We’re just cowards here.
I stumbled across this interview Adam Carolla had with Taleeb Starkes last week, and found this part especially interesting:
STARKES: When Eric Holder said we’ve become a nation of cowards, blah blah blah, we need to talk about race more. The NAACP applauded that. You guys don’t want an actual conversation, you guys want a monologue.
CAROLLA: Who is ‘you guys’?
STARKES: The NAACP. And everyone that applauded that statement he made. You guys don’t want a conversation, because with that comes some ugly truths, some statistics, some hate crime facts, et cetera. And they don’t want that. They want a monologue, they want control of the dialogue, and Eric Holder, his speech put him in the drivers seat, as far as being the official race hustler in my mind.
I largely agree with that, and have written so, but I also wanted to read exactly what Holder said.
February 18, 2009 (less than a month in office):
“Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards,” Holder declared.
Holder urged Americans of all races to use Black History Month as a time to have a forthright national conversation between blacks and whites to discuss aspects of race which are ignored because they are uncomfortable.
“[C]ertain subjects are off limits and that to explore them risks at best embarrassment and at worst the questioning of one’s character.”
“It’s a question of being honest with ourselves and racial issues that divide us,” Holder told reporters in a hastily arranged news conference. “It’s not easy to talk about it. We have to have the guts to be honest with each other, accept criticism, accept new proposals.”
The attorney general criticized past public debates on the issue as “too often simplistic and left to those on the extremes who are not hesitant to use these issues to advance nothing more than their own narrow self-interest.”
Although the use of “cowards” is inflammatory, his point is valid, if vague. I think many people, black and white, don’t “have the guts to be honest with each other, accept criticism, accept new proposals”. In relations between the “races”, this isn’t the same country as it was 50 years ago. Bull Connor, George Wallace, Robert Byrd, and other Democrats were the faces of intolerance then; Louis Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright are today. As Starkes said, “You guys don’t want a conversation, because with that comes some ugly truths, some statistics, some hate crime facts”.
And Holder didn’t back down five years later:
“I wouldn’t walk away from that speech,” Holder told ABC News in an interview. “I think we are still a nation that is too afraid to confront racial issues,” he said, adding that Americans are still hesitant to reach out to “one another across the color line [to] talk about racial issues.”
[T]here’s still more we have to travel along this road so we get to the place that is consistent with our founding ideals,” he told ABC.
Still pretty vague, but is Holder ready to have the conversation? Not as such:
“There’s a certain level of vehemence, it seems to me, that’s directed at me [and] directed at the president,” Holder told ABC, citing “people talking about taking their country back” as an example.
“There’s a certain racial component to this for some people. I don’t think this is the thing that is a main driver, but for some there’s a racial animus.”
It’s not the color of your skin, Eric, but its thinness. George Bush didn’t face vehemence? His Attorney General, John Ashcroft, didn’t encounter animus? Honest to god. It’s your politics (I don’t call you Eric the Red for nothing) and your dishonesty (Fast & Furious, IRS) that people don’t like, not your skin tone.
But Eric is having none of it. Monologue or conversation, he’s got a script and he’s sticking to it:
“I understand that mistrust. I am the attorney general of the United States. But I am also a black man,” Holder said at a meeting Wednesday with community leaders and students at the Florissant Valley Campus of St. Louis Community College, according to excerpts of his speech.
Holder recounted to the group of 50 how he was stopped in New Jersey twice, accused of speeding as officers searched his car.
“I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me,” he said.
A touching story—one that prompted a similar reminiscence of my own—but irrelevant to the citizens of Ferguson, MO. What does a speeding ticket have to do with a very large man shoplifting cigars, roughing up the store owner, ignoring a police officer’s order to get out of the middle of the road, punching that officer in the face, reaching for that officer’s weapon, before dying as he “bull-rushed” the officer he had just punched and tried to disarm?
See what I mean about a conversation? Who’s the coward? Not me.