Civil Rights

To Cite a Mockingbird


Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' autobiography is out. Titled My Grandfather's Son, the memoir goes over Thomas' hotly contested confirmation battle. A snippet from a Wash Post article:

In Thomas's eyes, he is both Richard Wright's tragic Bigger Thomas in "Native Son" and Harper Lee's doomed Tom Robinson in "To Kill a Mockingbird," two of the most powerful portrayals of racial division in American literature. Lee's Pulitzer-Prize winning novel is set in the Deep South of the 1930s and features a courageous white lawyer, Atticus Finch (played in real life by former Sen. John Danforth in Thomas's rendering), who defends a black man falsely accused of raping a white woman.

Post writer Kevin Merida cites Edith Efron's 1992 reason article about Thomas, "Native Son: Why a black supreme court justice has no rights a white man need respect," which was a finalist for a National Magazine Award, the industry's highest honor, and remains an indispensable key to understanding Thomas' mindset (Thomas himself has said as much).

Merida's Wash Post article is online here.

reason's 1987 interview with Thomas, then head of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, here.

Why Thomas is the most interesting sitting justice here.

Thomas as one of reason's 35 Heroes of Freedom here.

Obligatory Long Dong Silver joke here.

And just to get things going: Am I the only one who thinks To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the most overrated books in American literature? It's well-drawn and all that, but its message of racial tolerance was hardly path-breaking in the year of its publication (1960) and its final lapse into the old white trash cliche of incest is really lame.