In congratulating himself on upholding Cleveland's school voucher program, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas quoted the great abolitionist Frederick Douglass, who said, "Education ... means emancipation. It means light and liberty. It means the uplifting of the soul of man into the glorious light of truth."
In congratulating themselves for leading the push for vouchers, Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire and House majority leader Dick Armey wrote in a guest column in the Washington Post: "The Supreme Court, with its decision on school vouchers, has liberated some of our country's poorest children." Gregg and Armey wrote, "We think Frederick Douglass ... said it best: "Education ... means emancipation..."
Emancipation! Liberation! It is a testament to our freedom of speech to see this trio transform the lion-maned Douglass into their personal teddy bear. Thomas has played the lapdog in helping the Rehnquist court roll back civil rights. Gregg voted in the House against the federal Martin Luther King holiday in 1983 and opposed a paid Monday Holiday for King in New Hampshire.
Armey is perhaps the most absurd person to suddenly embrace black and brown folks and Douglass. In 1984, the former college professor called Black Studies "pure junk" and "crib courses." In a 1995 appearance on "Face the Nation," Armey called for an end to all affirmative action programs.
Since then he has led the charge in the House to kill affirmative action in the purchasing of radio and television stations and has spearheaded efforts to have the federal government copy the California proposition that ended affirmative action there. He laughed off President Clinton's trip to a burned-out church during the rash of arsons in the South as a "photo op." In 1997, one of his aides said American should "put the brakes on multiculturalism" because immigrants exist in a "cultural ghetto."