Thomas flap shows small-mindedness



The Clarence Thomas controversy has taken this community by storm. It just points out how divided blacks are, and how much hate there is for one among us who dares to be different.

Blacks talk about diversity and how important it is to value differences. This is all I heard at Savannah River Site. Yet we are the last ones to put this concept into practice. We still think and act as if we are a monolithic group of people. We do not allow freedom of thought or speech different from the prevailing views of the so-called leaders in the community.

Recently in the media, well-known blacks in Augusta spoke out against Justice Thomas being the keynote speaker at the dedication ceremony of the new court facility next spring in honor of the late Judge Jack Ruffin. These blacks indicated that they were protecting Judge Ruffin's legacy, which was in direct opposition to Justice Thomas' judicial philosophy.

I do not see where having Justice Thomas speak at the ceremony is a threat to the legacy of Judge Ruffin. In fact, I think it would do more for the legacy than having anyone else, outside of the president, speak at this occasion. Both Thomas and Ruffin reached the pinnacle of their respected positions in government.

What I do see, though, from these so-called leaders, is small-mindedness and selfishness. I see a lack of diversity. I see people who want to stay stuck in the past. I see bitterness and an unforgiving spirit. I also see people who think that their absence from the ceremony will be a positive thing, which is absurd.

It is one thing to disagree with Justice Thomas' court decisions, but another thing to hold him in utter contempt, disrespect and disdain. In fact, it is downright childish. And if this is how Judge Ruffin felt about Justice Thomas, he, too, was just as small-minded as those who are now speaking up for him.

But I cannot believe that a man who had risen as high as Judge Ruffin had in the legal profession could have had the attitude his friends said he had concerning Justice Thomas -- or anybody, for that matter. That is a sign of immaturity.

These people who say they speak for Ruffin enjoy the status quo and do not want to move forward. They are stuck in the past and will do everything they can to keep the rest of us there. Misery loves company.

But in spite of their rants, let us move forward and take advantage of the diversity this country affords -- even the right to be different and not devalued for that difference.

Grady Abrams