The Washington Times - February 20, 2009, 09:22AM

First, we’re a nation of whiners, now we’re a nation of cowards. The cowardly comment comes from none other than President Barack Obama’s newly minted attorney general, Eric Holder. In context, the remarks were part of a speech Mr. Holder delivered for Black History Month. Yet, even in that context, the words come across as arrogant, condescending and not at all becoming a statesman.

One dictionary definition of coward is: lacking courage. Stinging words for a country at war where white and black men and women are shedding one color of blood just to be called cowards. Ironic, too, that Mr. Holder’s remarks come at a time when the nation has just elected its first black president and first black attorney general (Mr. Holder himself.) Forget that a majority of whites cast their ballot for a black man to lead the nation. Mr. Holder says “thanks” by calling them racist cowards. Did the attorney general not think about the weight his words would carry? Was he simply trying to be provocative? Is this his way of bringing the races together? Does his position or his color give him the bravado to think that he can get away with calling us cowards? Imagine for a moment if John McCain or George W. Bush uttered those words. A good ole’ fashioned lynching wouldn’t be good enough for them.


You’ll recall, it was just a few months back that a media frenzy erupted when former Sen. Phil Gramm called national leaders (not the nation) a bunch of “whiners.” Media pundits and broadcasters blasted Mr. Gramm for weeks, until he was finally forced off of McCain’s campaign. Mr. Gramm’s words, while true, were mild in comparison to Mr. Holder’s. Where is that same outrage and moral condemnation over Mr. Holder’s loose lips? It’s a rhetorical question of course since there is an obvious double-standard when it comes to who can say what about racism. And as much as we are constantly reminded of the past “mistakes” this country has made, is there nothing worth celebrating, times when racial harmony brought racial reconciliation? None of it made it to Mr. Holder’s speech. Instead, he choose the celebratory occasion to exact punishment by way of guilt.

It makes one wonder, why does every race speech by those on the left have to begin (and end) with repudiation and insult? Why must it be a constant reminder of what went wrong, without giving due diligence to what went right?

I will acknowledge the country can always do better when it comes to race but as much as Republicans are accused of refusing to admit racism exists, assuredly Democrats exploit it for every inch they can garner. They point fingers, threaten and name call without offering real solutions or substantive conversation.

One Democratic fellow forwarded me a letter he sent to Mr. Holder, telling the attorney general how much he “applauds” his remarks, but he had one request: “I would like to recommend that your office take the lead in ensuring the appointment of at least one African American on every committee and task force that is created by the President of the United States and current cabinet Secretary’s.” How’s that for affirmative action on demand? More like affirmative extortion. The writer also stated in closing: “Let us (by us he means black folks) take advantage of every opportunity that is before us.” I was particularly struck by the words “take advantage.” It is a line of thinking and supposed reasoning to justify black Americans getting what’s “due.” It also reveals a get it all while you can mentality that has nothing to do with parity, equality or justice, but guilt trips, paybacks and quotas.

This is not how the “case for race” should be made.

To be fair, there are some points Mr. Holder made of which I do agree (at least partially). “We, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race,” Mr. Holder stated. It is a challenge for each of us, black, white, Hispanic, Asian  to go outside of our comfort zone and reach out to someone “different” than ourselves (though I’ve done it my whole life.) It is an observation that while true, shouldn’t just apply to white people. It applies to black folks too. Yet, that’s where the discussion of race loses traction among liberals. Mr. Holder doesn’t really want to “talk” about race because the would entail not only encouraging blacks to reach but addressing but black racism  which we’ve seen in the likes of one Rev. Jeremiah Wright — in addition to white racism (and all racism.)

Yes, we are sometimes too “socially segregated,” as Mr. Holder put it, but cowards we are not. And mere rhetoric and rancor does nothing to elevate the discussion.

In contrast to Mr. Holder’s bombastic speech, President Bush’s Black History Month speech last year, was refreshingly retrospective without being pretentious. While condemning present day acts of racism (i.e. hanging nooses), Mr. Bush also offered a way forward. “We renew our commitment to securing liberty and justice for every American,” Mr. Bush said. “[W]e honor four Americans who… are leading the way (present tense) toward ending racial injustice across our land.”

Rhetoric aside, what was lacking from Mr. Holder’s remarks was not only a way forward, but instead of hope Mr. Holder offered more hate veiled in subtle anger. “Like the anger within the black community, these resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company,” Mr. Obama’s own words — spoken during his “race speech” — seems to sum it all up.

— Tara Wall, an editor for The Washington Times