CultureWatch

Bill Muehlenberg's commentary on issues of the day...

A review of The Real Anita Hill: The Untold Story. By David Brock.

Jun 4, 1994

Free Press, 1993.

American President Bill Clinton is currently charged with a sexual harassment suit by a 27-year-old Arkansas woman. Ms Paula Jones claims that in May 1991, then-Governor Clinton made sexual advances to her while attending a conference. The startling point about this story is not the charge itself – Clinton has been alleged to have been involved in a number of sexual improprieties over the years – but the fact that the American media has all but ignored the story.

This stands in marked contrast to the charges made by Anita Hill, which were covered the same day they were uttered, by The Washington Post and other top papers. In the Jones case, the charges have been around for months, but the nation’s top newspapers have been dragging their feet in getting the story out. Political Correctness, in other words, is at work here. The left/liberal press does not want to spoil its ongoing honeymoon with America’s first left/ liberal President in over a decade.

The dilemma for the feminists is especially fascinating to observe. Their hatred of conservative Republicans like Reagan and Bush, and their hatred of conservative Supreme Court nominees like Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas, united them in an all out war in the Hill/ Thomas affair.

“The sisterhood has to stand together on issues of sexual harassment,” they said. All men accused of sexual impropriety are guilty until proven innocent in the eyes of the feminists.

Yet now, a woman is accusing the President of sexual harassment and the feminists are strangely silent. Given that there is much more evidence to support the claims of Jones than there was for Hill, this is a glaring inconsistency indeed.

It is interesting therefore to read David Brock’s story about Anita Hill. His book makes it clear that the feminist and Political Correctness lobbies pretty well determine what is proper thinking and behaviour in the public arena in America today.

But more alarming, these lobbies are changing the face of American jurisprudence, where the rights of the accused are being undermined. Indeed, feminist lawyers and law professors are rewriting the books on legal theory. The standard of evidence is being lowered by these feminists to such a point that legal presumption now favours the accuser.

One feminist law professor who advised Hill even denied the distinction between sex crimes and consensual relations: “Feminism stresses the indistinguishability of prostitution, marriage, and sexual harassment”. In this view, all men are seen as rapists, and, therefore, it does not matter whether Hill actually proved her case against Thomas or not.

As Hill herself put it in campus lectures, “women should be supported regardless of proof”. And proof is exactly what was lacking in Hill’s case, as this book makes plain. The political inquisition which developed was a disgrace.

The point is, Thomas’ character had already been extensively examined in detail by no less than five FBI background checks and four Senate confirmations during his thirteen-year career in Washington. But politicians, feminists and others used this affair, not just to stop Thomas, but to push the radical agenda of sexual politics. The case provided a chance for everyone to become aware of male sexual oppression, and the feminists exploited the case to the full.

The results were impressive. For example, while only some 6,000 cases of sexual harassment were reported in the year before the Hill episode, nearly 11,000 were filed the following year. The propaganda war heated up tremendously. Hill was soon touring most of the nation’s campuses – garnering $12,000 an appearance-pushing the feminist line with a vengeance. In 1992 alone, Hill received over $100,000 in speaking fees and awards. In contrast, Judge Thomas was hounded by protesters, and was often forced to cancel speaking engagements. The feminist storm troopers had left their mark.

The media’s handling of the affair was equally appalling. “Once news of the charges broke, the media treated the Thomas-Hill scandal as a national referendum on sexual harassment rather than as a story about whether sexual harassment had been committed in this instance.”

Despite the lack of evidence, the media had already tried and sentenced Thomas. Yet as Brock’s painstaking investigation makes clear, the “weight of evidence is such that no reasonable person could believe that sexual harassment occurred in this case.”

In the end, the Thomas nomination was confirmed by a vote of 52-48. But the lasting damage done to his reputation, and to the overall relations between men and women – not to mention the damage to the American legal system – may never be overcome.

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