(And by the way, I also posted over here.)
I have to admit that I’m a little surprised about the relative silence of my lefty blogging brethren over the recent speech by Attorney General Eric Holder, in which he said this country is “a nation of cowards” on racial issues (noted here).
And after hearing that, I should note that I never really had much of a problem over the whole Rev. Wright thing (I’m not happy to hear anyone say “God damn America!,” but there were about five and a half minutes of that speech that I later heard that was basically ignored by our corporate media cousins, and after hearing the rest, you have the context behind that statement). I also cared less when then-candidate Barack Obama gave his whole “guns, clinging, bitter, whatever” speech in San Francisco because I thought he was basically right; the problem is that he is a black man who discussed economic issues affecting white people, and that’s not supposed to happen in this country (particularly when Karl Rove later uttered the same words, and all you heard in response was the sound of crickets).
However, I have a problem with these words from Holder.
Now I don’t know if his comments were colored by the absolutely revolting recent incident in which New York Post cartoonist Sean Delonas compared President Obama to a dead chimp (here), which, it should be noted, was not the first time Delonas has been the subject of controversy (here). If Holder was angered over that, that’s understandable, but he should have admitted that at the start.
Also, I don’t know if Holder had in mind the truly comic mindset of newly-elected RNC chairman Michael Steele, as noted here by kos (yo, whassup??!!).
What I do know, though, is that Holder is dead wrong. And that should be pointed out in the strongest possible way while still observing the respect Holder is due for his high position in our government. And I don’t care what your politics are!
Take a look at the photo in this post, Mr. Holder. It shows the musician/activist Joan Baez entering Montgomery, Alabama on the Selma to Montgomery march for voting rights in 1965, arm-in-arm with author James Baldwin and James Forman (left to right). Are you arguing that Joan Baez is a coward?
Also, this article tells you about Father Albert Foley, Jesuit professor of sociology at Spring Hill College in Alabama who, in the early 1960s, worked with Mobile Mayor Joseph Langan (himself a Catholic) to broker an agreement that would desegregate Mobile's downtown businesses (the article also tells us that African American Catholics took encouragement from the state’s white priests of the Edmundite order, who treated them with fairness and dignity and assured them of their spiritual worth; these priests, by their refusal to condemn civil rights activism, encouraged African Americans to press for change).
Were Father Foley and the state’s Edmundite priests cowards also, Mr. Holder?
What about Leon Sachs, one-time head of the Baltimore Jewish Council who stood up for African Americans discriminated against in his state (noted here)? Was he a coward also?
Or former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, with her history of activism for both women’s rights and civil rights? Or other notable Caucasians who participated in civil rights marches such as Paul Newman, Marlon Brando, and even (gulp) Charlton Heston?
Here are a couple of more names for you to consider, Mr. Holder: Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner (here). Are you SERIOUSLY going to argue that they’re cowards also?
(And by the way, I realize that I'm pretty much singling out white people, even though Holder, with his "broad brush," basically insulted Americans of a wide range of races, ethnicities, and gender preferences here.)
I don’t know what was in the mind of Attorney General Holder when he gave that speech. But I believe that his words were truly inopportune and offensive and undercut his attempt to bridge what I admit is a yawning divide on this subject, with all parties involved having some measure of soul-searching to do before we try to close it.
And one more thing – I sincerely hope that I never end up in a position where I share at least a minor amount of agreement with Jonah Goldberg ever again.