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“I Demand That You Apologize For Being Treated Inappropriately By My Huband”

[ 46 ] October 20, 2010 |

This is remarkable:

Nearly 20 years after Anita Hill accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment during his contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Justice Thomas’s wife has called Ms. Hill, seeking an apology.

In a voice mail message left at 7:31 a.m. on Oct. 9, a Saturday, Virginia Thomas asked her husband’s former aide-turned-adversary to make amends. Ms. Hill played the recording, from her voice mail at Brandeis University, for The New York Times.

“Good morning Anita Hill, it’s Ginni Thomas,” it said. “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.”

Ms. Thomas went on: “So give it some thought. And certainly pray about this and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did. O.K., have a good day.”

Ms. Hill, in an interview, said she had kept the message for nearly a week trying to decide whether the caller really was Ms. Thomas or a prankster. Unsure, she said, she decided to turn it over to the Brandeis campus police with a request to convey it the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

“I thought it was certainly inappropriate,” Ms. Hill said. “It came in at 7:30 a.m. on my office phone from somebody I didn’t know, and she is asking for an apology. It was not invited. There was no background for it.”

In a statement conveyed through a publicist, Ms. Thomas confirmed leaving the message, which she portrayed as a peacemaking gesture. She did not explain its timing.

“I did place a call to Ms. Hill at her office extending an olive branch to her after all these years, in hopes that we could ultimately get past what happened so long ago,” she said. “That offer still stands. I would be very happy to meet and talk with her if she would be willing to do the same. Certainly no offense was ever intended.”

In response to Ms. Thomas’s statement, Ms. Hill said that she had testified truthfully about her experiences with the future Justice Thomas and that she had nothing to apologize for.

“I appreciate that no offense was intended, but she can’t ask for an apology without suggesting that I did something wrong, and that is offensive,” Ms. Hill said.

What’s perhaps most remarkable is that Ginni Thomas has been pickled for so long in the winger echo chamber that she seemed to take for granted that everyone, including the woman her husband treated inappropriately, would share her conviction that her husband was a victim subject to some kind of gross injustice. When she says that she was extending an olive branch to Hill, she probably believes it. Hill, as always, deserves immense respect for her strength and dignity, and her response was perfect.

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Comments (46)

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  1. David Sucher says:

    Yes it is a remarkable story and the only conclusion I can come to (I tend to give people the benefit of the doubt) is that she had been drinking, one of those maudlin moods which most everyone has. So she calls, attempting to open communication, and leaves a voice mail (voice mail for something of this gravity?!!) She might have started to be good intention but poorly thought-through. And then doesn’t quite get the message right because she opens up by asking Ms. Hill to apologize.

    So as to intent — “reach across the airwaves” — may be a start but style and substance just a no go; it’s very sad.

    • Lisa says:

      She was drinking at 7:30 am (when Hill says the call came in)? That’s pretty sad indeed.

      • Warren Terra says:

        I agree that the 7:30 AM time doesn’t seem to fit with drunkenness, but it’s a weird time to call in any case. I wouldn’t call someone before at the very least 9 unless I knew their schedule very well; and if she knew she was calling an office line it’s even weirder.

        But then the whole episode just sounds unhinged – which may not be surprising, given that her husband published a memoir three years ago, absent main thing mentioned in reviews and the main feature of the book tour interviews was that Clarence Thomas is a bitter, twisted man, still seething over the hitches in his coronation and suffused with contempt for liberals and for poor and afflicted black folks – like the parents of the nephew he adopted.

    • norbizness says:

      “When Keepin’ it Real Goes Horribly Wrong.”

  2. McKingford says:

    In the spirit of the modern day (faux) apology, I suggest something along the lines of “I’m sorry you married a lecherous perjurer with an infantile understanding of the constitution!”

  3. Joseph Nobles says:

    No, I think Mrs. Thomas needed a nice controversy to include in the next fundraising letter for her right-wing welfare organization. “I reached out to give Ms. Hill one more chance to redeem herself, just in case her fear of Clarence and me not being strong enough Christians to forgive her was holding her back from asking, and how I was treated! Send money so we can continue to fight against the Kenyan’s Supreme Court nominees…”

  4. Barbara says:

    7:30 does not seem to fit with drunkenness, but it does fit with insomnia, i.e., person awake since 4 AM and ruminating about the ways the world has done her wrong. Regardless, it is bizarre. I am sure though that anyone who questions the propriety of this call is engaged in a new version of a high tech lynching.

    • Alex says:

      For an accomplished drunk, 7:30 am on Saturday is right in the wheelhouse. Because they’re passed out by 8 the night before and back up at 6 with a still healthy BAC and in need of a few drinks to take the edge off.

  5. Bart says:

    Pickled in the echo chamber sounds about right. I’ll bet this woman’s social circle coddles her and allows no exposure to other views.

  6. Oscar Leroy says:

    I wonder if she asked Mrs. Scalia what to say before making that call.

  7. mike in dc says:

    There seems to be more than a little speculation in the blogosphere that another shoe may be dropping soon, as in some new allegations against Justice Thomas. Who can say. Still bizarre.

  8. jsmdlawyer says:

    Whatever else it is, Virginia Thomas’ bizarre behavior reeks of serious mental health issues: narcissistic, delusional, self-pitying, probably depressed. I guess a long-term marriage to Clarence will eventually take its toll.

  9. Quercus says:

    Talk about sore winners! Geez.

  10. DrDick says:

    Yet another example of Republicans creating their own reality. They really have earned their own entry in the DSM-IV.

    • larryb33 says:

      Sheesh, checked out this story at the WSJ and the comments seemed to be running 2 to 1 in favor of Ginni. WTF?
      In related Republican reality denying news…WSJ commenters up in arms about the reopening of the Cameron Todd Willingham case in Texas.

  11. jsmdlawyer says:

    Actually, upon further reflection, this reminds me of when Dick Cheney shot that guy in the face, and the guy ended up apologizing to Cheney!

    It’s right out of the Republican playbook. The more powerful person ALWAYS gets the apology.

    Helps to explain why “class warfare” means being mean to rich people for having the nerve to suggest raising their taxes to help ease the worst recession in three generations.

  12. DocAmazing says:

    I’m waiting to see who Robert Bork’s wife calls.

  13. Alex says:

    This is beyond weird.

    Anita Hill was subpoenaed by the Congress of the United States and compelled to testify under oath and penalty of perjury.

    She wasn’t trying to advance any agenda, and clearly didn’t want to be testifying before Congress. She later said that she considered Thomas’s conduct in specific instances to have been crude and unprofessional, she did not think it constituted sexual harassment because it was not pervasive to the point of creating a hostile environment.

    So Ms. Thomas is in essence demanding that Ms. Hill apologize for complying with a subpoena issued by the Congress and testifying when forced to do so.

  14. Davis says:

    Delusions of grandeur. She wants to magnanimously forgive Anita Hill after Hill kisses her ring. Disgusting.

  15. anniecat45 says:

    So Ginni Thomas says she wants to “ultimately get past what happened so long ago.”?

    No kidding, long ago — it was 20 years, and Clarence Thomas was confirmed on the Supreme Court.

    And he and his wife still can’t get past it?

    that’s the sickest part, to me.

  16. genjirama says:

    Meanwhile, bottom-feeders like Volokh-Conspiracy’s David Bernstein find Hill’s behavior in forwarding the crazy phone message to campus security “strange”.

    • PhoenixRising says:

      Well, it IS strange if you live in a version of reality where your response to that message is to take it at face value–a request to apologize for complying with a subpeona and follow the ethical expectations for your profession.

      The rest of us probably had the same reaction that Ms. Hill describes: This must have been a prank, and whoever did it needs their sense of humor adjusted because it’s not funny.

      After the dildo-boat episode, and the Shirley Sherrod debacle, and the ACORN “tapes”, no one could blame her for assuming this was more in that genre.

  17. Xenocrates says:

    I’d like Mrs. Thomas to “…consider something.” Does she really think it appropriate for the wife of an associate justice of the United States Supreme Court to make this type of phone call? Is it really appropriate for her to be running a partisan organization? I guess it’s the same old answer….IOKIYAAR. Screw these people…and yes, her husband is a disgusting, mysogynistic prat. There will be NO apology forthcoming for that one.

    • DrDick says:

      I think you should apologize for being to generous in your characterization since you never even mentioned incompetent and grossly unqualified for his position.

  18. Ed says:

    In Mrs. T’s defense, God only knows what lies her loving hubby has told her about nutty vindictive Anita. An impossible situation for a devoted wife and I can understand why she would choose to believe her husband. I can also understand why she might not be over it, especially living with bitter clinger Clarence.

    Even so, this phone call is hopelessly weird.

  19. fleeting expletive says:

    My thought is that Mrs. Thomas is both seeking attention for her tea party organization and also fund-raising material, but may also suspect her husband is fooling around/harassing other women and would like to bring this all back. A divorce in the next year wouldn’t surprise me.

    When he was confirmed in spite of Anita Hill’s testimony, I thought then that harassers don’t just offend one time–there’s always a pattern there, and I suspected that in time he’d mess with some clerk or secretary and it would become known.

  20. CJR says:

    At the gym I couldn’t help but notice that Fox News was spinning this as abuse of emergency services by Anita Hill.

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