Anita Hill: The Truth Hurt
Re Patricia J. Williams’s “Twenty Years Later… We Still Believe Anita Hill” [Oct. 24]: we believe Anita Hill because she was telling the truth. The debacle surrounding her personal trials, along with the gross abuse of power shown by those sitting on the bench, are the legacy of the right wing of the current Court, eroding respect not only for their Court but for all courts—and, sadly, for the rule of law in this country.
Marina del Rey, Calif.
It has always seemed strange to me that in all the enraged talk about how the Senate Judiciary Committee savaged Anita Hill, nobody ever mentions who chaired that committee and allowed that to happen. It was none other than our esteemed vice president, Joe Biden. He is, in fact, the one most responsible for Hill’s shabby treatment and for Thomas’s confirmation. The Democrats had a majority in the Senate and could have blocked that appointment. Biden not only allowed that travesty; he voted for Thomas’s confirmation. So you can stop complaining that the Republicans gave us Clarence Thomas.
In 1991, as a young twentysomething, I landed a job in investment banking and was grateful for the break. I soon found myself in the surreal situation of being chased around the desk, literally, by my boss, while Anita Hill’s testimony played in the background. I complained to no one and deflected his advances. I dreaded travel for work because of the inevitable grope. I invented social plans so I could find my own ride after meetings. I thought it horribly unfair that because of his behavior, I could be marked as a troublemaker, or worse: “Did she or didn’t she?” Meanwhile my boss derided Hill; if it was true, he said, why did she wait until now to speak up?
If the subject of Anita Hill’s credibility ever comes up, I tell my story. I can imagine if my tormentor had remained an influence in my career how the stakes would have kept getting higher. I too would have kept quiet. However, if he were someday to verge on such a position of influence as Supreme Court justice, I knew I would be compelled to speak out—no matter how many years had passed. I am grateful to Anita Hill; I have defended her story with my own. Unfortunately, like so many pioneers, she took a bullet. As a young lawyer, she may have dreamed of one day sitting on the Supreme Court herself, not of being the subject of my “Anita Hill moment.”
When America Didn’t Need to ‘Occupy’
My family lost their Kansas farm during the Great Depression. As tenant farmers, my parents lived with indebtedness until 1943, finally recovering from depression, dust, storms, grasshopper plagues and severe drought. Does the present government have any understanding of the anguish people go through when they lose their homes, their farms, their livelihoods? It does not seem so.
In the early ’30s we had a president who gave us hope. In our little town of 600, federal assistance made it possible to construct an entire municipal sewer system to replace hundreds of unsanitary outdoor privies, while hiring dozens over an extended period. This resulted in jobs for carpenters and plumbers too. Some dozen women, including my widowed aunt (with four children), were employed in the “sewing room” making overalls and shirts for those who could not afford to buy them. My aunt was also the recipient of “commodities”—rice, grapefruit, canned meat, peanut butter, cornmeal and prunes. An older brother, a cousin and many other young men enrolled in the CCC and constructed a county lake, still in recreational use today. Another brother and cousin, both in high school, were paid to help elementary teachers grade papers. My father and other tenant farmers were hired to repair a bridge.