February 21, 2009

Reaction to Eric Holder's "cowards" comment

A few days ago, new Attorney General Eric Holder proclaimed that Americans were "cowards" for not discussing matters of race more openly and frankly:

"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards," Holder said.

To which Victor Davis Hanson retorts (my emphasis):

He obviously hasn't paid much attention to college campuses, where the obsession with race permeates departments, curricula, hiring, faculty profile, student events, funding, etc. Bumper-sticker identification and hair-trigger readiness to accuse someone of racism to further a particular ideological or even personal agenda are now 30 years old and institutionalized in higher education.

He is right on one count, however — in the university, public schools, journalism at large, the foundations, and politics, there is a reluctance in one aspect to broach the subject. It is absolutely taboo to suggest that personal behavior, particular ingrained attitudes, and pernicious cultural assumptions — far more than contemporary racial oppression — could have contributed to ordinately high rates of drug use, crime, illegitimacy, unemployment, high-school drop-out rates, sexist attitudes toward women, and incarceration among a subset of young African-American males.

One can cite data, and refer to it in the spirit of finding constructive solutions. Yet that will most often result in suffering the slur of racism, given that so many are invested in the industry of racial grievance, as Holder himself has unfortunately demonstrated. It is not encouraging that in the first real public speech, the Attorney General of the United States has denigrated the American people as "cowards."

A reader of Jonah Goldberg writes:

Mr. Holder’s statement is shockingly ignorant of the legal (read “liability”) landscape in which race relations exist. As an attorney who represents employers facing workplace discrimination charges, I can tell you that wisdom dictates that the workplace be as free of race-related discussions as possible if an employer is to avoid administratively and/or judicially imposed liability or, more importantly, the potentially enormous cost of defending against a charge of race discrimination. Believe me, whenever an employer terminates an employee in a protected class, there is a better than even chance that that employee will at least file a discrimination charge with the EEOC or a similar state agency. The employer must then choose between “mediation” (read – paying off the charging employee to avoid the greater expense of a trial) and opposing and defending against the charge. Of course, not all such charges are hogwash. However, given the fact that the EEOC and its state-run subsidiaries typically help disgruntled employees comb some basis for a Title VII (or ADA, or ADEA, of FMLA) claim from their particular facts, many, many of them are frivolous.

Mr. Holder’s apparent ignorance of this government supported racial grievance generating machinery is appalling for any attorney. It is unthinkable in the U.S. Attorney General.

Regarding Hanson's point, one has only but to look to our own University of Delaware and its [reconfigured] "residence life program" as an example of how the Left wants people to discuss race. Our local gaggle of moonbat bloggers have that hair-trigger readiness to accuse folks of racism for something as simple as questioning the expansion of hate crimes definitions and/or legislation. Just take a search here at Colossus under "racism" to see many more such ridiculous anecdotes.

I've attended so-called "frank" dialogues on race often in my teaching career. Two disparate instances stick out in my mind, both involving invited [black] speakers. In the first instance, an older gent spoke about how a predominately white teaching staff can best reach African-American children. (He also had written a book to that effect.) His was a no-nonsense philosophy; his basic message was that black children should not be treated any differently than white children (what a concept, eh?). They should be held to the same standards as white children -- anything less was the "soft bigotry of low expectations." He had little tolerance for blaming racism for the lack of black student achievement, and in answer to critics' charges that [some] white teachers may harbor biases (overt or covert) he said that black students and parents harbor the same. The key, obviously, is not acting on them (ignoring them, basically) and overcoming them.

The reception that this gentleman received was tepid, to say the least, particularly from black staff members. Some administrators even felt the need to apologize for this gentleman's seminar the following day.

A few years later, another such speaker held a seminar. But his thesis was the virtual antithesis of the previous speaker's. This gentleman posited that [white] teacher racism was the primary cause of black student [under]achievement, and stated outright that he would "not discuss any factors such as home life, economics, culture, etc." (How's that for cowardice, Mr. Holder?) In small groups we "discussed" concepts like "white privilege" and took a "test" in which the results (a high or low number figure) supposedly determined how "privileged" one was in American society. (The test "questions" were so preposterously "loaded" as to be beyond facetious.)

The reception this gentleman received was much more gracious than that given to our previous speaker, particularly from black staff members. In fact, many of this gentleman's ideas were further disseminated for use in varying degrees here and there. There was no administrative apology made for this gentleman's blanket indictment of racism among all Caucasian teachers who happen to have black students in their classrooms. Indeed, white teachers were encouraged to "look inward" to come "face to face with their privilege and biases."

In one such manifestation during one of those ..."disseminations," a discussion group leader (white guy) once asked "Why is it that no white teachers are willing to speak their thoughts?" After an uncomfortable minute of silence I raise my hand and said the obvious to him: That they're afraid of being labeled a "racist" for being perceived as perhaps saying the "wrong" thing. And as an example, I brought up the instance of having to apologize for our first speaker's seminar a few years back, but the second's. I asked what sort of message that sent.

I didn't get a straight answer. What I got was a gobbledeegook round-about statement that "we just need to have more open discussions."

He just didn't get it. Just like Eric Holder.

Posted by Hube at February 21, 2009 09:24 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

Hube:

Important facet to this story is that Holder did not make this speech on his own time to a voluntary group of attendees at some libtard gathering.

Holder made this speech (diatribe?) to his own employees of the Justice Department!

IMO that makes his ideas even more troubling.

Posted by: AJ Lynch at February 21, 2009 09:40 AM

When I was in college, I was invited to participate in a "dialogue on race" sponsored by one of the RAs in my dorm. (There were about twice as many panelists as there were attendees. I was representing the conservative viewpoint.)

The RA started off introducing the panel and got to "X," the "Hispanic on the panel." Turns out he wasn't Hispanic, he was Jewish. I'm hoping the RA learned a lesson about judging people based off of their appearance.

Posted by: Paul Smith at February 21, 2009 02:16 PM

I find it quite revealing that Hube, Victor Davis Hanson, Johah Goldberg, and Al Lynch all assumed that Holder was addressing only whites, calling them cowards wrt certain manifestations of racist behavior. Wrong. He was addressing whites and blacks alike. Most of us are cowards on racial matters, he claims. I agree, and I include myself in the coward category, but I am trying to improve.

Certainly we've made progress, especially now on college campuses and in high schools, but the rest of us are not nearly as color-blind as they are. The test, according to Holder, is where we go for after-work social gatherings, or when we go home on weekends. Each of us should honestly answer Holder's challenge.

Regarding Hube's second speaker example, Holder covered the audience reaction, which Hube also bluntly identified. It is a problem! We are cowards when it comes to talking about race, as Holder states.

Wrt Al's objection, on the contrary, I think it was wholly appropriate for Holder to address his staff on this issue. I will bet that the result will add a more harmonious note within his agency, with greater effectiveness and efficiency being the bonus. Are you a coward on race, Al?

Back to Hube's two speakers, two points: First, we have to be careful to distinguish between expectations of students based on race and treatment of students based on race. We should indeed have equally high expectations of all students; however, on treatment, any good teacher knows that the treatment, or teaching approach, depends on the needs and characteristics of the individual student. If race is an issue with a particular student, black or white, then it needs to be addressed in terms of treatment by the teacher. Thus, the first speaker addressed expectations, the second addressed treatment. Both are valid and important considerations for teachers.

Which brings me to the second point: No white teachers were willing to speak up about racial issues because they felt "afraid", states Hube. That is Holder's point exactly. And surprise, surprise, Hube "gets it" without even realizing that he does. Great!!!

Posted by: Perry at February 21, 2009 02:26 PM

No, Holder doesn't get it, Perry. Both he and Obama, who appointed him, are still way too much like that second speaker, and want to hear only certain opinions on race -- what THEY want to hear. Obama's whole campaign destroyed anyone who even remotely could have been construed to make a semi-racist comment. And you'd have us believe that Holder really wants to hear ALL sides of a dialogue? HA! That was the supposed thesis of that second speaker we had -- we needed to be "frank." Well, yeah, we could be as frank as we wished .... up to a point. That point was disagreeing with the speaker's theme.

Posted by: Hube at February 21, 2009 08:57 PM

Like I said, Hube agrees with Holder without even realizing it.

Hube, take off your ideological hat on this one, forget it is your old nemesis making this point, and go with your instincts, with which I agree, and which are indeed in synch with Holder's point about cowards. You are the one who had the nerve to speak up, even if it was disagreeing with the speaker's main theme. No one else was willing to stand up. That is the point, Hube. Good for you, I say!!!

I do disagree with your point about Obama. I think his speech on race, on the occasion of the Reverend Wright situation, actually opened up areas for more discourse on racial issues. That was truly a great speech! And Holder's remarks are a follow on to that same theme, in my view.

Posted by: Perry at February 22, 2009 09:47 AM

Perry: really? Then how do you explain the vitriolic attacks on Bill Clinton? Geraldine Ferraro? Etc.? All vehement supporters of civil rights and African-Americans?

And that's my point: Holder's (and Obama's) claim to have "open" dialogue is just so much window dressing. It means zilch.

Posted by: Hube at February 22, 2009 09:53 AM

Hube, stop diverting to Clinton or Ferraro. I was addressing the "coward" statement. Moreover, I was complimenting you on your behavior. What is your problem, man?

Posted by: Perry at February 22, 2009 04:48 PM

It's not a "diversion," Perry. What it is is a perfect example of the Obama camp's double-speak when it comes to "frank talk about race." IOW, they want a one-way discussion, while everyone else listens.

And, by refusing to address both of those examples, Perry, you do too.

Posted by: Hube at February 22, 2009 05:24 PM

You might wanna read Heather MacDonald's essay on the Holder issue:

http://www.city-journal.org/2009/eon0219hm.html?PHPSESSID=ca854d4e4b1188b62485de98b96c9d4a

Posted by: Hube at February 22, 2009 07:25 PM

Hube, Heather MacDonald sets the tone of her essay with her opening sentence, and it remains consistent throughout: "Attorney General Eric Holder, a Clinton administration retread, wants to revive Bill Clinton’s National Conversation on Race. (What’s next? Hillarycare?)"

She focuses on the behavior and problems of African-Americans, about which everyone already knows, but shows no sympathy and offers no solutions. Therefore hers is a near worthless screed, in my view.

Holder's point is to try to open us up to confront more openly the vestiges of slavery that still divide too many of us. Unfortunately, his message has been misunderstood by MacDonald, and you too, surprisingly about you because your behavior, which I previously acknowledged, indicates to me that you agree in actions but not in words. Strange!

Even though I pointed out your dichotomy to you, you resist it! So yes, you are stubborn, as you just indicated yourself in your most recent post.

Being stubborn is not an asset when it flies in the face of revealed facts! MacDonald here does not present any facts that help your case, because she is more stubborn than you, regarding her lack of sympathy and understanding for the impact of the heritage of current African-Americans.

The good news is that the stronger willed among them will continue to break out, therefore this trickle will continue over generations to continue to improve their status.

Let us not let the MacDonalds of this world impede this process, rather the Holders (and the Hubes) of this world encourage it.

Posted by: Perry at February 23, 2009 09:23 AM

Thank YOU, Perry, for exemplifying perfectly what this whole post was about. I knew you couldn't resist. For example, how precisely do the MacDonalds of the world "impede" discussion? You, like Holder, Obama and Clinton et. al. JUST want to talk about what you stated: "Holder's point is to try to open us up to confront more openly the vestiges of slavery that still divide too many of us." Again, you make my point for me (and MacDonald and many others) perfectly. IOW, that's ONLY what they want to be discussed.

Sure, it should be PART of any discussion. But as you (and way too many others, like those above) do, you want to exclusively focus on that. MacDonald doesn't exclusively focus on that because that's her "exclusive focus;" she focuses on that in her article to demonstrate what isn't permitted to be discussed in any "frank" discussion about race. It's not she that is impeding the discussion; it's impeded by those who don't want to hear (or would restrict) what she says.

And I know exactly what she's talking about. As I noted in the post, I've attended these precise types of "frank" talks. You'd make a good "moderator," Perry.

Posted by: Hube at February 23, 2009 10:23 AM

The Manichean Ersatz! Want "frank talk"? Listen here: Arthur Graham coined the term "subliminal racism" and invites all to visit his website:
http://www.subliminalracism.com

See Graham's "Jupiter Island Media Patriots" [JIMP]and know what's "behind" Eric Holder's "frank talk." RE: Preview, 8 of 77 pages, view at:
http://www.subliminalracism.com/JIMP.html

Peace & Blessings
Arthur J. Graham, Ph.D.
God Bless America!

Posted by: Arthur at February 23, 2009 11:28 AM

Hube, I think MacDonald, and now you, are impeding discussion just by your comments on this thread against Holder's comments. Holder clearly is attempting to open up the race discussion to more participants.

I find it hard to grasp that your behavior at your school seminars and your words here and elsewhere on your blog are not in synch, which is why I feel that you seem to be attempting to quash your own instinctive responses without understanding why or even admitting that it is happening. The evidence for this is right here in this thread, from your own writing, as I have pointed out.

Either you are woefully ignorant or woefully insensitive to black history in America wrt regard to your cognitive processes, but again, your instincts are on the mark, in my view. I suspect it is the latter.

If you happen to have access to the Sunday WaPo, the outlook section, I suggest you read Annette Gordon-Reed's book review of Martha A. Sandweiss' biography of the life of Clarence King called Passing Strange: A Gilded Age Tale of Love and Deception Across the Color Line. This review is entitled: Color Blind

It's the life of a fairly well known white man of New England prominent heritage, who feels the need to lead a double life when he falls in love with and marries a black woman. The racial tensions that existed then, in the early 1900's, are elucidated to provide an understanding of the pressures on King, and why he chose to live the double life he chose.

We are but a century from this time.

In the same WaPo Outlook section, on the front page, is a piece called "Death and Texas", talking about the rise and now demise of the wealthy powerful ultraconservative breed. Reference is made to a powerful third party, the Texas Regulars, who ran on a platform to "restore the supremacy of the white race". That's a half century ago.

And then of course we have the violent segregationist pushback in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi with the enactment of Brown v BoE in 1954, then enforcement of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when you were in a cradle then a playpen, Hube, while I participated in protest of the brutality. That's but two generations ago.

You've read all about this, Hube, but you do not seem to understand the remaining vestiges of 300 years of slavery, persecution, and constant classification of blacks as second class citizens.

Of course it's better now, but it will take generations for blacks to get entirely past their inheritance. Ask ANY white woman if she still feels the remainder of their second class citizenship, as it exists to this day. The glass ceiling is alive and well, for example.

What else can I say, Hube?

Posted by: Perry at February 23, 2009 03:56 PM

You can say nothing else, Perry, b/c, regardless of your sad attempt to "enlighten" me, you've added not a damn thing to the discussion. As I said, you are acting just like the Holders, Obamas, colleges, and way too many other liberals who only want a ONE-WAY discussion! Else, why would you attempt to "remind" me of the woeful history in America w/regards to African Americans? How is it relevant to an HONEST and OPEN discussion about race if that is what we ONLY have to concentrate on? Look what you did -- you brushed aside my point and MacDonald's and said they IMPEDED discussion! This is exactly what those noted above do. Yes -- racism was horrible and black Americans have suffered from it for too long. Racism still exists. We ALL get that. This part of the discussion we ALL have heard. Unfortunately, it's pretty much been the only conversation we've heard.

You clearly have faith in what Holder supposedly means; unfortunately, you have only his words; I have myriad experiences to go by. I take the latter any day.

I find it hard to grasp that your behavior at your school seminars and your words here and elsewhere on your blog are not in synch, which is why I feel that you seem to be attempting to quash your own instinctive responses without understanding why or even admitting that it is happening. The evidence for this is right here in this thread, from your own writing, as I have pointed out.

WTF does this even mean??

Again, what I am saying is that Holder -- like Obama, like universities, like "race seminars" across the land, like Bill Clinton's task force on race -- all want to have a ONE-WAY discussion on race, Perry. They want exactly what you just did here in your last post. IOW, if one does not accept that racism is the primary or even major cause of the problems that exist in the black community today, then they are either "racist," "insensitive," "intolerant" or whatever the hell else you like to throw in there. Look again at what you did here -- MacDonald (and I) are "impeding" the discussion and we're "insensitive" to black history. It's total bullsh**. There is NOTHING that precludes knowledge of racism in America nor the hard struggle blacks have had in the US if one asks questions such as did MacDonald. And, BTW, MacDonald and many others that have "dared" raise the points she did in her article have often advocated the solutions you demanded. But, just like these so-called "frank discussions," the solutions are too often brushed aside as "insensitive," "blaming the victim," yada yada yada.

Which brings us full circle, then. You've served to make my point perfectly (and I also noted you still refused to address the demonization of Bill Clinton and Gerry Ferraro), so case closed. There can be no honest discussion of race in America as long as it remains a one-way street.

Posted by: Hube at February 23, 2009 04:31 PM

Hube, I do not claim that the problem many African-Americans have in school, for example, is due only to their history as slaves and the second class status in which many are still viewed, regardless of their achievements. I am merely saying that this history/heritage needs to be taken into consideration. I think that this is what was behind Holder's attempt to open the discussion up more, involving more, delving deeper, to achieve deeper understanding all around. I cannot understand how difficult this is to perceive, yet you and MacDonald are apparently having difficulty, since you are objecting to Holder's initiative. On what grounds? I guess I don't understand what you two are really after.

Might as well leave it there.

Posted by: Perry at February 23, 2009 04:42 PM

"On what grounds? I guess I don't understand what you two are really after."

Cripes almighty. Did you even read a single goddamn thing I wrote here? ONE?

Guess not. Your reflexive need to contradict me and to inject your blind partisanship into EVERYTHING overpowers all your other instincts.

And you have the nerve to call me "obsessive-compulsive." Get the net!

Posted by: Hube at February 23, 2009 04:45 PM

So, uh, what exactly would be a "two-way" discussion on race?

And Holder didn't go far enough...we're a nation of cowards in every sense of the word, not just regarding racism.

Posted by: Lex at February 28, 2009 09:51 AM

Um, uh, a real discussion on race wouldn't be just two-way. It would involve many avenues regarding the many different hues/ethnicities that make up the country.

Did you really need this explained, based on the post and comments above?

Posted by: Hube at February 28, 2009 10:01 AM

IOW, if one does not accept that racism is the primary or even major cause of the problems that exist in the black community today, then they are either "racist," "insensitive," "intolerant" or whatever the hell else you like to throw in there. Look again at what you did here -- MacDonald (and I) are "impeding" the discussion and we're "insensitive" to black history. It's total bullsh**.

That about sums it up.

I've been to enough meetings, 20 tears worth, to recognize the propaganda that defies logic, Ever since Racism was defined in only one direction. When blacks defined themselves incapable of racism. ROTFL.

Not a Coward, but finally smart about avoiding ambushes. Suicide missions, need a significant higher purpose.

Posted by: Not a Coward at March 3, 2009 08:41 PM

Damn Freud

"tears == Years"

Posted by: Not a Coward at March 3, 2009 08:58 PM