Horatio Schnorrer?

The New York Times was eating ProPublica’s dust after all its SCOTUS scoops. That changed yesterday with a story about the links between Justice Thomas and the Horatio Alger Association. I was only dimly aware that such a group existed. You learn something new every day.

The Horatio Alger Association was founded in 1947 by the power of positive thinking guy Norman Vincent Peale. It propagates the myth of 19th Century hack writer Horatio Alger who wrote gibberish about boot blacks and news boys who became wealthy because of their “pluck and perseverance.”

In making Alger a role model, the Horatio Alger Association overlooked accusations of child molestation against Alger when he was a Unitarian pastor:

“Early in 1866, a church committee of men was formed to investigate reports that Alger had sexually molested boys. Church officials reported to the hierarchy in Boston that Alger had been charged with “the abominable and revolting crime of gross familiarity with boys”. Alger denied nothing, admitted he had been imprudent, considered his association with the church dissolved, and left town. Alger sent Unitarian officials in Boston a letter of remorse, and his father assured them his son would never seek another post in the church. The officials were satisfied and decided no further action would be taken.

That gives a whole new meaning to the name of one of Alger’s best known characters:

I am not making this up. There was also this:

Tattered Tom? That applies to Justice Thomas after the well-deserved beating he’s taken over his life as a recipient of rich men’s largesse. I opted to call him Horatio Schnorrer instead because white dudes should never call black dudes Uncle Toms.

Back to the NYT expose of SCOTUS grifting. The Horatio Alger Association has aided and abetted Clarence’s life as a freeloader, which is ironic for a group that honors hard work and pulling one’s self up by one’s bootstraps. Ironies abound in the NYT story:

“His friendships forged through Horatio Alger have brought him proximity to a lifestyle of unimaginable material privilege. Over the years, his Horatio Alger friends have welcomed him at their vacation retreats, arranged V.I.P. access to sporting events and invited him to their lavish parties. In 2004, he joined celebrities including Oprah Winfrey and Ed McMahon at a three-day 70th birthday bash in Montana for the industrialist Dennis Washington. Several Horatio Alger friends also helped finance the marketing of a hagiographic documentary about the justice in the wake of an HBO film that had resurfaced Anita Hill’s sexual harassment allegations against him during his confirmation.”

Thomas stopped reporting the “generosity” of his rich friends in 2004 after an embarrassing piece in the LA Times. He claims he was told that he didn’t need to report his life as a vicarious member of the private jet set. It couldn’t have been Justice Scalia who reported the largesse of *his* rich friends. Scalia felt no discomfort over his own schnorring, which Thomas seems to feel despite his defiant public comments. Deep down, he knows he’s a hypocrite; otherwise, he wouldn’t have been so defensive about his relationship with Harlan Crow, collector of Hitler paintings and Supreme Court justices.

Even before he joined SCOTUS and the Horatio Alger Association, Thomas lived on other people’s dime:

“A former girlfriend said in an interview that “a buddy” of Justice Thomas had paid for their vacation in the Bahamas in the mid-1980s, when he was chairman of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. A longtime friend said he had paid for the justice’s 1987 wedding reception.”

Nice work if you can get it.

Hypocrisy and right-wing politics go together like shrimp and grits. Clarence Thomas expects others to pull themselves up by their bootstraps when he hasn’t done so since he attended Yale Law School. His code is stern, but his reality involves freeloading, schnorring, and grifting off his rich buddies. He seems to think it’s his due after his genuinely Dickensian childhood in Pin Point, Georgia. Clarence Thomas is as big a phony as Horatio Alger and that’s saying something.

A final note about the Horatio Alger Association and Norman Vincent Peale. Fred Trump was a recipient of the Horatio Alger award. The Trump family attended Norman Vincent Peale’s church in Manhattan. The Kaiser of Chaos has flipped Peale’s power of positive thinking on its head by championing the power of negative thinking in his politics. The Indicted Impeached Insult Comedian never met a grievance he didn’t embrace.

I debated whether to title the post Horatio Grifter or Horatio Schnorrer. The musical last word was the tie breaker. It goes to Groucho Marx with a song in which he poses the immortal question: “Did someone call me schnorrer?”

Hello, I must be going.

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