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Maureen Dowd | Anita Hill 20 Years Later

Maureen Dowd

  • Remarks from Maureen Dowd, The New York Times, who could not attend.

    October 15, 2011

    I’m so sorry I can’t be with you today. The Anita Hill hearings were the most searing professional experience of my life, like a psychic dentist’s drill sinking into the most sensitive, least explored parts of the national consciousness on sex, race and power.  My friend Ruth Marcus of The Washington Post has said everyone in the Senate Judiciary hearing room that week couldn’t wait for it to be over.

    I felt the reverse. I wanted it to go on longer, until the web of lies Clarence Thomas wove with such bravado was torn away. I kept waking up in the middle of the night trying to figure out what had really happened between these two intense, accomplished people. Any rush to justice might mean a Justice on the Supreme Court who had used the Big Lie and lynching imagery to cow a bunch of white, male senators.

    I still remember chasing Arlen Specter down the hall to ask how he could vilify Hill as a bitter perjurer? I still remember feeling outraged when Joe Biden, the chairman of the committee, cut the hearing short before calling the two women who could have testified to Thomas’s unseemly intimidation of women in the office. I still remember feeling disheartened that Teddy Kennedy, muted by his own reputation with women, could not combat Orrin Hatch’s absurd contention that Thomas, an aficianado of X-rated films, was an altar boy who could not possibly know the language of pornography.  . I still remember Clarence Thomas with his hand on a Bible ascending to the Supreme Court for life.