The Triumph of Clarence Thomas and the slandering of Anita Hill was the triumph of democracy. By democracy here we mean the system that rules America today - the system where the majority get a chance to rephrase the orders issued by the system. Every position the TV mentioned in the Thomas confirmation debates served a faction of the rulers.
Clarence Thomas is a black man who has gotten to the top of the ruling class by mouthing conservative slogans that, among other things, are thinly veiled calls to keep most blacks on the lowest rungs of this society.
During his quest for approval as supreme court justice, the liberals of the US Senate supposedly did their best to slander this man. These senators could not denounce him as a hollow, unprincipled criminal riding to the top on borrowed, shoddy ideology. They are the same. Every senator today mouths the slogans put in their mouths by their demographers and corporate lobbyists.
Still, information damaging to this man's public image could be easily be found. It seems Thomas sexually harassed all of his female underlings during the period when he served as chair of the US Equal Opportunities Commission and one was brought in to testify against him.
But since the ruling consensus favored Judge Thomas, it was easy for the voice of television to summarily dismiss Anita Hill for daring to even bring this up.
The American public was thus treated to a televised circus of lies and misdirection. Anita Hill was handed her revenge by the pre-existing balance of forces in the Senate with no real fight taking place. The "dirty tricks" used by Bush were no more and no less than what could have been expected. The Thomas/Hill hearings were a replay of the set-up when a senate subcommittee allowed Oliver North to speak at length in uniform. Every committee member knew that he was, among other things, impersonating an officer since he was no longer in the services. The "adversarial liberal" committee members were thus party to manufacturing his cardboard hero image; as they did their part in the ruling class agreement to limit the "Iran-Contra" scandal.
The most absurd slanders were thrown at professor Hill. The claim that she made up her story using pornographic novels was silly and the claim that she was crazy was simply made up. But the media let the Senators throw these things at her.
Liberal senators put up a limp fight at best, selling Thomas' confirmation for some considerations or other. Spy magazine wrote that Joseph Biden and Charles Grasley were threatened with race-baiting editorials and electoral advertisement but there's likely another story behind this also.
The Thomas hearings were signs of our time. That is, they had one lie packed inside another. The feminist commentators who complain about the lack of justice here are as confused the spectators who passively watched the hearings.
No one can claim that what happened is new or unfair by itself. The whole game is well known. Regardless of how inflammatory the senate's treatment of professor Hill and women in general was, we must remember the first law of television. "Television does not make anyone do anything. It only forms passive opinions." This law derives from the condition of television. Rather than being the beginning of "simulated reality," television is right now a true reality for the mind/body. But it is exactly an experience of body carriage dissociation. The neck and back slump. The mind and body are detached. The attention wanders through different stimuli without being able to react.
No one should be surprise that the television audience accepted the treatment of Anita Hill. Watching television at all means that you accept the reality it projects. The narrow eye of television was easily capable of making the audience only think about certain possibilities. Like Milli-Vanilli, Anita Hill became just another star victim.
Fab and Rob of Milli Vanilli were two image creators condemned as imposters after they won a grammy for songs that they had no hand in making. But they did little different than the many rock stars such as Paula Abdul who works with a computer voice processor changing the characteristics of her voice entirely. The point of having these unfortunate characters not sing on "their" album had little to do with their singing abilities. Their imposture gave their producer the power to show them up at any time they rebelled. Puppets benefit a puppet master.
This system naturally creates star victims like Rob, Fab or Anita Hill. The world of the media feels totally false. Those who waste their lives just watching TV are very ready to tear up whatever is shown them. But the cheated feeling most people get winds-up being vented on a media-chosen victim. Unconscious misery can be focused in any direction the media chooses.
The star victim is the perfect target, since they can be set up by the media using true events as the backdrop. The subjective feelings of the viewers are all that matter here and the attention of a passive viewer can easily be pointed in a calculated direction. This allows the producers, directors and behind the scenes image makes to manipulated the famous in any direction they want.
Fab and Rob had their fate sealed when they accepted their only chance fame - in the Milli Vanilli production process. Anita Hill and the Kennedy rape victim were each slandered in the only forum they were given to tell their side of the stories.
Star victim is the main role given to women and minorities within the all-powerful stage show of today's society. The star victim ideally represents the real victims needed by this society. Some black pop stars, a society woman, a black boxer and a black woman college professor were the latest of these victims - a mix that combined hatred of the rich and powerful with sexism and racism. The hatred is brewed specially to create admiration for the successful rapists of this society. The paper quoted one woman fan of Mr. Kennedy-Smith as saying "she knew she wanted to have sex with when she into that house..."
Star victims are a distorted representation of the continuous victimization of most people in real life. Anita Hill and the woman referred to as the "Kennedy rape victim" were elevated to celebrity status simply so that they could receive this treatment.
It doesn't matter which way the battle goes. It doesn't really matter who the real good guys are. If Mike Tyson goes to prison for rape while William Kennedy Smith gets off, the message is clear. All of the characters we see in the media are shoddy enough that we feel contempt for whichever one winds up going down. The media focuses our attention and thus our rage. This is how the spectacle enforces the dividing up of the oppressed.
A passive spectator is just as eager to see Tyson go down as the "Kennedy Rape Victim." (This is the wonderful appeal of professional sports.)
This was all accomplished using the truth and democracy. After the various recent public trials, media experts have been crowing about how effective they are in gaining acceptance for the authorities' decisions. "Everyone" saw the dramas and the victory trumpeted by the media was that women did not rise up and string up newscasters on telephone poles.
The star-victim scheme is characteristic of all the manipulations that hide the total system from questioning. With polls and elections, the average person can passively participate in national decisions; in choosing issues, stars, and hit songs. But an opaque wall of lies separates these decisions from the order of our daily lives. Most average people have no time to consider all the ways a "national consensus" becomes the change in the behavior of the cops on the corner.
Before Anita Hill was given the media bird, some feminist labor relations experts got a small media spot-light. They said the Thomas hearings' focus on sexual harassment would give women some power to fight back against it.
Lobbying won't make the courts enforce lawsuits against sexual harassment. Just as official civil rights did nothing for Rodney King when he was pulled over by the cops, legalities of the work place count for little in most workplaces.
Being a worker subjects anyone to continuous harassment of many sorts. In America's patriarchal society, sexual harassment is standard fare. But it is virtually impossible for a working class woman to sue her boss.
In a high level of the federal bureaucracy, maybe a woman could prove her boss didn't follow the correct procedure if he fired her for not sleeping with him. But if a woman is fired for telling her boss to buzz off at a deli, she couldn't prove he was acting any differently than when he fired anyone else for any other arbitrary reason.
Mass media, pluralism, propaganda, the public's need to know and democracy are all only variations on each other. You cannot attribute the gross, shabby actions of today to a deformed system. This is a system that works very well.
We are in a period of wholesale defeat for all working people today. The defeat is a result of workers letting the government choose their reforms for them. From social security and welfare to anti-discrimination legislation, the government has chosen a terrain where one victim can be played against another.
The tears of those who felt pulled different ways by the supreme court nomination of an ultra-conservative black man merely revealed the shoddy reasoning that has permeated "affirmative action."
Like most reforms done by the Federal Government, affirmative action was designed to irritate and annoy all those who did not immediately benefit. The system still holds most women and minorities back while affirmative action promotes a few tokens to position where they are vulnerable to counter-attack.