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What Was She Thinking? Virginia Thomas's Strange Call to Anita Hill

By October 20, 2010

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What would prompt the wife of a prominent man accused of sexual harassment to stir the ashes of an old controversy and reignite a divisive scandal 19 years after the accusations surfaced? And to place a call to the accuser at 7:30 am on a Saturday morning, pushing for an apology?

Anyone who's been in a marriage knows this kind of behavior doesn't come out of the blue. Something must have triggered the wife -- either in her professional or personal life -- to behave in a way that qualifies as very odd. Who among us would voluntarily re-air our dirty laundry?

But if something did happen between Virginia Thomas and her husband Clarence, we'll never know.

If you haven't already figured it out, the husband in question is Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas -- infamously accused by former employee Anita Hill of inappropriate behavior including discussions of pornography and the size of his member. The scandal, which almost derailed his Supreme Court nomination, is still the most famous "he said, she said" situation in which neither party prevailed nor firmly convinced the American public of what really happened. Many women believe strongly that Hill spoke the truth and Thomas lied about what happened when she worked for him at the Department of Education and the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission.

For those of us who watched the hearings conducted by an all-male committee, it was a frustrating, cringe-worthy moment in American politics. We could see the men simply did not 'get it.' Sexual harassment, formerly a topic that garnered little attention, moved front and center and led to a national dialogue that moved us forward; many workplace policies in existence today are rooted in the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings. That's the good news.

The bad news? The scandal has never been resolved in a manner that might put it to rest.

Three years ago this month, Thomas published his memoir My Grandfather's Son which revisited the Senate hearings and reopened old wounds all over again. Hill, now a professor at Brandeis University, rebutted his version of the story in an op-ed piece published by the New York Times.

Virginia Thomas's decision to awaken the proverbial sleeping dogs is intriguing for many reasons. Could there be a political motivation related to the upcoming midterm elections? Mrs. Thomas isn't merely "Mrs. Thomas." As reported by Newser.com last March, she is a prominent Tea Party supporter:

Spurred by the "hard-left agenda" of President Obama, the conservative justice's wife of 23 years recently founded Liberty Central Inc., a Tea Party-linked nonprofit that will lobby on behalf of conservative "core principles."

While there are no rules binding the partisan activities of justices' spouses, reports the LA Times, Ginni Thomas is nevertheless headed onto an uncharted, possibly slippery slope. "I really don't know because we've never seen it," says one law expert. Thomas is undeterred: "I adore all the new citizen patriots who are rising up across this country," Thomas told CPAC. "I have felt called to the front lines with you, with my fellow citizens, to preserve what made America great."

Apparently Ginni Thomas has also felt called to look backwards and harass Anita Hill with a phone call that -- due to the time of day it was placed and its odd language, excerpted below -- made Hill think it was a prank:

Good morning, Anita Hill, it's Ginni Thomas....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. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. Okay have a good day.

Hill contacted Brandeis campus security which in turn contacted the FBI. And that hoped-for apology? Hill says the call was inappropriate and she will not apologize because she was telling the truth. Virginia Thomas says she didn't intend to harass Hill and was merely "extending an olive branch."

In this "she said, she said" situation, who's got a firmer grip on the truth? Is this a sincere attempt to resolve an old conflict, or a calculated political ploy? Or did Virginia Thomas temporarily lose it and act on an impulse she's now deeply regretting? What was she thinking, and why did she do it?

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Comments

October 20, 2010 at 1:15 pm
(1) Martha Z. Martinez says:

What would you expect from a Tea Party member?
Trying to stir things up, as usual. But she is too dumb to realize that this hurts her husband’s career, unless she is having issues w/him now!

October 20, 2010 at 1:17 pm
(2) whiteknyght says:

Maybe just tired of picking up those stray cans of coca cola.

October 20, 2010 at 2:09 pm
(3) gerald says:

Virginia Thomas should be asked why she still is married to a sex pervert?

October 20, 2010 at 2:30 pm
(4) Veronica says:

Oh, my goodness. What in the hell is this woman THINKING? First, Virginia Thomas accused Anita of being “probably in love with her husband” in a “People” magazine article and now this? Virginia, no way in hell will Anita apologize to you OR your perverted husband for what he did. If anything, both of you should apologize to Anita–for being arrogant, deceitful, and classless human beings.

October 20, 2010 at 2:38 pm
(5) Cathy says:

It is amazing to me that the women married to these predators seem to have the same characteristics as the “Men” they are married to! The language she used was very degrading and meant to intimidate.
I just love that instead of realizing what she is married to it is easier to make a villain out of the victim. If any of these women had an ounce, of the strength, it takes to tell the truth and stand up for what is right they would not be married to the controlling dominating predators that their husbands are. Thank you Anita for being a role model to women everywhere and bringing attention to the fact that it is not okay to be treated less than or to be made uncomfortable.

October 20, 2010 at 8:41 pm
(6) E.P. says:

I think Ms. Thomas need hormones or anti-psychotics. Controversial week for her, 1st leading the tea party war on Health Care, and now harassing Ms. Anita Hill. Makes you wonder what in the hey is going on in the Thomas household!

October 20, 2010 at 10:27 pm
(7) OhNoBaby says:

Bitch what?

October 21, 2010 at 9:00 am
(8) AnitaSupporter says:

Anita, I am with you 100%. I experienced sexual harassment in the 80′s and the physician who initiated it made my life a living hell. You made a difference for women. You are my hero and your testimony has brought significant change. A physician who consistently pawed me became chief of staff. I left hospital nursing because the good old boy club tried to make it my fault, of course. I consistently told him to leave me alone and STOP it in front of anyone I could find. He literally picked me up one day. I had enough and told him I was going to tell his pregnant wife. I was instantly demoted and banished from Intensive Care even though I was the ONLY RN with Intensive Care CCRN credentials. Clarence Thomas’s wife owes YOU an apology along with her lying husband.

October 21, 2010 at 4:49 pm
(9) F. Moreno says:

Virginia Thomas’ awkward and poorly written message to Anita Hill was not only very insulting to Ms. Hill, but a thinly-veiled stunt to get publicity for her platform just before the mid-term elections. Why else would she act in a stupid and moronic manner?

I think it’s disgraceful for a wife of a sitting Supreme Court justice to behave in this type of unprofessional and misguided conduct. She is obviously seeking the lime light and will do anything to advance her cause.

Ms. Hill was absolutely correct to refuse to apologize for telling the truth about being sexually harassed by Ms. Thomas’ husband. The hearings were unjust and Ms. Hill did not get the justice she deserved.

October 21, 2010 at 6:37 pm
(10) Will McReynolds says:

Incredible. Usually I would not bother reading this nonsense, however it is so strange and has so many possible facets. Mrs. Thomas has a political agenda, but to dredge up a twenty year old beef that will only make her look like a solid morning drunk?

October 22, 2010 at 10:43 am
(11) whiteknyght says:

and this just in… from an ex-girlfriend of Thomas’ back in the day.

http://gawker.com/5670493/supreme-court-justice-clarence-thomas-was-obsessed-with-porn-says-his-ex

October 22, 2010 at 11:55 pm
(12) JillSmythe says:

I just want to say – good for Virginia – The TEA PARTY! Good Work! Before I heard about the Tea Party, I was shocked to recently read a report that every Democrat nominee since 1984 went to law school (although Gore did not graduate). Every Democrat vice presidential nominee since 1976, except for Lloyd Bentsen, went to law school. Also, leaders of the Democrat Party in Congress: Harry Reid is a lawyer. Nancy Pelosi is a lawyer. No wonder there is always a lot of talk and payouts coming out of the Whitehouse these days. The Government cannot be run like a bunch of lawyers in a courtroom. In the future, I am going to be sure to check out the qualifications of the candidates running for office long before I go to the polls. And the job of US President is a 4 year dedication of hard work, not a game in which the winner gets to be “King of the Hill.” So I say bravo Virginia Thomas, and to Anita Hill too! They are very brave women, they have to be. I think Virgina is doing a good thing. I think Anita Hill did a good thing.

October 23, 2010 at 4:51 am
(13) Veronica says:

JillSmythe, you’re getting off the subject here. This is about the audacity of a Supreme Court justice’s wife asking for an apology from a woman who was WRONGED by a lying pervert. But as is so typical of you Republicans, you choose to focus on the Democrats, whom you want to kick out of Washington because they are–oh my God!–lawyers. I guess you want our legislators to have no brains, like, say, a certain Tea Party pusher named Palin, a certain Tea Party puppet named O’Donnell (who wouldn’t know the First Amendment if it came up and bit her in the butt), and a certain former president named Bush.

October 24, 2010 at 2:52 am
(14) womensissues says:

Lawyers often get a bad rap but their extensive educational background trains them to think logically and approach an issue from various sides. It’s interesting that in every other profession, the person who gets hired is the one who brings a relevant educational background, the most experience, and the most compatible skill set to the job. But when it comes to politics, we the voters function as employers, choosing potential hires; yet we seem to disregard experience and are unfortunately drawn to “people like us.” This is a bias that the workplace tries hard to prevent from happening, because it does not lead to a good selection process in hiring employees. Would you choose a physician, attorney, electrician or plumber because she/he was “just like me”? No, you’d choose the most competent one. So why approach politicians any differently? Skills, experience, and education matter.

October 27, 2010 at 1:53 am
(15) Partytonone says:

Two words: Desperate liberals. Sheesish! (roll of the eyes)

October 27, 2010 at 3:29 pm
(16) sussi says:

Clarence Thomas could not get a classy pretty black woman so he settled for and ugly cow of a white woman. Hey, Ginni I would be mad too!!!

October 27, 2010 at 4:36 pm
(17) maryam says:

Linda, I saw this last week – and even I thought it could have been a prank! Most of us old enough to remember the Clarence Thomas hearings recall it as a time when the Senate’s “oleboys” club wanted to keep 12 feet of distance from Anita Hill who was introducing “sexual harassement in the workplace” to the American vernacular in the most public of ways. She was never refuted to a believable degree. Many of us came away from the hearrings understanding that in fact, Thomas had harassed Hill, but that he would be confirmed anyway b/c “that’s just the way things are”. Ginni must have snortled her way through the last 20 years because the manner in which her hubbie squeeked by a senate confirmation vote may no longer be “the way things are”. Today, I dare say, if the same theatre were to play out on the senate floor Mr. Thomas wouldn’t come away so triumphant – and smug enough to have his wife publicly ask his credible acuser for an apology. The notion that the wife of Clarence Thomas believes that her husband was the one that was wronged and deserved an apology, versus the other way around is incredulous to me. Are we in America? Does Ginni Thomas read??

October 27, 2010 at 9:04 pm
(18) Carla Griffith-Willis says:

Ginni Thomas and the other conservatives are a bunch of racist nuts. Every time I hear the term conserative I cringe. These people cry about things being the way they use to be, taxed enough or down home Christians are far from what they claim. The 1950′s were not great for the Americans going to back doors or being drafted to fight for a country where their civil rights were violated. There is nothing Christian about inequality. I am a conserative, yet I believe that God granted each individual the free will to choose how he or she will live their own life , and answer to Him for their choices. Taxes are necessary for funding state and federal endeavors. I am conserative in that I believe the message in the Word of God. I can however, sift the truths from the culture that it is embeded. For all those who claim to be conserative find out what the word really means.

October 28, 2010 at 3:01 pm
(19) Carl Setzer says:

Virginia Thomas’ message along with her other book-ending comment of “she was probably in love with my husband” shows that this woman is in a seriously protracted state of denial.

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