Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, long criticized in the Black community for his conservative viewpoints and opinions on the bench, has garnered a number of defenders following what they call racist attacks against him..
A group of Black writers and thinkers across a range of disciplines and political ideologies have joined up to defend Thomas. In an open letter published on RealClearPolitics they demanded: No matter one’s feelings on Thomas, it is always unacceptable for white people to use racist language when referring to the associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.
York College of Pennsylvania associate professor and co-founder of FreeBlackThought.com, Erec Smith, is among the one hundred Black luminaries who signed onto the letter.
Smith maintains that despite his usual utter disagreement with Thomas on most issues, he won’t abide anyone who feels emboldened to use racial insults against Thomas. Likening the remarks to the slur, “uppity,” Smith says it’s language that seeks to diminish and disrespect- and it’s only used by white people against Black ones.
He said, “It seems like if a black person doesn’t follow a particular script, it must be because he’s trying to please white people. It couldn’t possibly be because he looked at the evidence, made an assessment and came to a conclusion that he is going to think or do something in particular. It has to be ‘Oh, he’s trying to please white people,’ “
Thomas has long been the target of criticisms in the Black community since his embattled confirmation hearings in 1991. The open opponent of affirmative action has consistently leaned right on most issues decided by the high court, siding with other conservative opinions. The decision that overturned Roe v. Wade saw Thomas agree that women do not have a constitutional right to terminate a pregnancy.
While there was much derision of the decision and the justices who took away the right protecting American women for some 50 years, Thomas was targeted on social media and called “porch monkey,” “coon” and “slave to his (white) wife.” Of course, the most obvious and overused slur starting with the letter n was hurled at him as well.
The letter pulls no punches. “We, the undersigned, condemn the barrage of racist, vicious, and ugly personal attacks that we are witnessing on Clarence Thomas… Whether it is calling him a racist slur, an “Uncle Tom” or questioning his “blackness” over his jurisprudence, the disparagement of this man, of his faith and of his character, is abominable,” the letter asserts. It continues, “He is entirely undeserving of the vitriol directed at him. Character assassination has become too convenient a tool for eviscerating those who dare dissent from the prevailing agenda, especially when it is a black man who is dissenting.”
The principal authors of the letter are Brown University economics professor Glenn Loury and Robert Woodson Sr., founder of The Woodson Center, a Washington D.C.-based conservative nonprofit organization.