Hate is a strong word, but almost not strong enough when it comes to describing how most black folks I know feel about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
In an informal poll taken last Saturday among African-American men at my barber shop here in Melbourne, Fla., "Uncle Clarence" -- as we unaffectionately call him -- emerged as the most hated person in America.
No big surprise, but the other candidates really put the brothers' disdain for Thomas into perspective. He won out over Donald Trump, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, R. Kelly, TO, LeBron James, Barry Bonds, Sarah Palin, Nene Leakes, Herman Cain and Dick Cheney/George W. Bush (joined infamously at the hip) -- all of whom came up in the discussion.
And why did Thomas come out on top? The overwhelming sentiment was, "Dude, don't take it out on us just because you hate yourself!" To a person, all of us share the belief that Thomas is the embodiment of black self-hatred to the point of exacting that hatred on black people in many of his Supreme Court decisions. It's kind of like we're part of a bad blaxploitation film called, "Clarence's Revenge."
In his own warped mind, he probably thinks he's administering tough love. But what he's really doing is interpreting law like his neocon masters want him to. It's like he buys into all of the negative stereotypes about us and goes out of his way to go against anything that can be seen as helpful to blacks in particular, but to the poor and disfranchised of all races in general.
And if you have doubts about the lengths Thomas would take to please his neocon masters, remember that he threw his own sister under the bus years ago when he likened her to a welfare queen. But the true story was that she was a hard working single parent who quit working two minimum wage jobs to care for an elderly aunt stricken by a stroke. She went on welfare temporarily, not because she was lazy or government dependent, but so she could take of her aunt.
The disdain for Thomas expressed by our barber shop group wasn't just a bunch of guys mouthing off for the heck of it. It was genuine disgust, anger and pain based on Thomas' willingness to shamefully villify his own sister and other blacks for political gain, coupled with his shameful voting record and how those decisions adversely affect many of America's most powerless and downtrodder citizens.
Our feelings were more or less captured in an article published on AlterNet when author Glen Ford called Thomas "...a hit-man against his own people... and a perverse right-wing joke played on blacks."
In an article published in the Washington Post back on Dec. 3, 2000, Courtland Milloy made these observations about Thomas:
He has voted to cut off debate in a death penalty case, even when newly revealed evidence might have proven the defendant innocent. He has cast the deciding vote to make it harder for blacks to prove they were victims of job discrimination. He has even voted against expanding voting rights for blacks and, in one case, disputed the history of using the 1965 Voting Rights Act to help elect more blacks in the South.
In last week's case about the use of roadblocks by police, which Thomas's side lost in a 6 to 3 vote, he wrote a rare separate dissent in which he seemed to acknowledge that he knew that such roadblocks were wrong but that he was going to side with conservative Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justice Scalia anyway.
Sort of thumbing his nose at black America.
That article was written over a decade ago and Uncle Clarence hasn't changed a bit...and has possibly gotten worse, not only with his pitiful voting record, but also with the questionable conduct of him and his far right-wing wife.
Thomas is currently embroiled in a controversy regarding his "cozy" relationship with a conservative real estate mogul from Texas. According to an article by Mike McIntire published June 18, 2011 in the New York Times this tycoon "has done many favors for the justice and his wife, Virginia, helping finance a Savannah library project dedicated to Justice Thomas, presenting him with a Bible that belonged to Frederick Douglass and reportedly providing $500,000 for Ms. Thomas to start a Tea Party-related group."
All of this dependency on his neocon benefactor from a guy who loves to preach "self-responsibility."
Thomas's abysmal voting record and emerging ethical improprieties should be enough to disqualify him from serving on our nation's highest court...but they won't because let's face it, impeachment isn't going to happen. But if the brothers in my barber shop could have their way, he would've been gone yesterday.
One thing is for sure, I bet Thomas doesn't set foot inside black barber shops. Otherwise, he might just have a different point of view and a better hair cut.