Topic: "Doubting Thomases" (3)
Frodo learned at an early age that mowing the lawn or cleaning the bottom of a swimming pool are two of the only tasks in life in which one can actually see progress being made. Frodo observed that in both instances the results were short-lived. Similar conclusions may be drawn about the activities of two men named Thomas.
Isaiah Thomas was a great basketball player, and smart enough to save some of the millions he made on the front court. After his playing days were over, he had positioned himself properly so that he could invest in the most valuable franchise in the NBA, the New York Knickerbockers. Today he is the face and part-owner of the Knicks, and as such he has become "the man;" one for whom black people toiled for two centuries in the land of Middle Earth. It is inspiring, refreshing, and Frodo feels proud that such achievements are possible.
Clarence Thomas is the 59 year-old Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. The Yale University graduate and former senior government official had served on the bench but a single year when he was picked by President George H. W. Bush. After a contentious set of hearings, he was confirmed and today is the only black American to sit on the highest Court in the land. It is important that such a significant portion of the population of Middle Earth be physically represented in the Judiciary, and it is noteworthy that what was once an assembly of "the man" now also contains those who toiled on his behalf.
With power however, problems, like growing grass or silt in the pool, confront the newly-enfranchised as they did his predecessor. Over the past week, both Messrs. Isaiah and Clarence had to deal with charges of sexual harassment, and to deny those charges publicly. What struck Frodo's imagination about these charges were that they were both complaints from black women. There was a time, not long ago in Middle Earth, when such charges would have been virtually ignored by those in power, since it was assumed that the conduct of black people reflected their inferiority. Frodo, logically, should take pride in the genuine societal interest in the affairs of men and women who just happen to be black, and who now are dealing with the problems of driving the bus.
Frankly, neither of the Thomases seemed too happy. Frodo feels a certain amount of compassion for those who are challenged on the basis of what is either their actual behavior, or what is perceived to be their behavior. It is difficult to walk all of the lines that separate propriety from impropriety when the rules change because of who happens to be in the room at the time. The outcome reflects judgment, not experience. Experience is an expensive teacher; just ask the Thomases.