Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Anita Hill's Op-Ed

Anita Hill has an op-ed in the New York Times this morning in which she repeats her allegations against Justice Clarence Thomas. Her arguments are not very convincing.
In the portion of his book that addresses my role in the Senate hearings into his nomination, Justice Thomas offers a litany of unsubstantiated representations and outright smears that Republican senators made about me when I testified before the Judiciary Committee — that I was a “combative left-winger” who was “touchy” and prone to overreacting to “slights.” A number of independent authors have shown those attacks to be baseless.
To the contrary, even the most fiercely pro-Hill book ("Strange Justice") basically agreed with these characterizations of Anita Hill. As Ted Olson points out:
Given this focus, it is not surprising that Strange Justice finds little that is new about Anita Hill. And what the authors do find, they quickly brush aside. For example, in a chapter called “Talking Wild,” they report on Miss Hill’s upbringing: “Propriety to the point of repression was a family trait.” “Sex was a taboo subject.” Miss Hill was “prickly and brittle,” was “petulant,” possessed “rigid mores,” was “uptight or even prissy,” “sent mixed signals, making misunderstandings likely,” and was “quick to take offense.”
Back to Anita Hill's op-ed:
Justice Thomas’s characterization of me is also hobbled by blatant inconsistencies. He claims, for instance, that I was a mediocre employee who had a job in the federal government only because he had “given it” to me. He ignores the reality: I was fully qualified to work in the government, having graduated from Yale Law School (his alma mater, which he calls one of the finest in the country), and passed the District of Columbia Bar exam, one of the toughest in the nation.
This is ludicrous: Graduating from law school and passing the bar exam do not entitle you to your pick of jobs in the U.S. government. Nor does it prevent you from being a "mediocre" employee. If Hill really wanted to dispute that charge, she would have said something like, "I always got good performance reviews at my law firm." She doesn't claim anything of the sort here.
In a particularly nasty blow, Justice Thomas attacked my religious conviction, telling “60 Minutes” this weekend, “She was not the demure, religious, conservative person that they portrayed.” Perhaps he conveniently forgot that he wrote a letter of recommendation for me to work at the law school at Oral Roberts University, in Tulsa. I remained at that evangelical Christian university for three years, until the law school was sold to Liberty University, in Lynchburg, Va., another Christian college. Along with other faculty members, I was asked to consider a position there, but I decided to remain near my family in Oklahoma.
Again, notice that Hill doesn't actually dispute anything that Thomas said. Thomas says that she was not demure, religious, or conservative. She does not claim to have been demure. She does not claim to have been conservative. And she doesn't even really claim to have been "religious" either -- all she says is that she went to teach at a Christian law school. Incidentally, given that this law school was unaccredited -- i.e., the very bottom of the heap -- the fact that Anita Hill couldn't find a job elsewhere lends strength to Thomas's characterization of her as mediocre.

The rest of the op-ed consists of Hill's musings on sexual harassment in general.

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