Jewish World Review July 14, 2003 / 14 Tamuz 5763

Paul Greenberg

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Dr. Dowd analyzes Clarence Thomas | For one day and one day only we here at the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette lifted our suspension of Maureen Dowd from the editorial page. We'd dropped her after she violated a basic rule of journalism -- and honesty -- by distorting a quote of George W. Bush's for her own polemical purposes. She'd left out a key clause and tried to hide the deed by replacing it with a few dots. (Naturally, in this age of the Internet, she was caught by a blogger, journalism's new equivalent of the posse.)

Nevertheless, we just had to print her recent column attacking Clarence Thomas for his dissent from the Supreme Court's latest decision and sleight-of-hand on behalf of Affirmative Action. Because her attitude summed up the new segism abroad in the land -- and the elite's contempt for any black man who dares dissent from it.

This time Dr. Dowd delivered herself not only of a political opinion but a psychoanalysis of her victim. She cited Justice Thomas' dissent in Grutter v. Bollinger as "a clinical study of a man who has been driven barking mad by the beneficial treatment he has received."

This time Maureen had a point: Mr. Justice Thomas was mad as white-hot Hell. It's a wonder the paper his dissent was written on didn't burst into flames. The old boy had lost it. He'd declared war on just about every piece of conventional wisdom about the Negro Question in the white liberal's whole, condescending, guilt-ridden catalog of nostrums, especially Affirmative Action. To quote just a couple of his rapier thrusts:

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  • "(S)elective admissions has been the vehicle for racial, ethnic, and religious tinkering and experimentation by university administrators. . Columbia, Harvard, and others (once) infamously determined that they had 'too many' Jews, just as today the (University of Michigan) Law School argues it would have 'too many' whites if it could not discriminate in its admissions process."

  • "The Law School is not looking for those students who, despite a lower LSAT score or undergraduate grade point average, will succeed in the study of law. The Law School seeks only a fašade -- it is sufficient that the class looks right, even if it does not perform right." (Shades of Bill Clinton's wanting a Cabinet that looked like America.)

  • "When blacks take positions in the higher places of government, industry, or academia, it is an open question today whether their skin color played a part in their advancement."

That insulting question arises mainly because of Affirmative Action. One of its principal results has been to create resentment and raise suspicions. Maureen Dowd herself assumes that Clarence Thomas couldn't have made it into Yale on his own. Which is the same suspicion that lingers over every black student on an Ivy League campus, and every black executive given a desk.

Of course Clarence Thomas is sick to madness of being told he's undeserving because, after all, he's black, and we all know how They get promoted, don't we? How else could someone with his mediocre views and talents (meaning anyone who wouldn't fit in at The New York Times) have climbed so high?

No wonder Clarence Thomas is seething. Suppose you were told, year after year, that you were inferior, undeserving and a traitor to your race? Wouldn't it drive you nuts, too? No wonder he came out of his judicial corner swinging.

Clearly the man has lost his bearings. Here's a black justice of the Supreme Court who refuses to play Grateful Negro to Maureen Dowd's Lady Bountiful. He doesn't seem to realize that he owes his success to white liberals like her who have tilted the scales in his favor.

Here's Clarence Thomas' big problem: He doesn't seem to realize, as Lani Guinier pointed out some time ago, that black is not a racial but an ideological designation. And if you don't agree with Dr. Guinier (or Columnist Dowd), you must be an impostor: a white man in a black skin. Just somebody trying to pass. You're not the genuine sable article till the Lani Guiniers and Maureen Dowds of the world certify you. Don't be fooled by mere appearances.

Al Sharpton, bless his candid heart, said it just the other day: "Clarence Thomas is my color, but he's not my kind."

What Maureen Dowd is trying to say, in her snotty little bien-pensant, nice-little-French-restaurant-in-the-East-Sixties way, is that Clarence Thomas is not a member of the club. He is insufficiently grateful. He voices his own opinions instead of echoing those that are good for him, namely hers. The man is obviously sick, sick, sick.

But after reading Maureen Dowd's analysis of Clarence Thomas, I don't think it's Justice Thomas who has the problem.

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JWR contributor Paul Greenberg, editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, has won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. Send your comments by clicking here.

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