like a dark behemoth, instilling fear and demanding absolute adherence to his edicts, however arbitrary they might appear to be.” Thomas wrote.

Recalling that his mother once said of her father, who Thomas described as the “brooding presence of my childhood” that “He could make me cry just looking at me, ” Justice Thomas wrote that “as I grew older, made my own way in the world, and raised a son, I came to appreciate what I had not understood as a child: I had been raised by the greatest man I have ever known.”

The illiterate but still successful businessman Myers Anderson taught Thomas self-discipline and how to cope with and overcome any obstacles he would face. The lessons helped him make his way from his lowly status as a black child in the South through prep school, Holy Cross college and Yale Law school – which he chose over Harvard law – to the searing ordeal he was forced to endure as he was subjected to an unremitting campaign of slander and deceit.

Most recall the charges leveled against him by Anita Hill, a former subordinate but that was only the culmination of the Left’s attempts to prevent his Senate confirmation as a Supreme Court Justice, a job he didn’t want.

The assault began with a story that Thomas had an outstanding IRS tax lien, which was almost immediately shown to be false. That was followed by a report that this son of the segregated South from Georgia kept a Confederate flag on his desk. That turned out to be his native state Georgia’s state flag that had the stars and bars on it.

Next came a charge that he was anti-Semitic because he had once praised Minister Louis Farrakhan for his “philosophy of self-help,” when THomas had actually harshly criticized Farrakhan later for his anti-Semitism.

”Soon afterward a number of friends, EEOC employees and former colleagues told me they had been approached by a parade of reporters asking the same question: ‘Do you have ant dirt on Thomas?’”

“They’re gunning for you” one friend told him.

At one point reporters went after his sister, trying to bribe her with "kind words and a few hundred dollars" to say that he had been a bad brother and that she had had an abortion, which "was both untrue and nobody’s business but hers."

That was only the beginning. “Far worse things were being whispered around Washington including slanderous rumors that I’d used cocaine and had sex with underage girls,” he recalls.

He explains that the main motive behind all these vicious attacks was the issue of abortion. Belief that he was opposed to abortion, was the reason for the ordeal he faced. “”Since most of them saw abortion rights as the single most important matter to come before the Supreme Court I had to be stopped, whatever the cost.”

That hadn’t happened before the confirmation hearings. The final thrust would come then, with the charges by Anita Hill, his former aide who became the Left’s canonized final weapon in the fight to stop his appointment to the High Court.

He writes, “Two FBI agents came to my house and asked ‘Do you know a woman named Anita Hill?’” When he said yes they asked, “Did you ever make sexual advances to her or discuss pornography with her?” Thomas denied that he had.

The charges, based on not a shred of evidence beyond the word of Miss Hill – the corroborating witnesses she cited had all denied her allegations – set off a media firestorm and occupied the confirmation hearings and the nation’s front pages and network news broadcasts until Clarence Thomas spoke and refuted the charges so well public opinion swung sharply in his direction. The Senate confirmed him by a vote of 52 to 48.

As his publishers wrote “My Grandfather’s Son, is the story of a determined man whose faith, courage and perseverance inspired him to rise up against all odds. Thomas’ story serves as a legacy to the family and friends who helped him to overcome adversity, and most importantly, it bears witness to the man who made it all possible – his grandfather.”

Editor's Note: Justice Clarence Thomas' New Book - FREE Offer - Go Here Now.

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