Justice Clarence Thomas, being African American, is seen as a traitor to the woke cause.
After the overturning of Roe v Wade, Justice Clarence Thomas has been a particular target of venomous attack from the woke mob. Why do they hate him so much? One might be forgiven for thinking that it is due to his staunch anti-abortion views. But that explanation does not work.
Pope Francis has long expressed that opposing abortion is “closely linked to the defense of each and every other human right”, and yet, the Left is not obsessed with him (in fact, many even take a liking). At some point, even Joe Biden supported letting States overturn Roe v Wade, and again, the Left did not go ballistic on him.
Not behaving as expected
So, why the animus against Thomas? There can only be one explanation: race. In 1991, as he was accused of sexually harassing Anita Hill, Thomas countered that he was the victim of “a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks who in any way deign to think for themselves, to do for themselves, to have different ideas, and it is a message that unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you.”
This was loose talk, as it trivialised the suffering of real lynching victims in America’s troubled history of race relations. But Thomas did have a point in arguing that in the United States, any black person who dares to deviate from the official narrative of how blacks are supposed to act, will face severe harassment.
In 1991, he anticipated a trend that would become mainstream in our times: if you are born with a particular skin colour, you are supposed to behave in a certain way, and uphold a specific ideology. If not, you are a race traitor. As Biden so neatly phrased it:
“[I]f you have a problem figuring out whether you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
Any competent scholar of the history of racism would immediately recognise this as race essentialism. As Angelo Corlett explains in his book Race, Racism and Reparations,
“proponents of race essentialism define human races by a set of genetic or cultural traits shared by all members of a ‘racial’ group.”
Who are the neo-Nazis now?
In the first half of the 20th Century, this view was popular amongst proponents of so-called “racial science”. They believed that racial biological traits determine how people behave. Hitler believed that no matter how much a person with Jewish ancestry tried to assimilate to German society (even converting to another religion), he or she would still be a dangerous Jew, because it was in his or her essence.
Race essentialism is abhorrent, and one might think that after 1945, the world learned a lesson. And yet, race essentialism is alive and kicking, but this time, under the guise of woke progressivism. As per today’s woke rules, if you are black, you must embrace the whole woke mindset.
White people (such as Pope Francis) may occasionally be forgiven for having anti-abortion views, but if you are black and you deviate from the woke line (such as Clarence Thomas), you are a race traitor, an Uncle Tom. Unsurprisingly, Thomas has been called “Uncle Clarence” multiple times.
If you are black, not only do you have to act a certain way, but you must also have a special sexual preference. The woke pay lip service to interracial relationships, but amongst them there is a sense of unease when they contemplate a successful black man marrying a white woman.
For example, when Thomas was nominated to the Supreme Court of the United States, USA Today columnist Barbara Reynolds wrote: “Here’s a man who’s going to decide crucial issues for the country and he has already said no to blacks; he has already said if he can’t paint himself white he’ll think white and marry a white woman.” Russell Adams, chairman of African American studies at Howard University, said that Thomas “marrying a white woman is a sign of his rejection of the black community.”
Frantz Fanon is a figure beloved by the Left. In 1952, he published Black Skin, White Masks, a canonical text of wokeness. In that book, he also scorns black men who fall in love with white women. Fanon castigates himself for, at some point, having had these thoughts: “Out of the blackest part of my soul, across the zebra striping of my mind, surges this desire to be suddenly white. I wish to be acknowledged not as black but as white… I marry white culture, white beauty, white whiteness.” The implication of this passage is that loving a white woman is an act of racial treason.
Fanon felt disdain for black people who embraced Western values. He claimed they were wearing white masks, as if somehow, they were deviating from their real essence, and were therefore living an inauthentic life. Therefore — so Fanon believed — Western civilisation must be rejected entirely. As he explained in The Wretched of the Earth, “When the colonized hear a speech on Western culture, they draw their machetes or at least check to see they are close to hand.” He who admires Western values is a sellout.
Ever since Fanon, racial essentialism in the name of progress has only grown worse. People of color are now encouraged not to honour punctuality, because being on time is part of whiteness. Black kids who are academically talented run the risk of being told they are “acting white”. Analysing things objectively is an act of white supremacy. And so on.
Consequently, Clarence Thomas is not allowed to have anti-abortion views. Nobody cares about his anti-abortion arguments, because he is not supposed to make them in the first place. Other jurists, philosophers or theologians will be allowed to oppose abortion, but only if they are white. Thomas is hated not because of his views, but because of his skin colour. He upsets the arbitrary racial classifications that the woke are so eager to embrace.
As per woke taxonomy, black people cannot be conservative, and if they are, they are only wearing a “white mask”. To paraphrase the late Christopher Hitchens, “identity politics poisons everything”. We can no longer have a meaningful discussion about anything as vital as the ontological status of a fetus, because the race of the discussants will determine who is allowed to uphold a particular view. It’s time to push back against this madness.
Gabriel Andrade is a university professor originally from Venezuela. He writes about politics, philosophy, history, religion and psychology. More by Gabriel Andrade
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