February 20th, 2009
02:46 PM ET

Black cloud hovers over Holder

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/POLITICS/02/19/holder.folo/art.holderrace.gi.jpg]

Tony Perkins
Family Research Council

Attorney General Eric Holder has made more headlines with one speech than most government officials make with a hundred. To a roomful of Justice Department staff, Holder touched on the sensitive topic of racial reconciliation yesterday and ruffled many feathers in the process. "Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot," he said, "in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards..."

Today his remarks have been plastered on newspapers and become the subject du jour on the talk shows. Many people, including conservatives, have recoiled at Holder's observation, which ironically, only seems to prove his point. "Though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race." I think the Attorney General is correct, Americans have cowered to political correctness and as a result we avoid topics like race. The solution to racial reconciliation, however, is not to be found in a more aggressive Department of Justice but in a more aggressive church where we unite around ideals rooted not in skin color but in Jesus Christ.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Race in America • Raw Politics
soundoff (27 Responses)
  1. Paul Brady

    The AG's comments on race in America while totally inappropriate for that office are also totally correct. However, before we jump to conclusions about the reasons for this behavior we should rememberr that it's human nature and not necessarily racist for individuals to socialize with others based on precieved or real similarities.

    February 22, 2009 at 11:14 pm |
  2. Earl

    Eric Holder statements are difficult to accept, or just his poor understanding of cultural divides that are in this country a very natural and almost mundane. I really do not think that the majority American's are cowards and naturally choose to be prejudice or choose not associate with people of color and religious beliefs but are uncomfortable with the unknown rituals, beliefs and behaviors. The evolution of laws and the integration of society (aka mixed marriges and schools and universities) is what has led to a greater understanding and acceptance of people of color and cultural differences. This goes both ways. I believe he owes everyone an apology for the single fact that he represents the country as a whole, not an invidual.

    February 22, 2009 at 12:38 pm |
  3. Art

    I'am with Michael C of virgina. further more, you don't judge a book by its cover.

    February 22, 2009 at 10:55 am |
  4. Neo

    What would we talk about? Would it be a discussion or a lot of blame? Who's coward? I feel like the only brown girl who didn't want to sit with all the other black kids during lunch. Yeah they were cool and had their own 2 tables set off from everyone, but I didn't feel a big proclivity to hang out with them. Maybe it was my upbringing. Outside of police brutality where is there racism? How can you speak of racism and have an AA president in office? I was in high school in the 90's and now I'm in my late 20's does that make a difference?

    February 22, 2009 at 5:00 am |
  5. Marisa Blunt

    I wish that someone would acknowlege how hipocritical it is to have come sooo far in desegregation, to only see it created on the opposite end. How many award shows and luncheons etc. are only for african americans? Imagine "Caucasion award night." and what publicity that would cause. I am neither white nor black, but does anyone else see that we are now justifying new ways to segregate, my children will ask me, "mom why are there award shows just for blacks?" What do I say? Why havn't we learned from the past yet, why can't we move on?

    February 22, 2009 at 2:50 am |
  6. victor

    Mr Holder is entitiled to his opinion. We are Americans first in my book. Americans are RED, WHITE,and BLUE. Those are the only colors I recognize.

    February 22, 2009 at 2:33 am |
  7. Bashir

    'Conscience is an open wound only truth can heal',Mr holder was right because when some folks believe they are better just because the skin colour is different,its shows the shallowness of such people.Blacks,whites,arab,jews are all guilty.The best time to get it right is now! People should learn that the content of your character is more important than the colour of your skin.

    February 21, 2009 at 10:26 pm |
  8. Scott Neal

    When the president is an idiot, he is just an idiot. That does not make us cowards or racists. A coward needs to hide behind things like a race card. A coward cries racism when he is faced with the truth in criticism. A coward needs to have his constituancy defend him with "give him a chance" or "you are just a racist".A racist will not hire a man based on the color of his skin even if he is the best man for the job. A racist will also hire a total idiot based soley on the color of his skin and will defend his decision to do so even as that man destroys the company.....in this case....the country.

    February 21, 2009 at 8:39 pm |

    Holder’s statement was inappropriate as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the US—-and yes he judged this nation and all its people. I am offended and he is the racists. On the other hand I believe our socialist presidnet will be Race as an issue in his term inoffice.

    February 21, 2009 at 6:05 pm |
  10. Chris

    The problem is that you cannot address racial issues in in public or social circles without offending someone, there is always someone offended by something. It is easier to be cowardly or not deal with it at all. If you think this is an American problem you are very misinformed, we have some of the most civil race relations of any nation on earth.
    If you want my opinion the black community is the most racist group in the country, some of which might be justified due to the countries history. The U.S. will be better off when the black community starts forgiving the past and sees the bright future that is ahead of them if they choose to go after it. Where else in the world is there more opportunity? Quite complaining!

    February 21, 2009 at 2:23 pm |
  11. Larry L.

    Only 13. % percent of people in our country are black ,13%,that is all,we are allowing 13 % of our population to dictate what the other 87 % are suppose to think and act because 200 years ago they were slaves,but for the last 50 years they have had special treatment by our society and government,and still all they do is play the race card,this is not right.

    February 21, 2009 at 7:53 am |
  12. Zyworski

    While I generally agree with Attorney General Holder, I just want to point out that alienation originates from both sides of the racial divide. It should be everyones personal responsibility to work towards a fair, just, and equal society.

    February 21, 2009 at 2:58 am |
  13. Glen Up North

    According to the accounts (if I recall correctly), Jesus Christ walked amongst the sinners and never judged unless the person he judged was judging someone else first. (This, of course, excludes the issue involving the merchants in the Temple, which is understandable.) If I were to find a church where these ideals I just described were espoused and people would not judge me for my shortcomings, but help to contribute in establishing an environment, in which I was accepted along with my shortcomings, and that those I could change were given open opportunity to change without experiencing judgement or being made to feel lesser than others... I believe a lot of people would be open to joining a church like that as well. I shudder, however, at the thought of a "more aggressive church" of which you speak.

    February 21, 2009 at 12:02 am |
  14. Bridget, TX

    I understand some folks can't deal with the truth, on the other hand, untl we address our demons we will always be a country divided. It is great having an AG who isn't afraid to state the truth and let the people gripple with how or if they'll take heed and act on his words.

    February 20, 2009 at 11:09 pm |
  15. Aldin in Texas

    Several years ago a friend and I decided to take in some live music and have a drink after work. As we approached the venue he was hesitant to walk in. He stated that the place was full of mostly African Americans and he felt uncomfortable. I said to him welcome to my world as almost every day I go somewhere in which I am the only African American or one of the few including in the office in which we worked. He thought about it and I think on that day he gained a deeper understanding of one of the dynamics of race relations in America. I don't think that everyone just "naturally" gravitates to being with their own kind. I think that people are forced to associate with certain groups determined by where they live, what they are taught and the kind of exposure they have had to other races and cultures.

    February 20, 2009 at 11:05 pm |
  16. Wardell katrina Survivor

    WAKE UP AMERICA, the man had a point,but the truth is America doesn't want to look in the mirror and see the evil, ugly, passed staring back at it,Now I ask is this ' THE LAND OF THE FREE, AND THE HOME OF THE BRAVE", why, because at one time it was "THE LAND OF THE SLAVE and THE HOME OF THE COWARD", that's the story, you can't change it, but you can address it, I don't think the church will do it , because the church is FULL of HYPOCRITIES, beware of false prophets, to be a christian, means to be CHRIST-like, EVERYDAY,thats not happening, I'm not trying to judge, I'll leave that to GOD. In this country we live by the LAW. THE CONSTITUTION, but it has not been applied equally,some think their better than me, because of skin color,truth be told, I came from KINGS and QUEENS, but that was stolen from me,but the constitution says that I have the right to LIFE,LIBERTY, AND THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS,now when you violate that , you become a criminal,an this country is FULL of criminals,the law you wrote, which if you can't address, makes YOU A COWARD. any questions???I have lived in the deep south almost all of my life, I grew up playing with white kids, I didn't know my color made a difference,life had to teach me that.Because I was a black, black ( child ) ,I experienced discrimation from some BLACKS, and racism from some WHITES,it was a pain full lesson, but I became stronger for it,Now give me my 40 ac. and keep the mule. The Jewish people are STILL. looking for justice, I don't blame them,Native AMERICAN are living without running water, TODAY, in OUR country, Yes, when it comes right down to it, we have a bunch of COWARDS, not everybody, but if you don't say anything are you not as GUILTY. Don't blame the messenger, address the message!! CHRISTIANS, and whomever.This man can enforce the LAW, which so many have tried not too. This is AMERICAN HISTORY month, face it, it's personal,each and everyone of US. Now DEAL with IT. GOD, HELP US, and God bless ALL of you.

    February 20, 2009 at 9:41 pm |
  17. RockyRacoon

    And oh yeah, the family research council? Christianity dressed up as science. The only mistake OBAMA is making is providing further funding to faith based organizations. Separation of Church and State. And oh yeah, instead of the people who are afraid of nationalizing the banks lets have some guests who are in favour of it. Since Capitalism is global and these institutions have no allegience to the flag the only way to have a national economy is if the government of the people for the people by the people own and control it.

    February 20, 2009 at 8:02 pm |
  18. RockyRacoon

    As the NYP cartoon indicates, the A.G. was exactly on the mark with his comment. Deal with it!

    February 20, 2009 at 7:32 pm |
  19. Jim M

    Too harsh of words? Perhaps. But what I understood from his comments is a continuing need for Iindividual persons of all races to look inward and more openly consider other persons on their individual merits.

    February 20, 2009 at 7:22 pm |
  20. Barbara in Boston

    Tony, fine solution for Christians who go to church, but what about the rest of us?

    February 20, 2009 at 6:47 pm |
  21. JAN

    The ag speaks the truth. The truth hurts those to whom the truth fits.

    Coward is the word that fits when it comes to racism. Whyd di the kkk wear sheets over their faces. because they are and were cowards.

    February 20, 2009 at 6:32 pm |
  22. JAN

    The AG speaks the truth and the truth hurts those who the shoe fits.

    February 20, 2009 at 6:30 pm |
  23. 1banjo

    "We are a Nation of Cowards when it comes to mingling with other ethnic people."

    Can we take the insult out of the natural inclination of people to mingle with their own kind? Many studies have confirmed this. If you want to put a PC template on it, everybody is racist except the Sherrys of the world who see things as they ought to be, not as they are.

    February 20, 2009 at 6:13 pm |
  24. Don

    First of all there is only ONE RACE, the HUMAN RACE. We are simply different ethnic variations of that Human Race.

    Second, Attorney General Holder is absolutely correct. Every time the issue of ethnic differences come up some people get defensive and try to either skirt the subject or accuse the person bringing the topic up of causing friction or some other form of dissention in the group.

    It's time for us to step up to the plate and confront this issue head-on, because until we do this the U.S. will never rise above internal self-segregation and mistrust of its own community.

    February 20, 2009 at 6:10 pm |
  25. Arachnae

    The solution to racial reconciliation, however, is not to be found in a more aggressive Department of Justice but in a more aggressive church where we unite around ideals rooted not in skin color but in Jesus Christ.

    Tell you what, let's leave justice to the Department of Justice and not in Tony Perkin's sectarian hands.

    February 20, 2009 at 5:57 pm |
  26. Sherry, N. Calif.

    He was talking to every American, green, purple, etc. He is right. We are a Nation of Cowards when it comes to mingling with other ethnic people. We are all guilty. When was the last time you went to an affair when you knew the majority would be African-Americans? Seems the whites are the majority here in America. We do not have a "celebrate white day" because if we did it would be considered "racist." So Hispanics have their Cinco De Mayo and we need a day to celebrate being white? Maybe this would help the whites get over their prejudical ways. The African Americans need to get over it too. I am no Honkey or whitey! It is okay for them to call me that and they are not called RACIST? I think not. It is racist. I can't call them the "N" word? Why would I? It is rude and I am white with spots(freckles). I am ashamed of my race at times when they do things that reflect on all of us. The cartoon guy for an example. What was he thinking? He is a racist-it was not funny. It made me MAD. We all need to work on it, together as human beings. I am going to an African Amercican event tomorrow. I bet there will be very few white people there. I don't care. I am no coward. I will go by myself. I am taking another step among many steps taken already by me towards race relations. I hope it sends a message in my community that it is okay. We can all attend events because you are white, black, purple, or green, etc. Everyone take a step.

    February 20, 2009 at 5:26 pm |
  27. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Although some of Americans may avoid topics like race--you should not judge [all] Americans by the actions of a few--Holder's statement was inappropriate as the Chief Law Enforcement Officer of the US--and yes he [judged] a nation and all its people-and if any color is to be mentioned in this time of crisis--it should be [green].

    February 20, 2009 at 3:14 pm |