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A Nation of Candor? The conversation Eric Holder doesn’t want us to have about race
City Journal ^ | 4 April 2012 | Harry Stein

Posted on 04/06/2012 6:55:28 PM PDT by neverdem

On February 18, 2009, less than a month into President Obama’s supposedly postracial presidency, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder commemorated Black History Month by declaring America “essentially a nation of cowards.” The reason: “We, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race. . . . If we are to make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us.” Holder’s words left many commentators flabbergasted. Too little discussion of race? Race has long been our national obsession, a pastime more widely followed than football (which itself regularly gives rise to racial conflagrations) or Oprah Winfrey (who’s never averse to fanning the flames). Liberal commentators refuse to shut up about race; college students have it pushed in their faces from the first day of orientation to the de rigueur pieties about “diversity” and “social justice” at graduation; most every Fortune 500 company has instituted policies aimed at hiring and promoting minorities, and woe to those recalcitrant managers who adhere to more traditional standards of merit.

Holder’s invocation of Americans’ supposed cowardice on racism was most notable for its timing. He spoke at what was understood everywhere to be a celebratory moment. Even most of us who’d strongly opposed candidate Obama, shouting ourselves hoarse that his policies would be disastrous, were gratified by what his election said about the citizens of this great land: that easily bamboozled as we can be, we are not bigots. That though parts of our country abandoned legally sanctioned bigotry a mere two generations ago, we have traveled farther, faster, than once would have seemed possible, embracing true racial tolerance—which is to say, indifference to skin color—more deeply than any other people on Earth.

Yet clearly this was not the message some in administration circles took from Obama’s election, and certainly not the one they wanted Americans to hear. For the world as they see it to make sense, racism must be ever-present, since it’s the all-purpose explanation for every problem that minorities in America confront. It soon became apparent that this was the thinking Holder brought to his own vital department. Rarely has the attorney general hesitated to snatch up the nearest available race card—from his startling decision early on to drop a case that his predecessors had already won against members of the New Black Panther Party for intimidating white voters at a Philadelphia polling place, to his claim that criticism of himself and the president over the disastrously botched Fast and Furious program was “due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.”

Which brings us to the Trayvon Martin case. From the outset, mainstream coverage overwhelmingly reflected the narrative on contemporary race relations that Holder and other prominent liberals hold dear: one relentlessly focused on white racism and black victimhood. As the story went viral, the media consensus was close to unanimous: 17-year-old Martin was murdered essentially for the crime of being a black kid in a hoodie walking in a white neighborhood, and his racist killer was getting off scot-free. “Rallies Across US Demand Justice,” ABC News summed it up. It is evidence of how firmly this version of events took hold that when, early on, Jesse Jackson likened Martin to Emmett Till—the 14-year-old black boy slaughtered in 1955 Mississippi, whose smirking murderers were acquitted in an hour—the appalling comparison went all but unchallenged.

In fact, over the first few days, as the media covered march after march and rally after angry rally, those less inclined to jump to judgment prudently held their peace, lest they risk an accusation of condoning murder or blaming the victim or (for of course this was implicit) being soft on racism. But then those stubborn things, facts, began to emerge, and suddenly the story was no longer so clear. Far from the classic racist, George Zimmerman turned out to be a guy with black friends who tutored black kids on weekends. Equally damaging, he was half-Hispanic—or, as the New York Times hopefully called him, clinging to the white-racism line, a “white Hispanic.” Nor was the dead boy necessarily as angelic as he’d been portrayed—partly by the ubiquitous photo taken when he was just 12. According to the Miami Herald, he’d been suspended from school three times for possessing marijuana residue, scrawling “W.T.F.” on a school locker, and having in his backpack, which was searched by a school security guard, “women’s rings and earrings and a screwdriver, described by the staffer as a ‘burglary tool.’”

His supporters furiously countered that such revelations were no justification for what befell him—and that’s absolutely true. No one in his right mind would suggest that the killing of Trayvon Martin is anything less than a tragedy or that his past has the remotest bearing on the events of that night. Nevertheless, the new information helped start a different and very vital conversation, one that goes well beyond the specifics of this one terrible case. For it began to shift attention toward a subject liberals have long sought to define as illicit—the degree to which real-life experience shapes perceptions on race. For those in the streets, defining George Zimmerman—and the society that produced him—as racist not only fosters anger and a sense of ill-use, it offers the comfort of an easy answer. It is a lot harder to confront, and ultimately deal with, the reality that there’s a valid reason why a black teen in a strange neighborhood is likely to arouse greater suspicion—and, yes, fear—than a white one: he is far more likely to be up to no good. Indeed, the statistics that have emerged again in recent days—blacks are roughly 13 percent of the population but responsible for more than half of all violent crimes; young black men commit murder nearly ten times as often as their peers of other races—are startling and sobering, even to many who thought they knew how bad things were. Among the most harrowing numbers of all is that, according to the Department of Justice, homicide is the leading cause of death for black males between 15 and 34. Nine of every ten black murder victims are killed by other blacks.

If the outcry over the killing of Trayvon Martin has served any useful purpose, it is to have brought some attention to what young black predators are doing to their own communities. As the story evolved, it became possible to ask: Where’s the public outcry about that? National Review editor Rich Lowry, in an especially poignant piece, listed a number of recent murders of young blacks in their gruesome particulars, calling them “the murders that don’t count.” “If Martin had been shot by a black classmate,” he rightly observed, “if he had been caught in a random crossfire, if he had looked at a gang member the wrong way, his death would have been relegated to the back pages of the local newspaper. Not a cause, not even a curiosity: Just another dead young black man. Nothing to see here. Please, move on.”

No one disputes that it’s humiliating to be judged a miscreant for the color of your skin. But to begin and end the conversation there is a grotesque disservice to those for whom liberals so tirelessly profess compassion. At this juncture in our history, racism as the all-purpose answer is a delusion and a trap. If as a society we are ever seriously to deal with why, in this freest and most prosperous of nations, so many minorities continue to lag so far behind economically and educationally, or why rates of criminality in the inner cities are so appallingly high, we have to begin with a commitment no longer to turn away from hard truths. That means, for starters, focusing less on racism and far more on culture—the values that too often hold sway in those inner-city communities. Such a conversation would address children having children, kids raised without fathers, attitudes about education, work, and accountability, and a great deal more.

Admittedly, given how effectively the racism charge has been wielded as a weapon by those who’d bitterly resist such a national dialogue, it is hard even to imagine such a thing occurring. Then again, the fight for welfare reform that ultimately nudged millions from dependence toward personal responsibility and what writer Daniel Akst calls “the aristocracy of self-control” was also long and ugly. It finally succeeded because enough decent people concerned about the well-being of the country realized that it had to, and so were willing to take the heat.

Holder and others who cling to today’s rotting hulk of a civil rights establishment are increasingly an anachronism, for all their moral posturing standing as an impediment to genuine racial progress in this country. For them, the possibility of losing white racism as an issue—as a weapon—is intolerable. It would be bad enough if this were purely a cynical tactic to arouse other true believers in the base. But it’s not: they truly believe it, facts—and the possibility of a better life for those suffering in the inner cities—be damned. They have become what they despise, their mantra a tragic twist on George Wallace’s as he stood in the schoolhouse door: “Racism now, racism tomorrow, racism forever!”

Harry Stein is a contributing editor of City Journal. His new book, No Matter What . . . They’ll Call This Book Racist, will be published this month.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Editorial; Politics/Elections
KEYWORDS: ericholder; holder
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1 posted on 04/06/2012 6:55:33 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem

Most whites will shy away from race issues because they know it is going to end badly. This administration has set race relations back 25 years. But in another way whites have found out what blacks really think about them.

2 posted on 04/06/2012 7:00:47 PM PDT by Americanexpat (Everytime I see that guy's face ot)
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To: neverdem

I’m tired of this.

I refuse to be ashamed to be a white man. No matter what Al Sharpton says.

3 posted on 04/06/2012 7:03:18 PM PDT by sauropod (You can elect your very own tyranny - Mark Levin)
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To: Americanexpat

But in another way whites have found out what blacks really think about them.

It is very important that whites understand that black and brown racism in power is as deadly and demoralizing as any other kind of racism America has seen. Brown an black racists do have plenty of power - starting at the White House and Department of Justice.

They have to learn to reject hate from influence, authority and power - no matter it’s excuse and color. They should be familar with the term “house cracker” and swear off being one. It’s shameful to abet hate and it’s violence.

4 posted on 04/06/2012 7:13:33 PM PDT by SaraJohnson
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To: neverdem

“They have become what they despise, their mantra a tragic twist on George Wallace’s as he stood in the schoolhouse door: ‘Racism now, racism tomorrow, racism forever!’”

(spoken to Judah) “Hatred is turning you to stone. It is as though you had become Messala!”

“Ben Hur”

5 posted on 04/06/2012 7:14:09 PM PDT by combat_boots (The Lion of Judah cometh. Hallelujah. Gloria Patri, Filio et Spiritui Sancto.)
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To: neverdem

The “conversation” Eric wants is for all the White devils to shut up and hand over all their stuff.

6 posted on 04/06/2012 7:16:58 PM PDT by E. Pluribus Unum (Over half of U.S. murders are of black people, and 90% of them are committed by other black people.)
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To: Americanexpat

You’re right; whites can’t speak candidly about race, while others can be open (and worse) about it. The white response has been to just eliminate blacks through contraception and abortion, and import Hispanics to replace them; this policy is working very well.

7 posted on 04/06/2012 7:24:37 PM PDT by kearnyirish2
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To: SaraJohnson

“It is very important that whites understand that black and brown racism in power is as deadly and demoralizing as any other kind of racism America has seen.”

I don’t think “brown racism” is nearly as dangerous as “black racism”; blacks have been (and continue to be) conditioned to hate whites as the root of all of their problems, and fed a constant stream of inflated claims of lynchings etc. to feed their hate with no offsetting description of how white America feeds, clothes, houses, and schools them. Whatever grievances a splinter group of Mexicans feels about the southwestern US, most Mexicans in the US are glad to be out of Mexico.

8 posted on 04/06/2012 7:28:34 PM PDT by kearnyirish2
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To: kearnyirish2

The left is promoting brown racism as they do with black racism in children via their “critical race” anti-gringo diversity doctrines. They encourage the children to see themselves as separate from white America and to see America as racist with only socialism as the solution.

It is important that white children understand that no matter the excuse for the hate, it is not alright. The ideology of Marxism offered as the solution for the diversity race hate, is not better than the constitutional republic. Freedom is not “white” although it’s foundation was created and expanded to everybody by whites over time. Freedom is for all the people of the US.

9 posted on 04/06/2012 7:45:58 PM PDT by SaraJohnson
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To: sauropod

Why be ashamed? White men have created almost everything that matters. Charles Murray has documented it in hundreds of pages.

10 posted on 04/06/2012 8:43:20 PM PDT by achilles2000 ("I'll agree to save the whales as long as we can deport the liberals")
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To: neverdem
I have learned much about the race difference in my lifetime. Race was a big issue when I was in high-school. Dr King was in the streets and my white family supported him. Things started to change and I went to work in life trying to earn a decent living and support my won family. Many blacks continued to stay entrenched in the race issues, did not go out and fend for themselves and also taught their children and grandchildren how to play the race cards for all they were worth. Now these folks what to tell me that I'm privileged because I have something. They could have had something too if they would have gotten off their butts and worked a lifetime like I did.
Do you want to tell me all about my enhanced opportunity because I am white???? Well, F YOU. The first 23 years of my employment were in the military. There were many blacks who served with me. They took full advantage of the same opportunities that I had. Are you going to claim they enjoyed “white privilege” too????? We have reached a point in time where most rational people fully realize that the problems in black culture and black society today are the direct results of what blacks have done and not done over the last 60 years. Let me clear up the next claim about my white privilege. My great grandfather came to this country from England many decades after slavery had been abolished. My family has no history of owning slaves or profiting from their labors. We have always worked for what we have. I would suggest the same for everyone else no matter what the color of their skin. The blacks in this country have worn the race cards out. Playing those race cards just don't work any more.
11 posted on 04/06/2012 9:08:31 PM PDT by oldenuff2no (Rangers lead the way...... Delta, the original European home land security)
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To: neverdem
I've got a full on case of NFS, Negro Fatigue Syndrome. I can't read about negro "problems", watch negro entertainers, contemplate negro history month, read about Trayvon or Shenequa, or consider the relationship between negroes and fried chicken.

I really can't take it anymore. The entire country has gone absolutely insane with this obsession with negroes.

This has got to end.
12 posted on 04/06/2012 9:10:13 PM PDT by Jay Santos CP ("Idiocracy"... It's no longer just a movie.)
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13 posted on 04/06/2012 10:02:38 PM PDT by devolve (- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - you can*t do that with a WebTV - - - - - - - - - - - -)
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To: oldenuff2no
Unlike most of the Black community that don't know who their fathers were, I know who my grand parents were. My dad's parents came from Germany and Holland. Two uncles fought in the Civil War for the Union. Dad;s parents and relations were farmers until he broke the mold and became an auto mechanic.

My grandparents (mother's side) were both from Sweden. Grandpa was an overseer on a big Swedish estate. Grandma was a peasant girl. They fell in love, but the rigid caste system wouldn't allow them to marry. Grandpa came to the U.S., worked on a farm, and saved his money. After two or three years he'd saved enough to bring his fiancee to America. They were married in the U.S. Grandpa was a farmer and grandma was a housewife.

Grandpa and grandma spoke no English when they came to America and they both learned because there was no “English as a second language” program. They studied and took the test for U.S. citizenship, given in English, passed, and were naturalized as citizens.

So, all you Black racists, exactly how many of you were owned as slaves by my grandparents on their extensive plantations in Illinois? Eh? Illinois was never a slave state and Sweden had no Blacks as slaves. White guilt on my part? I don't think so. Go bother your Muslim brothers that still practice chattel slavery. You'll feel right at home.

14 posted on 04/06/2012 11:30:14 PM PDT by MasterGunner01 (11)
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To: MasterGunner01
Illinois was never a slave state .....

Actually, once it was. When it joined the Union there was a nominal number of ex-French nationals living in Illinois (as in Champaign, Joliet, Belleville, Des Plaines) who had slaves. They were grandfathered, and the last of these slaves died or was manumitted sometime after the War of 1812.

Thereafter, Illinois wrote a Black Code to keep black immigrants from the South out of the State (part of the Free Soil movement that put Lincoln in the White House eventually, after it was captured by the Republican Party). There was a penalty for a free black settling in Illinois. The remedy was to take his freedom away and "sell him south" to the big plantations down the Mississippi River. Blacks learned not to tarry in Illinois. That part of the criminal code survived the Civil War for a few years.

15 posted on 04/07/2012 1:09:24 AM PDT by lentulusgracchus
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To: lentulusgracchus
Illinois achieved statehood on 21 December 1818. That there may have been some slaves grandfathered in does not change the fact Illinois was never considered a slave state. There never was anything like the plantation economy of the South in Illinois. That Blacks were kept out, OK. That's neither a bad thing or a good thing.

However, my point is that none of my family participated in slavery or holding slaves. Two ancestors (father's side) fought for the Union in the Civil War and the other (mother's side) were immigrants from Sweden. If the case can be made any of my ancestors were slave holders or masters, good luck with that argument.

Bottom line: It does not matter the racial background or false historical grievances if you come to take my life, liberty, or property. Do not tread on me.

16 posted on 04/07/2012 1:42:25 AM PDT by MasterGunner01 (11)
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To: SaraJohnson

“They encourage the children to see themselves as separate from white America and to see America as racist with only socialism as the solution.”

I understand their goal, but it is a harder sell than with blacks; Hispanics are streaming into this country voluntarily, and socialism works against their best interests in terms of providing a better life for their families.

17 posted on 04/07/2012 2:53:59 AM PDT by kearnyirish2
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To: sauropod

About 12-15 years ago there was a conservative black talk radio host by the name of Ken Hamblin. He would every now and then go off on an Absolution of White Guilt talk, and offer this to his white listeners. I took him up on his offer and have never looked back. I laugh at anyone who calls me “RACIST!” because I will forthrightly address uncomfortable issues.

Here’s a look at the certificate.

18 posted on 04/07/2012 3:13:39 AM PDT by FreedomPoster (Islam delenda est)
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To: Jay Santos CP
...or consider the relationship between negroes and fried chicken.

LOL! I think there are probably a lot of blacks who feel the same way, such as the (black) woman who made that perfectly innocent ad about a product that everybody of any color likes, and ended up having to grovel and apologize for it.

It's the "black leaders," the most prominent one being in the White House, who are keeping alive this insane focus on skin color - entirely for their own benefit.

I too am tired of hearing that 12% of the population doesn't consider itself human but simply pieces of walking skin of a certain color that have nothing in common with the rest of America. I would suspect there are at least some blacks who feel the same way - but we see what happens to them at the hands of the "black leaders" when they dare to step out of their place.

19 posted on 04/07/2012 3:43:06 AM PDT by livius
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To: FreedomPoster; sauropod

Walter Williams has an amnesty certiciate.

20 posted on 04/07/2012 5:13:25 AM PDT by Right Wing Assault (Dick Obama is more inexperienced now than he was before he was elected.)
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