Appearing Monday at the Glamour “Women of the Year” summit in Brooklyn, Biden chose to attack Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas for unproven allegations made against him in 1991 by then-University of Oklahoma law professor Anita Hill. Hill, timing her charges in a failed attempt to scuttle the nomination of Thomas to the High Court, accused him of having sexually harassed her years earlier when he was the chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and Hill was his subordinate.
When asked if he wishes he had done anything differently during the Thomas hearings during which Hill leveled her charges, Biden responded, “I’m so sorry that she had to go through what she went through. Think of the courage it took for her to come forward … I feel really badly that she didn’t feel like the process worked.” He boasted that he had “believed in Anita,” by voting against Thomas’ confirmation. “Anita Hill was victimized, there is no question in my mind.”
A Yahoo News story covering the event basically accepts that Hill was telling the truth with its “reporting,” matter-of-factly stating, “During the awards ceremony itself, Hill stood onstage beside other victims of sexual harassment and assault.”
Biden’s remarks are instructive. Once Thomas was confirmed, conservatives largely believed the battle was over. But not liberals. They understand far better than conservatives the importance of “winning” every historical incident, in the court of public opinion. They never concede. Using their advantages in the liberal media, the liberal forces that dominate the popular culture, and liberals in academia, they are allowed to change, even distort, public perceptions of historical events, with hardly any resistance from conservatives.
The character assassination of Thomas still serves the purposes of the Left. As a prominent black conservative, Thomas could be expected to emerge as a significant role model for those in the African-American community. That simply could not be allowed in 1991, and it cannot be permitted now.
Without getting into the weeds of the Thomas-Hill confrontation at the confirmation hearings, there are many reasons to believe that the very liberal Hill made her insinuations against Thomas because she did not want a conservative judge — especially a conservative black judge — on the Supreme Court. After leaving the EEOC, Hill took a job with the Oral Roberts law school in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Three years later, she invited Thomas to speak at an EEOC function in Tulsa. The dean at the ORU law school, Charles Kothe, planned to take Thomas back to the airport the next morning, but Hill showed up for breakfast and insisted on driving Thomas herself in her new Peugeot.
Hill continued to call Thomas from time to time, “almost always when she wanted something,” as Thomas recalled it. She usually spoke with Diane Holt, Thomas’ secretary, and left messages, and even called Thomas at his home on occasion until Thomas changed his phone number. In one instance, she even left her hotel room number with Thomas’ secretary.
While the Left rallied to Hill in 1991, arguing that a woman should always be believed in any charge of sexual harassment, regardless of the evidence, they radically changed their stance with the Clinton scandals of 1998, only seven years later. Betty Friedan, the arch-feminist, defended President Clinton over three women who charged him with sexual harassment — Paula Jones, Kathleen Willey, and Juanita Broaddrick (who actually said that Clinton raped her). In a classic example of double-standard hypocrisy, the National Organization for Women fought against Thomas, but strongly defended Clinton.
The 26 senators, including Biden, who had voted against Thomas’ confirmation and were still in office in 1998 voted to keep Clinton in office. Every single one.
Even Anita Hill defended Clinton, arguing in Newsweek that the two situations “are quite different.”
Sure they are. In one case, unfounded accusations were made against a conservative nominee to the Supreme Court, and in the Clinton case, the charges were against a liberal icon.
Several former female employees of Thomas rose to his defense, and the hearings concluded with a dramatic swing in Thomas’ favor in the court of public opinion. At the close of the hearing, about two-thirds of Americans polled thought Thomas, not Hill, was telling the truth. By the end of 1992, however, the public believed Hill 53-37 percent.
This is because of the Left’s control of the media, the popular culture, and academia. They keep repeating their version of events, while conservatives go on with other things. Biden’s attack on Clarence Thomas is illustrative of a much larger problem, a problem that conservatives should note, and resolve to fight back against.
As George Orwell said, those who control the present control the past, and those who control the past, control the future.
Photo: AP Images
Steve Byas is the author of History’s Greatest Libels, in which he challenges the politicized distortions of the past. He devotes one chapter to the Clarence Thomas case.