Thursday, February 19, 2009
Appropos of Chocolate News: Eric Holder, have you lost your damn mind!?!?
America's first black attorney general declared yesterday that the country is a "nation of cowards" when it comes to discussing race:
"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot in things racial, we have always been, and we, I believe, continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards. Though race-related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about things racial."This is truly sad. Given all that we as a nation went through during the civil rights struggle, it is hard for me to accept that the result of those efforts was to create an America that is more prosperous, more positively race-conscious, and yet is voluntarily socially segregated."
First, of all, who is "we," Kemosabe? Is he in every home and neighborhood listening in on every conversation? And the "voluntary social segregation" that he decries evidences itself in more ways than just race. In, New York, for example, is it just an issue of "race" that causes Chinese and Koreans to live in Chinatown -- and Russians to move to Brighton Beach, Brooklyn? Yet, even seventeen years after the riots, Crown Heights has an odd mix of American-born blacks, American-born Orthodox Jews -- and West Indians of all nationalities?
The segregation -- and discussion that he thinks the country needs may be more needed by the upper middle-class and wealthy than the poor and working class.
But, the really galling aspect of Holder's speech is that -- even granting his argument that there needs to be more discussion on race (which, given how well the Clinton era "national conversation on race" went, I'm not necessarily convinced) -- his way of approaching the topic made it an immediate non-starter. Calling the country a "nation of cowards" one month after the inauguration of its first black president shows a devastating lack of political awareness. It's precisely that sort of overstatement that often poisons the beginnings of useful dialog on these issues.
Eric Holder is a very smart man. But his glaringly bull-in-a-China-shop approach to a sensitive issue like this are the actions of a twit.