June 26, 2003

Dowd and Out

I know they pay her to be as controversial as she is opinionated, but this verbal spit in the face of Justice Clarence Thomas must truly be a new low for Maureen Dowd. I'll have Taranto tell it.

This from James Taranto's Best of the Web Today, Wed. 6/25. (I'm posting this segment in full)

With Extreme Prejudice--II We were skeptical last month when New York Times columnist Bob Herbert suggested that antiblack racism is prevalent at his newspaper. But on today's op-ed page appears powerful evidence that Herbert may have been on to something. Maureen Dowd weighs in on Monday's U.S. Supreme Court decision in Grutter v. Bollinger, which upheld the use of racial preferences at the University of Michigan Law School.

Dowd has not a word to say about Justice Sandra Day O'Connor's majority opinion, or about the dissenting opinions of Chief Justice William Rehnquist and Justices Anthony Kennedy and Antonin Scalia. She concentrates on the dissent by Justice Clarence Thomas. She doesn't grapple with his arguments, quoting a mere 35 words from the decision, of which 27 are from a Frederick Douglass quote Thomas used. Instead, Dowd simply throws racial slurs at Thomas, who is black:

What a cunning man Clarence Thomas is.

He knew that he could not make a powerful legal argument against racial preferences, given the fact that he got into Yale Law School and got picked for the Supreme Court thanks to his race.

So he made a powerful psychological argument against what the British call "positive discrimination," known here as affirmative action. . . .

The dissent is a clinical study of a man who has been driven barking mad by the beneficial treatment he has received.

It's poignant, really. It makes him crazy that people think he is where he is because of his race, but he is where he is because of his race. . . . Maybe he is disgusted with his own great historic ingratitude.

Dowd pretends as if there's no substance to Thomas's argument--she labels his dissent a "therapeutic outburst"--yet she unwittingly illustrates the truth of one of his arguments, namely that racial preferences stigmatize blacks, whether or not they relied on them for advancement. As Thomas puts it:

When blacks take positions in the highest places of government, industry, or academia, it is an open question today whether their skin color played a part in their advancement. The question itself is the stigma--because either racial discrimination did play a role, in which case the person may be deemed "otherwise unqualified," or it did not, in which case asking the question itself unfairly marks those blacks who would succeed without discrimination.

Clarence Thomas graduated from Yale Law School in 1974. Twenty-nine years later, after a distinguished career as a public servant, he is ridiculed in the pages of one of America's more influential newspapers by a colleague who presumes that he was unqualified to gain admission on the merits.

What about Justice Scalia, who joined Justice Thomas's dissent? Is he "barking mad" too? Dowd doesn't say. But then, Scalia is white.

As you read the quotes from Maureen Dowd, ask yourself how those same words would be received if spoken by other, random people...or about other, random people, say, Thurgood Marshall?

Now, I don't know Maureen Dowd personally, so I don't know what she's really like under that snarky, self-satisfied, nasty, smug, elitist bitch exterior. But these words are despicable, even if from,... or especially when from, a national opinion columnist.

My question is this. Will reasonable people on both the left and right denounce her, and/or perhaps suggest she go the way of Jayson Blair? Perhaps the Trent Lott Formula would work. Shame, humiliation, demotion, ridicule. Works for me. Won't it be interesting to find out what the "voice from the left" will say about Maureen Dowd?

UPDATE: Predictable silence from the left, but Eugene Volokh has a take that reminds us that Thomas job is to determine constitutionality, not to express "gratitude".

UPDATE: Sullivan's blurb on the Dowd column.

Posted by dan at June 26, 2003 12:16 AM