Earlier this year, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, earned a bunch of ink in the nation’s broadsheets. She had recently left her job at a small college, she told fellow activists, because of her concern that the country was off track. She was becoming a full-time political activist. “We’ve got to get the Constitution back to a place where it means something,” she told blogger Ed Morrissey. “Or we’re headed for tyranny.”
This newfound yen for activism apparently has a personal side as well. A couple weeks back, Ginny Thomas called Anita Hill, the woman who had accused her husband almost 20 years ago of sexual harassment, to ask for an apology. “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband,” she said on the message, according to several reports. Hill, who is a professor at Brandeis University, turned the message over to campus security with a request that they contact the FBI. Ginny Thomas has since released a statement describing the message as an “olive branch.”
The assumption in Thomas’s voicemail seems to be that Hill was lying in sworn testimony nearly two decades ago, or at least exaggerating events, when she told Congress in detail about sexual harassment she said she had suffered at the hands of her boss, Clarence Thomas. Hill claimed that Thomas “spoke about acts that he had seen in pornographic films involving such matters as women having sex with animals and films showing group sex or rape scenes.” She said he spoke of his own sexual prowess and once joked that someone had put a pubic hair on his soda can.
In 2007, Washington Post writers Kevin Merida and Michael Fletcher penned a book on Thomas, called “Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas.” The book revealed that open discussions, and viewings, of pornography had been common at Yale Law School when Thomas attended, and that his former classmates remembered him as a connoisseur of both blue films and jokes. One Yale Classmate, Dan Johnson, said that Thomas had told him, “My favorite movie of all time is Deep Throat. I’ve seen that m—– f—– six times.” Another classmate, Lovida Coleman, who supported Thomas’s nomination to the court, said Thomas had “the greatest collection of dirty jokes I’ve ever heard in my life.”
At the time of his hearings, Thomas denied the charges categorically, saying that the charges had an ideological basis: “This is a circus. It is a national disgrace. It is a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks, who in any way deign to think for themselves. And it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, you will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate rather than hung from a tree.”
A few years back, Thomas wrote a memoir in which he attacked Hill on similar ideological grounds. “On Sunday morning, courtesy of Newsday,” he wrote, “I met for the first time an Anita Hill who bore little resemblance to the woman who had worked for me at EEOC and the Education Department. Somewhere along the line she had been transformed into a conservative, devoutly religious Reagan-administration employee. In fact she was a left-winger who’d never expressed any religious sentiments whatsoever during the time I’d known her, and the only reason why she’d held a job in the Reagan administration was because I’d given it to her.”
Hill has never wavered from her testimony. After Thomas’s book was published, Hill responded in a New York Times Op-Ed, saying, “I will not stand by silently and allow him, in his anger, to reinvent me.”
In 2007, Merida, the author of the Thomas book, was asked in an online Washington Post chat if he was able to divine the truth of what had happened between Thomas and Hill. Merida’s response will likely stand the test of time: “I think what happened between Thomas and Hill is ultimately unknowable. Only the two of them know for sure what transpired. What IS clear is that one of them lied, period. There was no wiggle room left in either of their stories.”
As for Ginny Thomas, her voice mail olive branch is unlikely to be the last time her efforts end up in the newspapers. Just today, Ginny Thomas’s organization, Liberty Central, announced that they will co-host a one-hour webcast Wednesday night called “The Taxman Cometh: Stopping the Obama Tax Hikes.” According to the press release, “Tony Perkins, President of Family Research Council Action and Ginni Thomas of Liberty Central will be joined by Rep. Tom Price, Bishop Harry Jackson, and others to discuss how the looming massive tax increases will impact American families and how voters can mobilize to stop them.” You can tune in at 8:30 pm ET by going to www.frcaction.org/taxman.