Six Supreme Court justices voted last week to overturn Roe v. Wade. The majority opinion was authored by Justice Samuel Alito. After the ruling, however, intense and special attention was paid to another justice: Clarence Thomas.
Shortly after the court handed down its decision, some pro-choice advocates began hurling outrageous and downright racist remarks at Thomas (notably a liberal repetition of the “N-word” on Twitter) — often to the approval of some other left-leaning speakers. white
Thomas’s embrace of the Republican Party resonates with a deep distrust of white liberals, the institutions they control, and the policies they try to promote in the name of “social justice.”
The remarks were so ubiquitous that “Uncle Clarence” began. trendy on Twitter, a reference to the eponymous character in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, who appeared as a symbol black men who are too subservient to white men.
In practice, the term is mostly used against black people who hold positions that liberals find distasteful. For example, “Uncle Tim” formerly popular on Twitter after black Republican Senator Tim Scott rebutted President Joe Biden’s inaugural address to a joint session of Congress.
Again, in other cases, minorities who violate the preferences and sensibilities of liberals literally stated to be white instead. At least since Thomas and Scott are branded as race traitors, critics still acknowledge their race.
However, there is a deep irony in characterizing Thomas as “Uncle Tom” (or worse), given that before entering the civil service he identified with black nationalism. He is now married to a white woman and has joined the Republican Party. However, as political theorist Corey Robin has shown in his book “Mystery of Clarence Thomas”, his views on race and racial issues remained very consistent throughout his life.
Indeed, Thomas’ commitment to the Republican Party resonates with a deep distrust of white liberals, the institutions they control, and the policies they try to promote in the name of “social justice.”
That mistrust was widespread among black activists of his generation—and is consistent with Thomas’ Supreme Court decisions, including overturning Roe. If anything, the attacks on Thomas by many liberals after Dobbs v. Jackson confirm the pessimistic view of race relations that prevailed among many of the black thinkers who shaped Thomas’s worldview and that Thomas himself exhibits.
It was Malcolm X, of course, who is famous stated that “in this lying American game of power politics, Negroes (i.e. race, integration, and civil rights issues) are nothing more than tools used by one group of whites called liberals against another group of whites called conservatives, or for come to power or stay in power.”
He argued that white liberals and white conservatives differed “only in one way: the liberal is more lying than the conservative. A liberal is more hypocritical than a conservative. Both want power, but the white liberal is the one who has perfected the art of pretending to be the Negro’s friend and benefactor.” He continued: “Having won the friendship, allegiance, and support of the Negro, the white liberal can use the Negro as a pawn or tool.”
A 2019 New Yorker profile reported that Thomas also supported Black Panther leader Kathleen Cleaver and Communist Party member Angela Davis, both of whom were wanted by the police.
“When asked at his confirmation hearing what he majored in, Thomas said, ‘English literature.’ When asked what he was minor in, he said, “protest,” the article noted, noting that his first visit to Washington was for a march against the Vietnam War, and the last rally he attended demanded the release of two “Black Panthers”. . “I have never been a liberal,” the article quoted him as saying during a 1996 speech. “I was a radical.”
Thomas seems set on this path the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. King put forward a particularly optimistic view of white liberals and inter-racial advocacy. However, a few months before his death, even he was forced to do so yield that “Negroes proceeded from the premise that equality meant what it said, and they took white America at its word when they spoke of it as a goal.”
In contrast, he wrote, most whites “start from the premise that equality is a free expression for improvement. White America isn’t even psychologically organized to close the gap—in fact, it only wants to make it less painful and less obvious, but in most respects preserve it. Most of the controversy between Negroes and white liberals arises from this fact.”
Political theorist Robin notes that in effects of King’s assassination, which occurred while he was a student at Holy Cross in Worcester, “by his own account, Thomas realized that nobody was going to do anything for black people. And by nobody, he means white liberals and white leftists.”
Until then, Thomas came to Yale Law School, he was militant on racial issues and more or less completely disillusioned with mainstream liberalism. Hillary Clinton, who coincided with him in the early 70s, recently stated that as long as she had known Thomas he had always been full of “resentment”, “anger” and “resentment”. Unspoken but critical context: These were the feelings Thomas was expressing particularly white liberals (as did Clinton herself) that dominated Yale at the time and continues to dominate elite spaces today.
Thomas noted in a recent interview, people regularly suggest that he has difficulty with other black people because of his politics. “It’s just the opposite,” he declared. “The only people I’ve ever had a problem with are white, liberal elites who think they’re anointed and we’re cursed…I’ve never had a problem with people of my own race.”
In fact, there were many prominent black intellectuals and leaders whose black nationalist distrust of white liberals eventually led them to conservatism. For Thomas, it was work black economist Thomas Sowell, which eventually helped him channel his fears about “white saviors” into a coherent, right-wing political philosophy.
There is a deep irony in the characterization of Thomas as an “Uncle Tom” (or worse), given that he identified with black nationalism before entering public service.
However, black nationalist impulses continue to influence his decisions and judicial philosophy. For example, core to Thoughts of Thomas, according to Robin, is “a belief in black self-defense.” This is a commitment lower belts Thomas’ strong support for the Second Amendment. It also plays an important role in his opposition to abortion.
Thomas has repeatedly expressed his abhorrence of abortion significantly informed because of its deep and long-standing ties to racial eugenics programs. It should be noted that these eugenic initiatives were heavily pushed by white liberals of that time, also in the name of helping the marginalized and disadvantaged. Thomas distrusts the kind of social justice rhetoric used by abortion rights advocates today.
Want more articles like this? Follow THINK on Instagram for updates on the week’s most important political analytics
Instead, the reaction of many modern liberals to Thomas for deviating from his preferred abortion policies — including the shameless acceptance of racial epithets and slurs, in the name of defending social justice, no less! —seems to be a clear confirmation of the long-held suspicion of black nationalists that, in the main, many self-proclaimed “allies” are deeply racist and are simply using the black cause as a convenient means of consolidating their own power and influence.
As cultural critic Yasmin Nair put it down in a tweet on Saturday: “Clarence Thomas is not your ‘I might be racist’ card, folks.” This is something that should never even be said to those who are supposedly committed to social justice. The point is that probably should say what he says.