- - Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Have you heard the one about the black attorney general who sits down with a black reporter from ABC News to talk about America’s first black president? “Sure is a lot of racism,” says the AG. Rim shot.

Yeah, not a very funny joke. But that’s the point — it’s not a joke. It actually happened last week.

Eric H. Holder Jr., the first black man ever to hold the post of attorney general, sat down with senior Justice Department reporter Pierre Thomas for an interview.

“There’s a certain level of vehemence, it seems to me, that’s directed at me [and] directed at the president,” he said. “You know, people talking about taking their country back. I can’t look into peoples’ hearts, look into peoples’ minds, but it seems to me that this president has been treated differently than others There’s a certain racial component to this for some people.”

What is funnier than the opening joke is the fact that Mr. Holder really believes this. To him, it’s impossible for Americans to oppose President Obama, to object to his policies and his actions simply on the basis of politics. No, those opponents who want to talk about “taking their country back” simply must be racist.

Former U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Joe diGenova ripped the comments as “beneath his office,” even saying that the attorney general “has become unhinged.”

“These comments are stupid, they’re silly, they’re churlish, they’re childish, they’re sophomoric,” he continued on WMAL radio. “This is faculty lounge crap. The president of the United States and the attorney general are both black. Is it not surprising to them that this happened in the United States of America? That the president, a black president, has been elected twice by the American people? That the attorney general has been around for two terms?”

Mr. diGenova said America is not a racist country, which isn’t altogether true. There is racism in America, without question. Blacks still get targeted by racist white police officers, cab drivers still sometimes opt for a white passenger instead of a black one.

And here’s a fact: There will be racism in America in a thousand years, still. There will always be those pockets of ignorance and hate, perhaps in the South, but more likely out West, where the Aryan Nation and white supremacy groups are setting up camp.

But Mr. diGenova did nail the fact that blacks in the administration — or the media — often play the race card to distract from the failed policies of the president. And he noted the irony of the interview itself.

“It’s mind-boggling that the attorney general could sit there with a major news network, being interviewed by a black correspondent — by the way who’s a wonderful reporter — and say things like this.”

Brad Thor, a New York Times best-selling author, went even further. “Mr. Holder, the one true racist in this dialogue is you,” he said. “You see everything through the prism of race. You are the racist. You are using racism to cover up the inadequacy of the performance of the president of the United States, and the absolute dereliction of duty in your office. You, sir, are the racist.”

In the interview with Mr. Thomas, the attorney general said he “wouldn’t walk away” from a 2009 speech he gave in which he called the United States “a nation of cowards” on the topic of race.

“I think we are still a nation that is too afraid to confront racial issues,” he said, adding that Americans still do not reach out to “one another across the color line [to] talk about racial issues.”

But while Mr. Holder blames racist Americans for that, the real fault lies with Mr. Obama. He has said far less about race in America than his predecessors — bizarre given the fact that he is half black and half white. When Americans voted him into office in 2008, many were hoping that doing so would move the nation far away from its history of slavery and Jim Crow.

They were, of course, correct. That the country’s first black attorney general last week sat down with a prominent black reporter to discuss the policies of the first black president means America has come a long way on race.

And that’s no joke.

Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times. He can be reached at [email protected] and on Twitter @josephcurl.

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