JULY 2007


Susan Abulhawa, author of THE SCAR OF DAVID, human rights activist and founder of Playgrounds for Palestine will have two book readings and signings on Saturday, July 7 at 2PM in Dallas/Frisco TX and Wednesday, July 11, 7PM at Borders Bookstores in Langhorne PA.  

DALLAS/FRISCO, TX -- THE Bookworm / 3245 Main Street Frisco / Sat. July 7 2PM   (972) 712-1455.  Susan will also be participating in panel discussions/debates to present the realities of Israeli occupation in Palestine.   LANGHORNE PA --- Borders Bookstore / Directions Below /

Wed July 11 7PM  (215) 943-6600   We are proud to announce The Wisconsin Humanities Council will be presenting Susan Abulhawa and THE SCAR OF DAVID at The Wisconsin Book Festival this fall. WBF is one of the top five book festivals in the country, and the nation's largest free event, hosting nearly 20,000 attendees and staging over 100 events.   Please plan to attend a reading near your home. For directions  

Susan Abulhawa - PfP Founder - Upcoming Events for July 2007

Press Release:

May 24, 2007, Bayside, NY -- Barnes and Noble Booksellers of the Bay Terrace Shopping Center hosted author Susan Abulhawa to give a brief talk about her book The Scar of David, which was first published in December, 2006. After the talk attendees brought their copies to her to sign.   Earlier in the day, Ms. Abulhawa had attended a Kingsboro Community College class, whose professor had made the book assigned reading this semester.  According to a Kingsboro College spokesperson, such attendance did not constitute a college-sponsored event.   The originally B scheduled event was to have included a reading from the novel, but Rabbi Bruce Goldwasser of Temple Beth Sholom in Flushing encouraged a call-in and a boycott of the bookstore as intimidation.  He claimed, "It's an historical novel based on made-up stuff. The made-up stuff is that Israelis were forcing the Arabs out of their homes."    Temple Beth Sholom is taking part in the Terror Free Oil campaign of Joe Kaufman, who is the Chairman of Americans Against Hate and CAIR Watch. CAIR is the Committee on American-Islamic Relations, whose "mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding."   The incitement against Ms. Abulhawa and her book started approximately three weeks ago when Queens Jewish Community Council President Jan Fenster and Executive Director Cynthia Zalisky circulated a memorandum throughout the Queens Jewish Community that stated the following.

QJCC values freedom of speech, recognizing that this right is accompanied by responsibility. QJCC does not want to add to the publicity of this book with rallies or newspaper articles/letters to the editor, but suggests a letter writing/phone calling campaign to the Bayside Barnes and Noble stating displeasure with this author's appearance and the lack of balance of Israel's point of view.  The issues of the Middle East are complex and require a thoughtful presentation. If Banes and Noble still wishes to have this woman appear then it behooves them to invite an author that relates Israel's point of view such as Michael Oren or Dore Gold.   Please inform your congregations of this unfair and biased presentation.

According to a Barnes Noble spokeswoman the store received about 15 phone calls a day, many negative, and four Queens rabbis faxed a joint letter of condemnation. CAIR faxed a complaint about the pressure tactics and asked that the scheduled reading take place.   When the Ms. Abulhawa and her literary agent Mark B. Miller arrived, they found that the space for

an audience had been filled with display tables. Between 7:15-7:30 PM as attendees arrived, many police officers stood in front of the building.  One policeman stated that they were taking their lunch break   Mr. Miller told the audience that not everyone is so afraid to address the crimes committed against Palestinians. "The French publisher will release the French version in 2008 on the 60th anniversary of Israel's formation to make sure that the Israeli version is not the only version the public hears."
    Ms. Abulhawa remarked that the central idea of the book was not hers but originates with Palestinian author Ghassan Kanafani, who presented the idea of an Arab child raised as an Israeli Jew in "Return to Haifa." Israeli agents assassinated Kanafani in 1972. Kaiss al-Zubaidi directed a movie version of Kanafani's story. The film was released in 1982.   Ms. Abulhawa's book is a page turner and tear jerker in which the metaphor of the scarred stolen child stands for the theft of Palestine.  Ms. Abulhawa wanted to "show the Palestinian narrative in a human light." She said, "Art is about finding common human ground and making the connections."    
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When asked why CAIR attempted to intervene, she pointed out that she cannot speak for CAIR but noted, "I am a Muslim and a big supporter of CAIR. They are a civil rights group.  They saw a violation."   Ms. Abulhawa told the audience, "Barack Obama gave an abominable cowardly speech to AIPAC. None of the candidates take a moral stance. We fought a civil war against racial subjugation. We should not support that crime in another country. Israel is founded on the concept of entitlement of one people at the direct detriment of another."   Ms. Abulhawa added that the historical backdrop of her novel was accurate, but all of the characters are fictitious even if some of the story like the orphanage chapter was drawn from her experiences.   She said, "My friends cursed me for making them cry so much."  Then she added, "Anytime you humanize Palestinians, you get shut up." But perhaps not this time. Mr. Miller disclosed that a Dutch studio has shown interest in producing a movie based on the book.   Action memorandum from Queens Jewish Community Council, Inc. to organize pressure on Barnes and Noble:

ZNet Commentary
Tom Hayden's War June 04, 2007
By Vijay Prashad

Tom Hayden is a veteran of peace. A pioneer of the anti-war movement in the 1960s (including as one of the Chicago 7), Hayden is now, after a hiatus in California politics in the 1990s, a central figure in the current anti-war movement. His range of experience, both in terms of time spent in the struggle and institutions struggled with and against, make his counsel important. This is why his new book, Ending the War in Iraq (Akashic Books, 2007) should be compulsory reading not only for anti-war activists, but for all Americans who are interested in making something of the country.

Hayden's horizon for this book is that the U. S. needs to withdraw from Iraq. That is a necessary first-step for any progressive agenda. But to engineer the withdrawal, the American public needs to grasp at least three things: (1) that the war and occupation are a fiasco for the interests of the American and Iraqi people, and that they have only exacerbated the insecurity of both; (2) that the Iraqi resistance has a popular base among the majority of the Iraqi people, and therefore it cannot be defeated by a conventional or counter-insurgency military operation without an immense loss of life; (3) the anti-war movement in the U. S. does not march to the tune of a single drummer but it is nonetheless powerful and effective, and has had an honorable lifespan since 2002. Having established these three points in the first three chapters, Hayden then takes us into the fourth, the one which is of great importance: how we, as progressives, as people, can end this war.

Hayden starts his analysis by pointing to the eight pillars of the Bush strategy in Iraq: Iraqi support; American public opinion; American media; Political support; U. S. military capacity; U. S. financial capacity; Moral reputation; U. S. global alliances. He spends a few hundred words showing how each of these works to shore up the Bush strategy, and then offers a few hundred words to show what U. S.-based activists can do to undermine that pillar. Each of these pillars is significant, and he offers very useful methods to deal with them. Two of them, for instance, are already important places where our movement intervenes: at the pillar of U. S. military capacity, the counter-recruitment movement and the anti-contractor campaigns have made and continue to make a significant dent; at the pillar of U. S. financial capacity, the work of the National Priorities Project to unravel the costs of war is central as is the use of this data in localities to point out how, for instance, schools are being under funded to pay for the war.

But there is one pillar that does not get much notice or take much of our effort: the pillar of Iraqi support. It is related to another important pillar, the American media. The American, or to give it its correct name, capitalist media (cap media as it was once called) has effectively blocked off from the U. S. public the erosion of Iraqi public support for the war and occupation. Whereas right after the actual invasion ended in 2003, a substantial number of Iraqis, for whatever reason, claimed to support the new dispensation. Now, 61% of Iraqis support the resistance and two-thirds of the population wants an immediate withdrawal of U. S. troops, regardless of the consequences. These facts are not discussed in the capitalist media, and therefore don't often make it to the tablogoids or the water coolers.

Apart from the facts, there is no sense of the people behind them. The capitalist media does not meet average Iraqis who are part of the 61% and ask them why they support the resistance, what this means for them, and what they would like the Americans to do? Without such stories, the resistance, and so the majority of the Iraqi people, is demonized by the capitalist media, who then feed us a story that the resistance is comprised of ex-Ba'athists, fundamentalists and others who are historical anachronisms.

The activist media needs to refute this picture, and reveal to our public and to our elected representatives that true extent of Iraqi public opinion in depth as much as in these statistics. We need to gather the stories of suffering that constitute the basis for the Iraqi people's opinions.

We must show our public that the U. S. occupation is playing a very dangerous game, of supporting a sectarian government while paying lip service to being against sectarianism. What we have is not a Civil War (which assumes that there are two relatively co-equal parties in conflict within a nation); we have an Occupation taking the side of one political force that wants to inflict damage on other (Sunni, but also secular and secular-nationalist) political forces. The venomous Bernard Lewis approvingly predicted this state of affairs in 1992, "If the central power is sufficiently weakened, there is no real civil society to hold the polity together. The state then disintegrates into a chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties."

Much of the groundwork for the destruction of Iraqi civil society happened during Saddam Hussein regime (1978 on), but the appalling destruction of the Gulf War (1990-1991), the brutal sanctions regime (1990-2003) and the early years of the Occupation (2003-2005) certainly devastated civil capacity. This internecine conflict in Iraq is buttressed by the U. S. military presence, whose support of the Shi'a-alliance contributes to the problem without posing any solution to it. As Hayden points out, if the U. S. public was taken to war through fabrications, it is being stopped from withdrawal by an equal dose of fabrications (that chaos will ensue with the withdrawal, as if chaos is not already Iraq's reality). One of our tasks should be to take the measure of Iraqi public opinion and bring that to the living rooms and streets of the U.S.

The Democratic Congress, despite a spirited move by the Out of Iraq Caucus, could not cut off funding for this unpopular and criminal Occupation. Hayden gives those within Congress who are yet in the fight a very useful way to shift U. S. public opinion. We could, in our localities, "hold hearings on taxpayer funding for Iraqi ministries filled by militias and death squads.

Cutting off all congressional funding will be more palatable when people and politicians fully grasp the dysfunctional, repressive, and sectarian nature of the Iraqi government, and realize that American troops are supporting the Shi'a-Kurdish side in a civil war." This is a very valuable way to bring Iraqi public opinion to the U. S., and thereby to sharpen U. S. public discontent with the Occupation.

Tom Hayden's book is a very useful primer. It needs to be read and to be drawn from. Our movement is powerful, and now it needs to be pointed in the right direction. There are some good signposts in this book.Prashad Tom Hayden's War Jun 04

Book Review by Joachim Martillo (
[Originally published on Monday, Nov 3, 2003 -- republished because of the debate over the proposed UK boycott of Israeli academia]

Even if The Changing Agenda of Israeli Sociology, Theory, Ideology and Identity by Uri Ram is somewhat dated, this book remains useful because it surveys a lot of the important English and Hebrew sociological literature about the State of Israel. Non-Hebrew readers can thus gain some access to otherwise inaccessible scholarship.  Because Zionist censorship for the most part controls US public discourse, the ability to cite genuine Hebrew sources can protect against attempts to silence discussion by means of accusations of anti-Semitism.(*)

I now understand more why so many Israeli sociologists write history books and articles. So much of Zionist social activity connects to various (mostly false) conceptions of Jewish history that Israeli sociologists need to develop a historical perspective in order to do sociological research.

Because Uri Ram is a post-Zionist, he tries hard not to act as a Zionist propagandist.  He is aware of the complete fabrication of modern Zionist identity. If I am not mistaken, his earliest important work describes how Ben-Zion Dinur and colleagues created the educational system in the 1950s that constructed the Zionist national consciousness first among Israeli Jews and then among American Ashkenazim.

Before this propagandization, normal Rabbinic Hebrew terminology describes the Jewish community with phrases like klal yisrael, the community of Israel.  Thanks to the efforts of the Zionist educational establishment, ha`am hayyehudi (the Jewish nation or people in the Central and Eastern European voelkisch racist sense) has gradually replaced klal yisrael or similar idioms in popular usage and in the dominant consciousness of Israeli Jews, Ashkenazi Americans, non-Jewish Americans and many Europeans.  While Ram even correctly labels the 1967 Israeli aggression as a preventive war and not as a preemptive war, he like all other Israel-trained sociologists occasionally shows the effects of the indoctrination of the Zionist educational system.

Even though this relatively short book (207 pages) is quite lucid in comparison with sociological papers, the text is probably tough reading for the non-sociologist. The first chapters that discuss the initially dominant functional school of sociology are probably the hardest, but they contain useful information. In particular, the discussion supports the contention that Israeli academia does not constitute a system of higher learning in any real sense but plays the role of a system of higher propaganda.  The material in these chapters provides support for the boycott of Israeli academics because they are mostly not scholars but serve Zionist aggression and racism on the intellectual front.

The chapter on the sociology of elitism identifies the intellectual origins of the Israeli polity in Eastern Europe and bolsters the contention that Israel is a formal democracy that combines characteristics of interbellum Poland and other Eastern European states of that time period with aspects of the Soviet organizational model.  Americans often have difficulty grasping this point that Israel is only an apparent democracy because they are unfamiliar with Eastern European pseudodemocratic posturing.

The reader must approach some of the material in the discussion of elitism cum grano salis because Yonatan Shapiro, the creator of the Israeli sociology of elitism, was himself an unrepentant Labor Zionist and consciously or unconsciously confused the distinct ideologies of Fascism and Nazism.  Shapiro has no problem identifying the authoritarian nature of Herut (Begin's) politics but is blind to the Leninist authoritarian style of the politics of Labor and its predecessors even though Ben-Gurion and most of the founders of Ahdut ha`Avodah were open and frank admirers of Leninist political techniques.  Shapiro's prejudices make it difficult for him to understand of the fall of Labor from power in 1977 or to relate it to similar developments in Eastern Europe.

The following comment (p. 72) in the chapter on elitism has qualified relevance to the politics of family values in the USA: "As for the role of 'values,' Shapiro insists that they are mere derivatives of strategic interests and instruments of domination, which cannot in themselves explain much about any social structure."

Sami Smooha introduced the school of pluralism to Israeli sociology. I have not read much of his work, but if Ram describes it correctly, Smooha was daring by the standards of Israeli academia. Yet Zionist indoctrination has distorted his work, for he appears to view the accidentally fabricated Mizrahi (oriental Jewish) identity as comparable to Eastern European Ashkenazi ethnic identity.

Shlomo Swirski introduced the Marxist perspective to Israeli sociology, but if Ram's description is accurate, he has not read much of Katznelson's, Arlosoroff's or Jabotinsky's writings, for he is unable to identify Labor Zionism as fascist and fails to perceive the abstract Nazism in Revisionism (Jabotinskian or Likud ideology). Swirski needs to investigate more about the behavior of Zionists in the pre-State period toward `edothammizrah (oriental communities).

The actions of pre-State Ashkenazi Zionists toward those few Oriental Jews, who wanted to assist the Zionist movement, shows that Ashkenazi Zionists had no genuine interest in Jewish Arabs or Persians and only worked to bring them to Israel when they realized

1) that there were not enough Ashkenazi settler-colonists to hold Palestine and

2) that the Zionist state needed a class of native collaborators as raw manpower and cannon fodder.

Swirski believes that Israel needs a "second" Mizrahi Zionist revolution to achieve social equality.  The point of view looks confused to me but was so offensive to the Israeli establishment that Swirski was driven from the Israeli university system.  He is probably better off.

The discussion of Israeli sociologists of feminism is interesting, but these researchers apparently do not know enough about Eastern European Ashkenazi gender roles or relations to provide much useful information about gender-related developments either among Israeli Jews or among American Ashkenazim

Nordau's concept of Muskeljudentum, which is superficially a call for Jews to be come athletic but at a deeper level proposes to remake Judaism into a religion or ideology of conquest and violence, is probably a direct reaction to the traditional Central and Eastern European perception of Ashkenazi males as weak and effeminate. The gratuitous violence that the IDF commits on all Palestinians as well as the gross vulgarity of IDF soldiers toward Palestinian women and girls is probably a form of psychological compensation for historic European attitudes toward Ashkenazi males.

In Ram's book, the best comes last.  The Israeli sociology of colonization is closest to the reality of the State of Israel and Zionist crimes against the native population.  Colonization sociologists have developed some interesting euphemisms and linguistic distinctions, but to their credit they have made more progress in bringing their analysis into public discussion than comparable American academic investigators and researchers of Israel have achieved.

I liked the phraseology on page 176.

"The Israeli economy is unique in that it does not rest either on a profit economy or on the accumulation of debt, but rather on unilateral capital transfers.  This enables the Israeli ruling bureaucracy to maintain an enormous military establishment and simultaneously to guarantee a reasonable standard of living to the population."

I would have bluntly stated that Israel has no genuine economy but serves purely as a racist Jewish garrison colony in the Middle East for its colonial motherland, the USA.

Either formulation suggests the following obvious questions.

1. What possible reason could Israeli leaders have to work toward a reasonable modus vivendiwith Palestinians? And

2. what possible reason could Neoconservatives have to work for the stabilization of the ME?

If there were no conflict over Palestine and if the Middle East became stable, the US-to-Israel capital transfers, which are directly or indirectly the major source of funds for the Zionist and Neoconservative leaderships, would end, for the American political leadership would no longer be able to justify the massive US economic support of the State of Israel.

Israeli colonization sociologists are unfamiliar with the Czarist colonization enterprise in the Caucasus and Southwest Asia although it provides the template for Zionist efforts in Palestine (think Chechnya).  These researchers also seem to lack an understanding of the collectivist nature of traditional Eastern European culture and in particular of traditional Eastern European Ashkenazi culture.

Israeli sociologists have generally failed to relate modern Israeli culture (and modern Ashkenazi American culture) to traditional ethnic Ashkenazi culture because they are so entranced both by Zionist sloganeering for the negation of the Diaspora and also by Zionist myth of a single Jewish Volk -- even those researchers like Ram, who intellectually know that `am yehudi is purely a Zionist nationalist construct.

The book itself provides inadvertent evidence that the traditional Eastern European Ashkenazi social mechanisms for the control of deviance are still operative (albeit weakened) among Israeli Jews just as they continue to exist among Ashkenazi Americans.  Even though Ram is oblivious to the obvious need for a unified sociology of traditional Eastern European Ashkenazi culture in its Eastern European context and of the evolution of this culture both in the American and Israeli context, reading his book is well worth the effort, for gaining an understanding of the historical and current flawed state of Israeli sociology helps the reader to understand the Zionist enterprise and provides him with much data necessary to inform the American public of the truth and to combat Zionist propagandists in the USA.

(*) Zionist control of public discussion in the USA about Israel is particularly obvious in the current murderous IDF rampage.  I have yet to see any English media source connect the ongoing killing of Palestinians with the accusations of corruption against Sharon and his family.  When Israeli leaders run afoul of the law or into trouble at the polls, they invariably order the IDF to slaughter Arabs as a distraction because killing Arabs is very popular with Israeli Zionists as Israeli polls have shown since the 1950s. Yet, no hint of the connection of Israeli domestic politics to Israeli murder of Palestinians appears anywhere in the US media.

Thomas Agonistes



The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas
By Kevin Merida and Michael A. Fletcher.
Illustrated. 422 pp. Doubleday. $26.95.

After all the twisted racial history of the United States Supreme Court, Clarence Thomas was confirmed by the Senate with the smallest margin of victory in more than 100 years, with little professional scrutiny and with a level of manipulative political rancor that diminished everyone directly involved. The effect on Thomas, we learn from this impeccably researched and probing biography, was to reinforce the chronic contradictions with which he has long lived.

Thus, although he seriously believes that his extremely conservative legal opinions are in the best interests of African-Americans, and yearns to be respected by them, he is arguably one of the most viscerally despised people in black America. It is incontestable that he has benefited from affirmative action at critical moments in his life, yet he denounces the policy and has persuaded himself that it played little part in his success. He berates disadvantaged people who view themselves as victims of racism and preaches an austere individualism, yet harbors self-pitying feelings of resentment and anger at his own experiences of racism. His ardent defense of states’ rights would have required him to uphold Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law, not to mention segregated education, yet he lives with a white wife in Virginia. He is said to dislike light-skinned blacks, yet he is the legal guardian of a biracial child, the son of one of his numerous poor relatives. He frequently preaches the virtues of honesty and truthfulness, yet there is now little doubt that he lied repeatedly during his confirmation hearings — not only about his pornophilia and bawdy humor but, more important, about his legal views and familiarity with cases like Roe v. Wade.

Kevin Merida and Michael A. Fletcher conducted hundreds of interviews with Thomas’s friends, relatives and colleagues for “Supreme Discomfort,” in addition to doing extensive archival research. Although Thomas refused to be interviewed, this was not a serious handicap, given his vast paper and video trail and his volubility about his feelings. The authors superbly deconstruct Thomas’s multiple narratives of critical life-events — the accounts vary depending on his audience — and it says much for their intellectual integrity that though they are clearly critical of their subject, their presentation allows readers to make their own judgments. Thomas is examined through the prism of race because, they argue, “that is the prism through which Thomas often views himself,” and their main argument is that “he is in constant struggle with his racial identity — twisting, churning, sometimes hiding from it, but never denying it, even when he’s defiant about it.”

The first third of the book assiduously assembles the shards of his life from his birth in Pin Point, Ga., to his nomination to the Supreme Court by President George H. W. Bush in 1991, and it casts new light on the social and psychological context in which Thomas fashioned himself. Pin Point, where he spent his first six years, comes as close to a scene of rural desolation as is possible in an advanced society. This is black life in the rural South at its bleakest, in which the best hope of the law-abiding is a job at the old crab-picking factory. It is in this sociological nightmare that a 6-year-old boy, by some miracle of human agency, discovers the path to survival through absorption in books. Born to a teenage mother, abandoned by his father when he was a year old, plunged into the even more frightening poverty of the Savannah ghetto, Thomas, along with his brother, was eventually rescued by his grandparents.

Thomas has made a paragon of his maternal grandfather, Myers Anderson, an illiterate man who, through superhuman effort, native intelligence and upright living, was able to provide a fair degree of security for his family. Anderson cared deeply for the downtrodden, and the hard turn in Thomas’s adult individualism cannot be attributed to him. Indeed, it turns out that the man Thomas reveres disapproved strongly of his conservative politics.

Three other important forces shaped Thomas. In addition to white racism, he suffered the color prejudice of lighter-complexioned blacks. This dimension of black life has been so played down with the rise of identity politics that it comes as a shock to find a black person of the civil rights generation who feels he was severely scarred by it. Thomas says that growing up, he was teased mercilessly because his hair, complexion and features were too “Negroid” and that his schoolyard nickname was “ABC: America’s Blackest Child.” The authors seem inclined to believe contemporaries of Thomas who claim that he exaggerates and has confused class prejudice with color prejudice, as if class prejudice were any less execrable. On this, I’m inclined to believe Thomas, although, given where he now sits, the wife he sleeps with, the child he has custody of and the company he keeps, it might be time to get over it.

But Thomas bears the scars of yet another black prejudice: not only was he too black, he was also culturally too backcountry. Coastal Georgia is one of the few areas in America where a genuinely Afro-English creole — Gullah — is used, and Thomas grew up speaking it. In Savannah he was repeatedly mocked for his “Geechee” accent and was so traumatized by this that he developed the habit of simply listening when in public. That experience, Thomas claims, helps explain his mysterious silence on the Supreme Court during oral arguments. This seems a stretch, since Thomas is now an eloquent public speaker and an engaging conversationalist who, like most educated Southerners north of home, erased his accent long ago.

Another revealing aspect of Thomas’s upbringing is his difficult relationship with women. He is now reconciled with his mother, but for much of his life he resented and disapproved of her. She, in turn, acknowledges that she preferred his more compassionate brother, who died in 2000. The event that most angered the black community was Thomas’s public rebuke of his sister for being on welfare. The person most responsible for adopting and raising him was his step-grandmother, yet it is his grandfather, who initially spurned him and had abandoned Thomas’s own mother, who gets all the credit. His first career choice was to be a Roman Catholic priest, and he actually spent a year in a seminary, presumably anticipating a vow of chastity. For all his bawdy humor, he was extremely awkward with women, and his bookishness did not help. This hints, perhaps, at one source of his later troubles.

Up to the point of Thomas’s confirmation hearings, this book is a finely drawn portrait that surpasses all previous attempts to understand him. The remainder of the work is more wide-angled. Merida and Fletcher, who are journalists at The Washington Post, take us through the tumultuous hearings, then examine Thomas’s career and personal life up to the present: his complete embrace by the extreme right (he is a friend of Rush Limbaugh’s); his performance on the court; his relationship with Antonin Scalia, an ideological ally who some people think heavily influences Thomas’s thinking; and his secluded private life. We learn interesting things about him — for example, the stark contrast between his sometimes unfeeling legal opinions and his often compassionate personal relationships; the fact that he has quietly facilitated the confirmation of very liberal black judges, often to their amazement; and that he is probably the most accessible of the justices and enjoys the admiration and abiding loyalty of his clerks.

The treatment of Thomas’s legal doctrine, however, is pedestrian. Whatever one’s reservations about his “originalist” philosophy — notoriously, he has held that beating a prisoner is not unconstitutional punishment because it would not have appeared cruel and unusual to the framers — recent evaluations of his opinions by scholars like Henry Mark Holzer and Scott Douglas Gerber indicate that they should be taken seriously. Well, by lawyers anyway. We have also gone beyond the question of “who lied” in our assessment of the hearings. Of greater import would have been a critical examination of the bruising politics behind these hearings, the way both sides manipulated Thomas and Anita Hill, and the questionable ethics and strategic blunder of the left in focusing on Thomas’s sexuality, given America’s malignant racial history on this subject, instead of on his suspect qualifications for the job.

Nonetheless, the book remains invaluable for any understanding of the court’s most controversial figure. It persuasively makes the case that “the problem of color is a mantle” Thomas “yearns to shed, even as he clings to it.” In doing so, it brilliantly illuminates not only Thomas but his turbulent times, the burden of race in 20th-century America, and one man’s painful and unsettling struggle, along with his changing nation’s, to be relieved of it.

Orlando Patterson is a professor of sociology at Harvard and the author of “The Ordeal of Integration: Progress and Resentment in America’s ‘Racial’ Crisis.”[TheBlackList] Orlando Patterson Reviews Clarence Thomas Book



Dorothy West (1907-1998)

Dorothy West. the child of Rachel Pease Benson and Isaac Christopher
Westt, a freed slave and successful businessman that owned a wholesale
fruit company and became known as the "Black Banana King" of Boston.

West's formal education began at age two under the tutelage of Bessie
Trotter, sister of Monroe Nathan Trotter, editor of the Boston Guardian.
As a result, West was capable of doing work well ahead of her age and
grade level when she entered the Farragut School at age four. West wrote
her first story, "Promise and Fulfillment," which was published in the
Boston Globe at age seven. She completed her elementary education at
Matin School in Boston's Mission District. In 1923, West graduated from
the Girl's Latin High School and continued her education at Boston
University and the Columbia University School of Journalism.

In 1926, her story "The Typewriter" tied for second place with a story by
Zora Neale Hurston in a contest sponsored by the New York–based
Opportunity, the National Urban League journal. After attending the
awards dinner in New York City, West decided to move to Harlem, where she
became part of the Harlem Renaissance. Because of her youth, West was
nicknamed "The Kid."

In 1927, West' small role in the original stage production of Porgy made
possible her trip to London with the production company. During the
1930's, she was involved with producing Black and White, a documentary
about racism in various cultures. The film's production entailed
traveling to the Soviet Union. While the film was not completed, West
extended her visit for another year.

On returning to New York in 1934, West founded Challenge, a literary
magazine that published works by many writers on a wide range of social
and political issues. She co-founded New Challenge in 1937. Only one
issue was published, but the magazine reflected West's increasing interest
in class issues and the struggles of black people. West's magazines were
among the first to provide a venue for black American literature.
Unfortunately, her efforts lacked financial support and both magazines
quickly folded.

In 1940, West landed a job writing for the New York Daily News. She was
among the first black American women to receive a byline in a large
publication. West also worked as an investigator for the New York City
welfare department before joining the Federal Writers Project of the Works
in Progress Administration (WPA) until it ended in the mid-1940s. West
continued to write, publishing several short stories, including "Hannah
Byde," "An Unimportant Man," "Prologue to a Life," and "The Black Dress,"
during this period. She was also a frequent contributor to The Saturday
Evening Quill.

After the Federal Writers Project closed, West moved to Martha's Vineyard,
where she wrote for the Martha's Vineyard Gazette and completed her first
novel, "The Living Is Easy" (1948), a semi-autobiographical novel that
critically explores racism and class-consciousness among black Boston's
bourgeoisie. West also published a collection of essays "The Richer, The
Poorer: Stories, Sketches and Reminiscences" in 1994.

While she began her second novel, The Wedding, in the 1960s, West did not
complete it until after her Doubleday editor and Martha's Vineyard
neighbor Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis encouraged her to do so. Similar to
her earlier novel and many of her short stories, which dealt with the
"white racism echoed in black society's obsession with gradations of skin
color and the possibility of ‘passing,' The Wedding (1995) examines issues
of race and class among upper-middle class black Americans in the Martha's
Vineyard community of Oak Bluffs. The Wedding was adapted for television
by Oprah Winfrey; it starred Halle Berry.

Dorothy West died August 16, 1998. She never married nor had children.
(Sources:, and DISH Vol. 10 No 22