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.