The enigma of clarence thomas. Whose Side Is Clarence Thomas On?

a book review by Mike Farris: The Enigma of Clarence Thomas

the enigma of clarence thomas

Thomas came to believe that, for the white liberal, offering help to black people was a way to express the combined privileges of race and class. However, like Myers Anderson, they can play the game and do their best to rise to the top through personal virtue, hard work, and tough-mindedness. Instantly, as I started researching Thomas—about whom I knew next to nothing—I was so struck by the resonance of his story: racial pessimism, this deep immersion in black nationalism, and so on. The 60s peace and love movements had problems with women and gender issues in general; the Black Panthers had them in spades. He still feels that way, but the experience of becoming a wealthy and powerful Justice changed that.

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Book review of The Enigma of Clarence Thomas by Corey Robin

the enigma of clarence thomas

As the book jacket says, he's likely the most powerful black man in the country. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves or figments of their imagination, indeed, everything and anything except me. By his own admission, he is not one of them. Most of all it gives one a way to look into a mind most disregard, either as a loyal conservative ally or a black stooge of a racist Republican Party, and both are sometimes done with racist thinking. Robin points out that conservatives often saw Thurgood Marshall in the same way, and it's hard not to see the possibility of unconscious bias. Why is this so relevant to his jurisprudence? The Enigma of Clarence Thomas first got my attention in a review in The Atlantic magazine. People who know more know that he was married before and his first wife was black.

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The Enigma of Clarence Thomas: A Conversation (Corey Robin, Kendall Thomas)

the enigma of clarence thomas

Robin still makes daring arguments with often unsettling conclusions, with little in the way of quibbling or equivocation. It may be that originalism, natural law theorizing, and Burkeanism are ultimately self-serving and thin ways to approach the law. The book does have tenuous claims, such as the exact nature of Thomas Sowell's influence on Thomas. Before the Civil War, slave apologists said they were the ones really looking out for black people by keeping them as slaves; after the war Republicans said they were the ones actually looking out for black people by giving them the right to vote. He often comes close to arguing that affirmative action is simply the continuation of Jim Crow: not simply because, as other white conservatives claim, it is race-conscious, but because it is race consciousness that he thinks harms African Americans, a race consciousness that is defended, as Jim Crow often was, as in the interests of African Americans. Thomas conceded some of the arguments and argued that such behavior may be immoral and even criminal, but Thomas still disputed that it reached the threshold of cruel and unusual punishment. The book succeeds when it carefully analyzes Thomas' legal opinions.

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The Enigma of Clarence Thomas by Corey Robin review

the enigma of clarence thomas

As with Robin's sharp writing and observations, it makes for a read that is cerebral, humane, and cutting. At the time, the college was even whiter than its environs. To Robin, fear is a primary political emotion whose significance is often underestimated. I'm less enamored with the attempts to tie his thought to particular details of his life, especially towards the Persuasive. Robin's leftist bias is held in check, but can still be seen here and there.

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[The Enigma of Clarence Thomas]

the enigma of clarence thomas

In politics we assume our disagreements stem from underlying values and assumptions: what one side takes for granted the other thinks is absurd. Thomas became a person I could disagree with but see as another human instead of as conservative court justice number 2. Many of their successors, including Thomas, no longer believe that kind of change is possible. I think people find him a very infectious presence in a positive way, as a personality. Honesty is demonstrated through crude statements of personal animus or intellectual suggestions of racial inequality. When ruling against extending rights for gays, he may even claim that homophobic discrimination by the state can in no way impugn the innate dignity of gay people, since that is beyond the reach of political authorities.

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Corey Robin’s Account Of Clarence Thomas Is Lost In Left Field.

the enigma of clarence thomas

Citing everyone from Booker T. I'm just not convinced, as Robin appears to be, that Clarence Thomas uses originalism and textualism as smokescreens for his true project of forcing black Americans to submit to a carceral state so they might build personal responsibility and defend themselves against the constant of white supremacy with guns. He also thinks generations of black men have been crippl. We are told that Thomas's opinion in Utah v. Clarence clearly cares a lot about the independence of black people and how he wants them to thrive and succeed in life, but on their own two feet without the white government forcing anything upon them.

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The Enigma of Clarence Thomas by Corey Robin review

the enigma of clarence thomas

I did find myself reading a complete chapter in each sitting chapters are pretty short so that I could get the big, not-at-all-pretty, picture. Progressives believe we live in an unjust society, which can be changed. Where does he say you should sacrifice your institutions to be next to white people? Other days he postures as a disciple of natural law theorizing. Kendall Thomas is the Nash Professor of Law and co-founder and director of the Center for the Study of Law and Culture at Columbia Law School. One meeting—with a high-school student named Cedric Jennings—was immortalized in a 1998 Esquire piece.

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The Enigma of Clarence Thomas

the enigma of clarence thomas

Well, as Robin shows us, he uses this reasoning to nudge the door shut for black people whether it be on the voting rights act or on welfare. This keeps everyone including blacks in line and to live respectable lives. One of twelve black students, he was the beneficiary of an affirmative-action program—Yale had decreed that ten per cent of the incoming class would be students of color—of the sort he would later come to revile. The summer before Thomas arrived, the school contacted incoming white students to see if they would object to having a black roommate. That said, I think Robin proves his expertise on the subject matter while writing an ineffective book. As Thomas sees it, free societies require for their survival a special kind of personal and national character, marked by the independence, responsibility, and self-reliance necessary to surmount the inevitable obstacles that are part of the human condition. Thomas is also among the most conservative justices on the court.

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