EDITORIAL: Holder ill serves his ‘people’

Attorney general admits to race-based view of the world

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Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. played the race card in congressional testimony on Tuesday, referring to blacks as his “people” while neglecting the rest of Americans. That race-based lens pervades his Justice Department, causing consistently skewed enforcement of the law.

Mr. Holder was testifying before the House Appropriations subcommittee that oversees his department’s budget. Chairman Frank R. Wolf, Virginia Republican, and Rep. John Culberson, Texas Republican, pressed Mr. Holder to stop giving evasive answers about scandals growing from the New Black Panther voter-intimidation case. Agitated, Mr. Holder objected to a statement by witness Bartle Bull that Panther behavior was the worst the civil rights activist had ever seen at the polls. “When you compare what people endured in the South in the ‘60s to try to get the right to vote for African-Americans, to compare what people subjected to that with what happened in Philadelphia … does a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line, who risked all for my people,” Mr. Holder said.

His people? America left behind this sort of expression in the 1960s. “By sounding like Al Sharpton, Holder is demeaning his position as the chief law enforcement officer of the United States,” said Deneen Borelli of the black conservative organization Project 21.

Mr. Holder has a history of stoking racial resentments. In 2009, he quipped that “in things racial” Americans form “a nation of cowards.” In 1996, he told The Washington Post that for 25 years he carried in his wallet a quote from a black preacher that, “No matter how affluent, educated and mobile [a black person] becomes, his race defines him more particularly than anything else.” To which Mr. Holder added: “It really says that … I am not the tall U.S. attorney, I am not the thin U.S. attorney. I am the black U.S. attorney. And [the preacher] was saying that no matter how successful you are, there’s a common cause that bonds the black U.S. attorney with the black criminal or the black doctor with the black homeless person.”

In short, race comes first. It makes allies, not adversaries, of black criminals and prosecutors. On Tuesday, Mr. Holder again dodged questions asking him to deny that Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes had told her division to prosecute only civil rights cases involving black victims, not black perpetrators. He refused to release relevant documents about the decision-making behind dropping most of the Black Panther case. For two years, Justice has pressed for explicitly race-conscious legal action.

Mr. Holder doesn’t understand that while he’s attorney general, his “people” are all citizens of the United States, not just black Americans. Unless he stops stonewalling on documents from the broader investigation stemming from the Black Panther case, his every action will be viewed through the racial prism he himself has chosen.

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