October 2, 2007

Anita Hill all over again

Looking back, 1991-1995 seems like one of those eras (such as the late 1960s or 1917-1920) when America was undergoing a national nervous breakdown. Nothing symbolizes the free-floating hysteria of the era better than the vast brouhaha that erupted in October 1991 over Anita Hill's charges that Clarence Thomas ... uh ... well, it's hard to remember precisely what it was that so obsessed the nation at the time, but the essence of her complaint was that he had implied, in so many words, that he was a man and she was a woman.

This led to The Year of the Woman (as the media declared the 1992 election year to be) that Bill and Hillary Clinton surfed into the White House. Which was pretty funny, considering what ol' Bill had been up to down in Arkansas, but nobody got the joke at the time. (I must say, though, that I did write an article in December 1992, "A Specter Is Haunting the Clinton Presidency," forecasting that the incoming Clinton Administration would be put in mortal peril by a sexual harassment charge made by an Arkansas state employee. But nobody would publish it.)

If only Clarence had married Anita instead of that white woman, all this might have been avoided!

Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.

At the time, I thought the craziness of the era was related to the recently completed war, just as WWI unleashed a lot of nuttiness. But, in retrospect, it seems more directly to be CNN's fault.

Before Desert Storm, so few people watched CNN that the Ricola cough drop company was able to use its tiny ad budget to buy a huge number of spots on CNN for its commercial of three Swissmen in lederhosen on top of an alp blowing giant Swiss horns. By the time the war was over, however, all of America not only had heard of Ricola cough drops but were heartily sick of the thought of them.

The war in Jan-Feb 1991 alerted people to the fact that there was this cable channel that broadcast news 24 hours per day. People started glancing at the TV news all day long. Of course, once the war was over, there really wasn't anything all that important to fill the vast 24 hour news hole, but they had to put something on, so why not testimony about various scandals? It was pretty close to free. And the public assumed that because it was on TV all the time, it had to be important.

The Golden Age of Cable News lasted from Anita Hill to the OJ Simpson trial in 1995, after which people started to realize that they were wasting their time.

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wasn't Ted "Chapaquidick" Kennedy sitting in judgment during the whole of the proceedings? It just goes to show a policy of leaving no witnesses is the key to a successful political career. Although Clinton recovered well enough despite having to be president to Ireland, the UN, the Middle East, etc because he was pretty much lame duck at home due to the scandal of it all.

Gee, Steve, I thought you would've still been in high school in 1992. Perhaps you graduated a few years early after skipping some grades?

Anonymous said...

I was about 10 at the time. What exactly was the Anita Hill case about? She even has an op-ed in the NY Times.

David said...

The pattern you describe in reference to CNN and the early 90s has been replicated - in lower, more farcical form - by Fox "News" and the five years post 9-11, albeit somewhat elaborated and then broken by the internet. Is the threat level still "Orange"?

I remember the early 90s for the reason that I, a White man entering my profession, was rejected by several potential employers (private sector) on explicitly racial grounds. One told me in an unguarded moment: "You're the wrong color." Not good years.

Anonymous said...

Steve- love the blog and am constantly amazed by what you know. For instance, the Ricola bit...how do you know they spent their entire ad budget on commercials on CNN...where do you find that info? Dan

simon newman said...

"a policy of leaving no witnesses is the key to a successful political career"

I was going to post that Clinton's apparently not murdering any of his liaisons indicated a high moral standard by Washington DC standards, but I guess there's a price for everything.

Sweating Through fog said...

Bill Clinton was accused of taking actions; The worst that Clarence Thomas was accused of was saying mean things.

The ridiculous state of sexual harassment laws is characterized by privilege number 21 in my "Female Privileges List"
---
21. I can get real nasty when someone makes me mad, and call them ugly, a loser, a nerd, a geek, a disgusting creep, a revolting little worm, a worthless piece of garbage, a scum bag, a wimp, a pervert, a jerk-off, an old fart, or a fat slob. After all, I have the right not to be treated meanly at work, and the right not to hear harsh things that might make me uncomfortable. I have legal recourse if that right is not respected, and I have the right to make this perfectly clear on my job interview.
---

I put this list together to counter the "Male Privilege Checklist" that feminists circulate to teach clueless men how easy that have it.

I have the full list on my blog.

Ian Lewis said...

I dont know how many people caught it, but Clarence Thomas gave a fairly interesting interview to 60 Minutes this last Sunday. In it, he said that he believed that the ENTIRE Anita Hill brouhaha was over Abortion.

One other answer he gave was abut being a "House Nigga" to the Right Wing because he does not "do enough" for Blacks. His reply, "When was the last time you asked Scalia how much he does for Italians?" (Paraphrasing). I thought that was a good answer.

James Kabala said...

I don't think Thomas's alleged actions against Hill, although a little grosser than you let on (remember "Long Dong Silver" and a certain incident involving a Coke can?), merited rejection by the Senate even if they were true. If they were true, however, it bothers me that Thomas might have lied under oath. I supported removing a President from office over sex-related perjury, and I would expect an even higher standard from a Supreme Court justice. I think he probably was innocent, however - why would he bring this issue up again after all these years if he is guilty?

Anonymous said...

You're the only pundit I've heard of who's successfully predicted a major political crisis years in advance. Why aren't you working for the New York Times?

intellectual pariah

Anonymous said...

"If only Clarence had married Anita instead of that white woman, all this might have been avoided!"

I was just a kid when all this happened, but as an adult, I did wonder whether his wife being white played a part.

I don't think it would have mattered anyway. Thomas is right, it's about abortion and traditionalism. Bork had just been borked before him. Something would have been trumped up.

The book roll-out has made me think much about how this thing led to the Bill Clinton impeachment (your letter to AmSpec is so golden and fits the timeline so perfectly; it had to play a role). All the rancor and hatred is the inevitable result of the war between two very different philosophies. Also, there is no doubt in my mind that for the extreme liberals, importing impoverished people who will gladly turn a blind eye to immorality is a way of replenishing their ranks. This "war" touches everything.

tggp said...

You've talked about the Great Sixties Freakout. What happened from 1917-1920?

Ron Guhname said...

Using General Social Survey data, I showed that 90% of very liberal women say they have been sexually harassed, while EIGHT percent of very conservative females say the same thing. Lesson: if you're a man, avoid liberal women like a virus.

http://inductivist.blogspot.com/2006/05/social-construction-of-sexual.html

Anonymous said...

If they were true, however, it bothers me that Thomas might have lied under oath. I supported removing a President from office over sex-related perjury, and I would expect an even higher standard from a Supreme Court justice

Remember, Clinton was charged not only w/ perjury in a court of law (maybe roughly equivalent, ethically, to perjury in front of the Senate) but also obstruction of justice and suborning perjury.

Anonymous said...

classic isteve...

Anonymous said...

Anyone who has encountered a Womyn's Studies professor on a jihad, an affirmative action one at that, should know to heavily discount anything she says.

The sad thing is these poor lost souls actually believe the fairy tales they spin or at least justify them as means towards a greater good. Thank goodness the field today is marginalized to the few truely angry, maladjusted, (unfortunately) greviously abused and opportunitistic pot-banging women who cannot or chose to reject the norms of decent civil society.

Colin said...

a certain incident involving a Coke can

I remember Chris Rock's take on that. He didn't believe it, because "People, any guy can tell you about what come-on lines work, when was the last time that one ever worked?"

green mamba said...

Thank you for illuminating that strange brief era. At the time I was just getting out of college, where I had been subjected to the full p.c. treatment but was not yet fully equipped to reject it.

Lee Phillips said...

I still don't know who was telling the truth in 1991, but after reading Professor Hill's op-ed I find myself leaning toward the Justice and away from the Professor.