Ginny Thomas and the Phone Call
Here's the message Virginia Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. left on the work voice mail of Anita Hill after nearly 20 years:
Good morning, Anita Hill; it's Ginni Thomas. 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. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. OK have a good day.
The gall of this woman. She would love an apology and full explanation. I'm sure she would! That would be appropriate if Ms. Hill lied, but she hadn't. She did not merely testify, she passed a polygraph test. And she was not alone in her accusations about Thomas' sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior towards female colleagues. A "full explanation" sounds like Mrs. Thomas wants a plausible back story to convince herself of something.
Here's a pretty full explanation: Anita Hill let her reputation be dragged around, submitted herself to derogatory comments about her sanity and personal life, and did it with a calm honesty that did not admit of victimhood but made Clarence Thomas seem a little ridiculous and creepy, because it was true. He behaved in ways that were ridiculous and creepy to other women.
And I really think the line "give it some thought and certainly pray about this" is just fly-paper grade tacky. Oh, please. She's had a lot of time to think it over. But to say "pray about this" is just an affront because this deluded woman is basically saying "get right with God about this." As if Virginia Thomas and God were talking about this and that, and God said, "You know, I never got an apology out of Anita Hill either. Why don't you go and have a little 'woman-to-woman' on that?" (And then Clarence Thomas muttered "Woman-to-woman? All right.....")
Anyway, there's been speculation about what brought all this on, whether it was just lingering resentment, a case of drunk-dialing, a distraction from the ethical implications of her Tea Party work and his meeting with the Koch brothers in relation to the Citizens United decision, or what. All I can say is,
I still believe Anita Hill.
And Angela Wright.
And Lillian McEwan.
I can remember at the time of the confirmation hearings, I was almost irritated that the sexual harassment "angle" was the story. His credentials, I thought then, were the story. He hadn't tried cases at a federal level, he was new as a judge, rumor had it he might have "Borkian" tendencies. Also, I didn't think the Senate Committee handled the line of questioning very well at all--at times badgering Ms. Hill. I thought the SNL skit of the time captured the "Boy's Club" attitudes on display pretty well but I'll be damned if anyone ever uploaded it to Youtube. As others have said, the one thing this does is introduce this story to a new generation of people to be somewhat grossed-out by. Pubic hairs on a Coke can! Long Dong Silver!
But that was then, this is now, a generation and a few presidents away.
I don't really think the decision to reach out and touch someone the way Ginny Thomas did was appropriate no matter what her intentions were, and certainly not with the words she used. You can't set things right with someone by talking down to them.