Thursday, October 11, 2007

Women Who Testified Against Anita Hill, Part IX

Here is the testimony of J.C. Alvarez. Her testimony is especially powerful. Notice that it is interrupted in the middle by several minutes of squabbling because Senate Democrats didn't want to let her finish (this shows that they weren't interested in hearing from women; just from Anita Hill and anything that would derail Thomas's nomination).
Sunday, October 13, 1991 Evening Session

[Statement of Ms. Alvarez]

MS. ALVAREZ: My name is J. C. Alvarez. I am a businesswoman from Chicago. I am a single mom, raising a 15-year-old son, running a business. In many ways, I am just a John Q. Public from Middle America, not unlike a lot of the people watching out there and not unlike a lot of your constituents.

But the political world is not a world that I am unfamiliar with. I spent nine years in Washington, D.C. A year with Senator Danforth, two years with the Secretary of Education, a short stint at the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and four years as Special Assistant to Clarence Thomas at the EEOC.

Because of this past political experience, I was just before this Committee a couple of weeks ago speaking in support of Clarence Thomas's nomination to the Supreme Court. I was then and I still am in favor of Clarence Thomas being on the Supreme Court.

When I was asked to testify the last time, I flew to Washington, D. C., very proud and happy to be part of the process of nominating a Supreme Court Justice. When I was sitting here before you last time, I remember why I had liked working in Washington, D.C., so much--the intellectual part of it, the high quality of the debate. Although I have to admit when I had to listen to some of your questioning and postulating and politicking, I remembered why I had left. And I thought at that point that certainly I had seen it all.

After the hearings, I flew back to Chicago, back to being John Q. Public, having a life very far removed from this political world, and it would have been easy to stay away from politics in Washington, D.C. Like most of your constituents out there, I have more than my share of day-to-day challenges that have nothing to do with Washington, D.C., and politics. As I said before, I am a single mom, raising a teenager in today's society, running a business, making ends meet--you know, soccer games, homework, doing laundry, paying bills, that is my day-to-day reality.

Since I left Washington, D.C., I vote once every four years for President and more frequently for other State and local officials. And I could have remained outside of the political world for a long, long time and not missed it. I don't need this. I needed to come here like I needed a hole in the head. It cost me almost $900 just for the plane ticket to come here, and then there is the hotel and other expenses. And I can assure you that especially in these recessionary times I have got lots of other uses for that money.

So, why did I come? Why didn't I just stay uninvolved and apolitical? Because, Senators, like most real Americans who witness a crime being committed, who witness an injustice being done, I could not look the other way and pretend that I did not see it. I had to get involved.

In my real life, I have walked down the street and seen a man beating up a woman and I have stepped in and tried to stop it. I have walked through a park and seen a group of teenage hoodlums taunting an old drunk man and I have jumped in the middle of it. I don't consider myself a hero. No, I am just a real American from Middle America who will not stand by and watch a crime being committed and walk away. To do so would be the beginning of the deterioration of society and of this great country.

No, Senators, I cannot stand by and watch a group of thugs beat up and rob a man of his money any more than I could have stayed in Chicago and stood by and watched you beat up an innocent man and rob him blind. Not of his money. That would have been too easy. You could pay that back. No, you have robbed a man of his name, his character and his reputation.

And what is amazing to me is that you didn't do it in a dark alley and you didn't do it in the dark of night. You did it in broad daylight, in front of all America, on television, for the whole world to see. Yes, Senators, I am witnessing a crime in progress and I cannot just look the other way. Because I am John Q. Public and I am getting involved.

I know Clarence Thomas and I know Anita Hill. I was there from the first few weeks of Clarence coming to the Commission. I had the office next to Anita's. We all worked together in setting and executing the goals and the direction that the Chairman had for the EEOC. I remember Chris Roggerson, Carlton Stewart, Nancy Fitch, Barbara Parris, Phyllis Berry, Bill Ng, Allyson Duncan, Diane Holt--each of us with our own area of expertise and responsibility, but together all of us a part of Clarence Thomas's hand-picked staff.

I don't know how else to say it, but I have to tell you that it just blew my mind to see Anita Hill testifying on Friday. Honest to goodness, it was like schizophrenia. That was not the Anita Hill that I knew and worked with at EEOC. On Friday, she played the role of a meek, innocent, shy Baptist girl from the South who was a victim of this big, bad man.

I don't know who she was trying to kid. Because the Anita Hill that I knew and worked with was nothing like that. She was a very hard, tough woman. She was opinionated. She was arrogant. She was a relentless debater. And she was the kind of woman who always made you feel like she was not going to be messed with, like she was not going to take anything from anyone.

She was aloof. She always acted as if she was a little bit superior to everyone, a little "holier than thou." I can recall at the time that she had a view of herself and her abilities that did not seem to be based in reality. For example, it was sort of common knowledge around the office that she thought she should have been Clarence's chief legal advisor and that she should have received better assignments.

And I distinctly remember when I would hear about her feeling that way or when I would see her pout in office meetings about assignments that she had gotten, I used to think to myself, "Come on, Anita, let's come down to earth and live in reality." She had only been out of law school a couple of years and her experience and her ability couldn't begin to compare with some of the others on the staff.

But I also have to say that I was not totally surprised at her wanting these assignments because she definitely came across as someone who was ambitious and watched out for her own advancement. She wasn't really a team player, but more someone who looked out for herself first. You could see the same thing in her relationships with others at the office.

SENATOR KENNEDY: [Presiding.] Excuse me. Ms. Alvarez, we had the five minutes, you know, for the other panel. But we have very extensive questionings. I don't want to cut you off when you have been waiting a long time.

MS. ALVAREZ: Well, Senator, if you would just give me a few more minutes.

SENATOR THURMOND: Mr. Chairman, I would like to make a statement. The other panel has been on all day long. This is a panel in reverse now. And the only limitation was the nine, number nine, for one hour, and that is the last panel to come on.

I object to cutting these people off. They are entitled to speak.

SENATOR LEAHY: Mr. Chairman, we made an agreement just about 10 minutes ago and it is already being broken. Let's stick to the agreement.

SENATOR THURMOND: There is no agreement on this panel at all. It was the last panel of nine people that we agreed to take one hour on and no more. This panel is answering the first panel that has been on here for hours and hours, and they are entitled to speak, and we are going to contend for it.

SENATOR KENNEDY: Well, I think the record will show that there were as many questions focused on the other panel from that side as it was from this side. I distinctly heard the Chairman say that they were going to be five minutes and then it is unlimited.

SENATOR THURMOND: Well, he suggested five minutes.

SENATOR KENNEDY: All right. Let's make it seven.

SENATOR THURMOND: No, we don't want to limit them.

SENATOR KENNEDY: Let's make it seven.

SENATOR THURMOND: You didn't limit this morning. You didn't limit all day long. They were in your favor. Here are some in our favor. They are entitled to speak.

SENATOR HATCH: And they read their full statements, the last panel.

SENATOR KENNEDY: I will ask the clerk to read back what Chairman Biden said about this panel.

SENATOR THURMOND: Well, send it to Chairman Biden.

SENATOR KENNEDY: I will ask the clerk to read back what was agreed to.


SENATOR LEAHY: It was agreed to.

SENATOR THURMOND: He just said he suggested five minutes.

SENATOR SIMPSON: Mr. Chairman? Mr. Chairman?

SENATOR KENNEDY: Go ahead, Ms. Alvarez. Continue.

SENATOR SIMPSON: Mr. Chairman, if I--

SENATOR KENNEDY: Ms. Alvarez is going to continue.

SENATOR SIMPSON: Mr. Chairman, if I could, I think we all concurred on the one panel with three minutes and that is separate and apart from this.

SENATOR THURMOND: The last panel.

SENATOR SIMPSON: And this is the regular panel and the regular time that we did this morning with the other group. And we just ask for the same courtesies here.

SENATOR KENNEDY: That is exactly, the Senator has stated. Whatever time was given to the earlier panel ought to be given to this panel.

I am glad the Chair is back.


SENATOR KENNEDY: Good to see you, Joe.

SENATOR BIDEN: [Presiding.] Please go on.

MS. ALVAREZ: If I could finish.

SENATOR BIDEN: I am not sure I know--I know I don't know, and I don't want it repeated. Did you all settle it? Are we all square?

MS. ALVAREZ: It is settled. I am going to finish.

SENATOR BIDEN: There is no limit on this panel. What is the motion?

SENATOR THURMOND: There is no motion at all. Just let them speak till they get through.


MS. ALVAREZ: Please. I made an awful lot of effort to come here. I would like to just finish saying what I have to say.

SENATOR BIDEN: Yes. You go right ahead.

MS. ALVAREZ: You could see that Anita Hill was not a real team player, but more someone who looked out for herself. You could see this even in her relationships with others at the office. She mostly kept to herself, although she would occasionally participate in some of the girl-talk among the women at the office, and I have to add that I don't recall her being particularly shy or innocent about that either.

You see, Senators, that was the Anita Hill that we all knew and we worked with. And that is why hearing her on Friday was so shocking. No, not shocking. It was so sickening. Trust me, the Anita Hill I knew and worked with was a totally different personality from the Anita Hill I heard on Friday. The Anita Hill I knew before was nobody's victim.

The Clarence Thomas I knew and worked with was also not who Anita Hill alleges. Everyone who knows Clarence, knows that he is a very proud and dignified man. With his immediate staff, he was very warm and friendly, sort of like a friend or a father. You could talk with him about your problems, go to him for advice, but, like a father, he commanded and he demanded respect. He demanded professionalism and performance, and he was very strict about that.

Because we were friends outside of the office or perhaps in private, I might have called him Clarence, but in the office he was Mr. Chairman. You didn't joke around with him, you didn't lose your respect for him, you didn't become too familiar with him, because he would definitely let you know that you had crossed the line.

Clarence was meticulous about being sure that he retained a very serious and professional atmosphere within his office, without the slightest hint of impropriety, and everyone knew it.

We weren't a coffee-klatching group. We didn't have office parties or Christmas parties, because Clarence didn't think it was appropriate for us to give others the impression that we were not serious or professional or perhaps working as hard as everyone else. He wanted to maintain a dignity about his office and his every behavior and action confirmed that.

As his professional colleague, I traveled with him, had lunch and dinner with him, worked with him, one-on-one and with others. Never did he ever lose his respect for me, and never did we ever have a discussion of the type that Ms. Hill alleges. Never was he the slightest bit improper in his behavior with me. In every situation I have shared with Clarence Thomas, he has been the ultimate professional and he has required it of those around him, in particular, his personal staff.

From the moment they surfaced, I thought long and hard about these allegations. You see, I, too, have experienced sexual harassment in the past. I have been physically accosted by a man in an elevator who I rebuffed. I was trapped in a xerox room by a man who I refused to date. Obviously, it is an issue I have experienced, I understand, and I take very seriously.

But having lived through it myself, I find Anita Hill's behavior inconsistent with these charges. I can assure you that when I come into town, the last thing I want to do is call either of these two men up and say hello or see if they want to get together.

To be honest with you, I can hardly remember their names, but I can assure you that I would never try and even maintain a cordial relationship with either one of them. Women who have really been harassed would agree, if he allegations were true, you put as much distance as you can between yourself and that other person.

What's more, you don't follow them to the next job--especially, if you are a black female, Yale law school graduate. Let's face it, out in the corporate sector, companies are fighting for women with those kinds of credentials. Her behavior just isn't consistent with the behavior of a woman who has been harassed, and it just doesn't make sense.

Senators, I don't know what else to say to have you understand the crime that has been committed here. It has to make all of us suspicious of her motives, when someone of her legal background comes in here at the 11th hour, after 10 years, and having had four other opportunities through congressional hearings to oppose this man, and alleges such preposterous things.

I have been contacted by I think every reporter in the country, looking for dirt. And when I present the facts as I experienced them, it is interesting, they don't print it. It's just not as juicy as her amazing allegations.

What is this country coming to, when an innocent man can be ambushed like this, jumped by a gang whose ring leader is one of his own proteges, Anita Hill? Like Julius Caesar, he must want to turn to her and say, "Et tu, Brutus? You too, Anita?"

As a mother with a child, I can only begin to imagine how Clarence must feel, being betrayed by one of his own. Nothing would hurt me more. And I guess he described it best in his opening statement on Friday. His words and his emotions are still ringing in all of our ears and all of our hearts.

I have done the best I could, Senators, to be honest in my statement to you. I have presented the situation as it was then, as I lived it, side by side, with Clarence and with Anita.

You know, I talked with my mom before I came here, and she reminded me that I was always raised to stand up for what I believed. I have seen an innocent man being mugged in broad daylight, and I have not looked the other way. This John Q. Public came here and got involved.
See also Women Who Testified Against Anita Hill, Part VIII, Women Who Testified Against Anita Hill, Part VII, Women Who Testified Against Anita HIll, Part VI, Women Who Testified Against Anita Hill, Part V, Women Who Testified Against Anita Hill, Part IV, Women Who Testified Against Anita Hill, Part III, Women Who Testified Against Anita Hill, Part II and Women Who Testified Against Anita Hill, Part I.

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