[Editor’s Note: This is a fascinating interview that goes a long way to explaining the conservatism of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. He has been seen as an enigma by the left, but it also appears the right has not understood him properly either. Those on the far, far right might be surprised to find how much he agrees with them. — Mark L. Taylor]
On The Media / WNYC (11/8/19)
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is hardly the quietest member of the bench. In hundreds of opinions authored during his tenure — longer than any of his present colleagues’ — Thomas has elaborated upon a vision first instilled in him by a stern, business-minded grandfather and later cemented during a turbulent undergraduate education, spent protesting racial injustice, debating black nationalist principles, and memorizing passages of Malcolm X. And despite a deliberate post-college turn toward capitalism and political futilitarianism, his original comprehensive view of America persists: our national government is incapable of bettering the lives of black Americans, just as white Americans are forever incapable of dismantling their own racism.
Still, Thomas remains baffling to some — an enigma, as some senators put it during his confirmation hearings more than twenty years ago. A new analysis of Thomas’s biography and jurisprudence by author and political scientist Corey Robin, The Enigma of Clarence Thomas, leaves no room for confusion. In this segment, Brooke speaks with Robin about Thomas’s views on criminal justice, affirmative action, capitalism, racial equality, and ultimately the fate of the nation.
This is a segment from our November 8, 2019 program, Curiouser and Curiouser.
CUNY Book Beat: Penetrating ‘The Enigma of Clarence Thomas’
Book Beat (11/7/19)
CUNY’s Corey Robin–one of the foremost liberal thinkers on American conservatism–set out to decipher the puzzle of Clarence Thomas: How did a young black nationalist grow up to be the most extreme right-wing justice on the Supreme Court–and without abandoning the core ideas that once animated him as a radical leftist? In his illuminating new book, The Enigma of Clarence Thomas, Robin explores the provocative answers he found when he put Thomas’s 28-year record of judicial opinions in the context of his uniquely personal vision of race.
The New York Times said The Enigma of Clarence Thomas is “rigorous yet readable, frequently startling yet eminently persuasive…it isn’t every day that reading about ideas can be both so gratifying and unsettling, and Robin’s incisive and superbly argued book has made me think again.” Robin is also the author of The Reactionary Mind, which The New Yorker called “the book that predicted Trump.”