Monday, February 23, 2009

You Talkin' To Me?

I wouldn't suppose anyone likes to be called a coward, even if you are one. Yet Attorney General Eric Holder said we were a "nation of cowards," when it comes to discussing matters of race. I understand Holder's purpose was to chastise and challenge people of all races about our national unwillingness to have a dialogue about what is really going on in our society, but only a month after we elected our first African-American president with an unprecedented outpouring of good will, and only two weeks since Holder was sworn in as our first black Attorney General, was "cowards" the wisest terminology to describe American society? Where I come from, those are fighting words. I recall another first, Andrew Young, who became Secretary to the United Nations under Jimmy Carter, and in debate with the British delegation said the English were intimately familiar with racism since "they pretty much invented it." What he said may have been factually correct, but his job description was supposedly to be a diplomat.

Perhaps I've lived in the South so long that I've developed a touch of redneck, but Holder's comments unexpectedly made my blood rise. It was akin to being a kid on the playground being pushed to the ground by the class bully. You can either sit there and put your cowardice on display, or charge the bully and try to inflict as much physical pain as possible while simultaneously praying that someone is there to break it up. There are, in fact, readers of this post that if you called "cowards" to their face, your next act would be gathering your teeth from the floor. I'm a pacifist who understands the intention, but Holder's unfortunate choice of words served to inflame many of the people who were already on his side and feeling uplifted over our historical national achievement. The really unfortunate part of this episode is that Holder is right about the need for racial dialogue, but his message was lost in the rancor of his clumsy and intentional provocation.

Holder succeeded in pretty much offending everyone, including, I imagine, President Obama. The President has so far been very careful to be non-confrontational and inclusive in his speeches, I wonder if Holder ran that little doozy past him first? In a joint appearance shortly after the inauguration, when Joe Biden joked about Chief Justice John "No Notes" Roberts mangling the Oath of Office, Barack grabbed his elbow and gave him a glance like a parent would a feckless child. I hardly believe the President would approve of his new Attorney General, in one of his first public speeches, making well-intentioned but ultimately divisive remarks. A racial discussion would be a good thing, but just right now, it's a few notches down in urgency than the economy, health care, and fending off an impending Depression. First, clean up the Justice Department, then we'll talk.

In fact, had Holder taken the long view, he might have seen what I have in recent years. I am among the remaining members of a generation who never sat in a classroom with a black student until I reached college. Attempting inter-racial friendships took some outreach and understanding on all parties, but I was never afraid to discuss race with anyone. Early on, I noticed a curious thing about both whites and blacks from a segregated society attempting to talk to one another for the first times. Whites would adapt some imagined hip-patois or jive lingo trying to relate to blacks, while blacks would become stricter and more pronounced in speech with white people than they were with each another. I managed to find a way to be constant in my behavior with everyone while resisting the temptation to perform multi-layered handshakes. An entire generation of people are still awkward around each other simply because of their forced separation in childhood. Such is not the case with young people like my step-son, Cameron, who know not the curse of segregation.

I marvelled at the seamlessness of his friendships with people of all races. Cameron didn't have "black" friends, or "Asian" friends, they were all just his friends. Holder's "nation of cowards" is of a certain generation, a remnant from the past when races were separated by law, along with the casualties of the "Reagan Revolution" who were either enriched or institutionally impoverished by "trickle-down" economics. Like 1968, we are a nation divided by young and old, rich and poor, black and white, Christians and everybody else. But the warriors of the Civil Rights movement, as well as their opponents, are rapidly aging now, soon to be replaced by this post-racial society we speak of, but have yet to experience in our time. Since Eric Holder was being blunt to make a point, let me be blunt as well. General Holder, before you come out swinging wildly and calling people of good will "cowards," you may wish to first display some personal courage yourself. The conflagration at Waco and the storm-trooper mission to retrieve Elian Gonzales are not sterling references on your resume. I already know you will be a wiser Attorney General than John Ashcroft or Alberto Gonzales by default, but maybe you should shut up until you have at least passed the Janet Reno threshold.

29 comments:

Anonymous said...

Roland Burris' perjury before the Il. legislature so that he could beoome the first black U.S. senator might be a good place for Holder to issue an opinion! I have an opinion, and I've certainly got my cowardice card on hold for this one!

zephyrman

brother bill said...

sen. ed brooke from mass. served in the senate two terms from 1/3/67 until 1/3/79. he was the first black senator to serve since the 19th century.

on the topic: gen. holder made a serious mistake. not at all in the spirit of the "movement". i suspect he better not do that again.

Skip said...

Another great piece of writing! The speech, I hope was to try to stimulate some type of dialog that seemed to be lost on the majority of the population. You and I both know a lot of people who claim to have friends of color, but don't know their last names, where they grew up or anything relevant about who they really are because they want to be politically correct or hip. I hope he meant that justice would be served on an equal plane and not the way the good ole' boys have and are still doing today! Hopefully change is coming! Peace my pink brother, Skeetro

Mitch@Organizing for America said...

Randolph --

President Obama launched the most ambitious effort to stimulate the economy in our nation's history when he signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act on Tuesday.

Your representatives need to hear from you when they vote for the change you mandated in November. Doing what's right can be thankless when the culture of Washington tries to make political games out of the issues that matter to everyday Americans.

You're part of a powerful grassroots movement that can change that dynamic. According to our records, you live in Tennessee's 9th district.

Rep. Steve Cohen's vote was crucial to passing the bill and creating and saving jobs in Tennessee.

Can you pick up the phone right now to thank Rep. Cohen?

Rep. Steve Cohen
202-225-3265

ghg said...

He really did raise your ire, didn't he? Pretty sharp there, RJ. But, I didn't hear the speech so context is unavailable to me. I agree with you that he has a lot to do in the next few years. Hope he can muster the courage he seeks in others to deal with Justice. We shall see.

Anonymous said...

I am a retired public school educator with a total of 36 years of experience. The kids of all races in today's schools get along remarkably well, because they have grown up together since pre-school. However, I must attest to the fact that blacks and whites, though they socialize well with one another up to a point, still segregate themselves by choice in their seating patterns in the classrooms, in the cafeteria, in the auditorium during assemblies, at pep rallies, and on the school busses. This is by their own free choice and it is merely a reflection of the fact that they feel more comfortable and can relate better to their own kind. No offense is intended toward anyone else. I know that this fact makes social engineers climb the walls. I will not be surprised if the day comes when teachers will be required by the government to break up these patterns of freely chosen segregation by supervision and assigning seating patterns to create a more favorable racial balance. And you can take this to the bank, the government someday will require each person who changes their residence to move to a neighborhood of their racial opposite. I suspect that Holder has something like this in mind, and I also suspect that the fact that the census will be run through the White House has something like this in mind. These measures will just be a logical extension of the thinking behind bussing. There will be no end to the government's intrusion in our lives to make us conform to the government's vision of 'The Great Society'. Grab hold of your asses, because socialism is not just a way of re-distributing wealth. It is also a means of forcing individuals to conform to all sorts of government mandates that we will be finding out about for years to come. Kiss freedom goodbye. The government feels that it knows what is best for us and individual freedom is an impediment to its aims. This is the real reason behind the efforts to disarm the citizens. The founding fathers knew that there is a tendency for centralized government to become tyrannical. A disarmed public will make it easier for them to enslave us. I never could figure out why liberals are so against freedom. I guess they feel that freedom creates inequalities, which it certainly does, because people are variously motivated to develop their talents and to put forth effort. This, along with inborn talent differentials, tend to create stratification in society. However, all of this can be eliminated by the taking away of freedom and the forced re-distribution of wealth.

Anonymous said...

The reason that whites tend to be somewhat cowardly in regard to racial dialogue is that if the dialogue doesn't conform to what blacks want to hear, then all hell can break lose for the person who makes the mistake. He can lose his job and be made a social pariah. For safety's sake, every statement must be carefully considered to avoid this fate. Even if the truth must be distorted or withheld. I worked for several years under an incredibly rascist black supervisor who would look me in the eye and tell me that he hated everything white. If he read something in the paper or if an election didn't go the way he wanted, he would take it out on me and I couldn't do anything but take it. He hated me because he wanted a black to have my job and he told me so. I was suppose to be in training for a professional job, but he made me a file clerk for my first year of employment. When I went to upper management with my grievances, I was told that we (whites) have to swallow some things like what I was going through and that nothing could be done about it. Upper level management was even fearful of rocking the boat and causing a racial stir. The point is that if I tried to engage in honest dialogue with this person, I would have been crucified. I had to be a coward because I had a family with bills to be paid and I had too many years invested in my career to change at that point. I'll bet that there are countless stories like mine, though they may not be quite as perverse. It is nearly impossible for whites to have honest and open dialogue with blacks, because heaven forbid if you say the 'wrong' thing.

Father Farken said...

Bravo Randy! For speaking your mind! You are a brave little Pisser I'll say that! But I have a question! Are you truly a pacifist? I've witnessed you successfully connect the knockout blow to the best of them with just a few punches from your key board!You are definitely not a coward! For that we are thankful! Our beloved Atty. Gen. Eric "Please don't be another political Butt" Hol(e)der should have realized that we have had our fill of arrogance from the last administration. But there he goes with his version of a BRING IT ON! moment!
And I know our president has to play the hand that was dealt him but he campaigned with such a hopeful vision for our country! He said our past administration used fear to get us into war with Iraq! That we should have debated the issue! He promised that all future legislation would be open & transparent...open to debate...no surprises thrown in with the pork salad! Has this administration used the policies of fear..without debate...scaring the $#&# out of us to get this mysterious Stimulus Package passed? Isn't blind trust what our president campaigned against! I just feel an important bill with as many pages as the Bible with so little time to read it should have been as open & transparent as was promised! OK!President Obama! You Speak this week! What up? I am praying for you!
Randy & people of the BAH (including Doug the Dog, Nature Boy & Rep.Steve Cohen), please forgive me for my lack of political insight & savy but we have gone from blow job to snow job in our white House! Our leaders & our nation or in me prayers! I will never give up! Forgive my rant!The Peace of the Lord! FFF

Father Farken said...

Since I have my Snuggie blanket all in a wad let me say this! Mickey Rourke! You wuz robbed for that wuz your Oscar. Sean Penn! You are a fantastic actor but last night you were given a gift! As Randy the Wrestler taught us...No matter what we are the greatest battle is always the struggle within...overcoming the bullshit of the self! Go n' piss! FR.FARKEN

Anonymous said...

Father Farken, one of the reasons that the stimulus bill was hurried so that it couldn't be discussed or debated is that it was full of Trojan horses. It contained legislation which begins socialized health care for one thing. And Daschle recommended slipping that in on a budget bill to circumvent Senate protocol. He also recommended that it be implemented in stages so that its full scope couldn't be seen at once. Also, the bill contained legislation which undid Clinton's welfare reform. Rather than reward states for putting able-bodied welfare recipients to work, it now rewards states for adding people to the welfare rolls. And of course we all know about the questionable pork in it and the fact that most of it does nothing to stimulate the economy in the short term. A cynic might be led to believe that the Democrats are using the occasion to load up all of their pet pork projects that they couldn't get through the previous Republican majority. Think Pelosi and her precious marsh mice for $30 million. Sounds to me like its pretty much politics as usual in Washington only its now done by folks who are masters at the art of peeing on your leg while convincing you that it is only raining which is the mark of the consumate politician. Same old screw job on most of the country only using socialist techniques...the end is justified by the means and lie, lie, lie, with a smile on your face of course. And Father Farken you must know that Hollywood rewarded Penn with the Oscar for his far left views. They are the same bunch who gave the Oscar to the group who sang the touching 'It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp'. Don't be a Pollyanna.

SIREEN said...

Dear Fr. Farken! Let Me help pull that Snuggie Blanket out of your ...uh...let me help you! We are imploding as a nation economically! We don't have time to debate Jack Splat! It is time to stimulate that economy PERIOD but I will end this sentence with an exclamation point! Will your holiness please get out of the way while the American Moses parts the waters for our economical recovery! And anyway this administration has only been around for a week & you Know deep down inside that this group just has to be better than Dufus & Co. that helped create this environment of nothingness in the 1st place! There I said it! Thank you Jesus! Yours truly! SIREEN

Anonymous said...

Sireen! A week? How about a month or so?

Sputnik57 said...

Dear Mitch at Organizing for America. I'll save myself the cost of a long distance call and just say, "Thank you, Rep. Steve." Now go out there and get Karl Rove.
Randolph

Anonymous said...

I guess it never crossed Holder's mind that it is easy for blacks to be 'brave' when it comes to racial discourse, because they can say anything that they damn well please. Blacks can call whites any pejorative that they choose, and can blame or accuse whites of anything that they want whether or not it is founded in reality. Look at the latest fiasco involving the chimp cartoon. Only the most paranoid of race-baiters can construe the cartoon as racially insulting. That is a perfect example of what I am talking about. That cartoonist is probably already looking for a new job. Blacks have a complete carte blanche when it comes to what they say in the matter of racial discourse. But, not so with whites. There are strict standards that have to be followed. Run afoul of the strict politically correct rules which can be very tricky because the rules change from situation to situation, and because if any black takes offense at anything that is said or implied then all hell can break out for the (supposed) offender. Whites are forced to be cowardly when it comes to racial discourse because it is a veritable minefield of things that could cost a person his job or even his future. We can all thank the PC crowd for the oppresion of the thought police who have their ears pricked to pounce upon and to destroy anyone who runs afoul of their rules. And the second amendment affords no protection from these later day Nazis. Another example of loss of freedom thanks to the liberals in our midst. Like another blogger said, freedom gets in the way of their agenda. They are only tolerant of those who share their views and will fight like hell to suppress free discourse for fear that their agendas might be set back.

Anonymous said...

The term that covers all of the means that liberals use to suppress individual freedom in order to advance their agenda is Liberal Fascism. They are just a little more subtle than the Nazi book burners. They profess with their mouths to be champions of liberty and the Bill of Rights while working fervently to undermine these things if they get in the way of their goals. Think of their assaults upon the first and second amendments for instance. This explains a lot in regard to why they do what they do. Their unspoken motto is, 'Let us do evil that good may come of it'. If someone differs philosophically with them, they will demonize them and discredit them by any means necessary, even if that means using their most effective means which is the lie. They are the spawn of their spiritual father, The Father of Lies. There is no truth in them, only a hellish determination to implement their agenda and freedom of dissent is their chief enemy. They only protect the freedom of those who agree with them which is not freedom at all.

Anonymous said...

An excellent example of Liberal Fascism is the concerted way in which the liberal media sought to destroy Sarah Palin. Not one mention was made of any good for which she stood. No pats on the back for what a commoner had made of herself. It was the equivalent of a journalistic lynching just because the principles for which she stood were abhorred by the left. And the women's movement which is aligned with the far left let one of their sisters twist in the wind because she dared to stand for conservative values. What hypocrisy. I thought that she was a poor choice for veep myself, but I was appalled by the viciousness and the lack of basic respect and complete disregard of her humanity shown her by the 'champions of tolerance' a.k.a. the political left. She was not qualified to be veep, but she should have been treated in a more civil manner and with a little more dignity. The McCain/Palin ticket was doomed from the get-go. The press could have completely ignored them and Obama would have won by a landslide anyway. They caved under the weight of their own incompetency. The vitriol was unnecessary.

Anonymous said...

Why are you whining about Sarah Palin's mistreatment by the liberal press? Conservative blacks have always been lynched by the liberal press for daring to step out of line and for not acknowledging 'their place' in the order of things. If anyone has reason to complain about Liberal Fascism it is conservative blacks.

Mr Natural said...

I am a fair and balanced commentator. My position is that the Republicans are absolutely contemptible, while the Democrats are beneath contempt. The average Joes who do all of the hard work that keeps the country afloat are innocent. It is the f-ing politicians who are destroying the country with the help of some capitalist pigs. Most politicians should be executed for treason and the capitalist pigs who have weakened the country should be given life sentences. My heart goes out to all of the folks who work hard every day, skinning their knuckles, suffering from heat and cold to do the vital things to pave our roads, provide our food, utilities, etc. The white-collar criminals who pass as our leaders lift nothing heavier than their brief cases and do nothing harder than to figure out ways to fleece the hard working folks of this country. It's time for a revolution.

Sputnik57 said...

Hey Mr. Anon. What I was going for here was an attempt at a racial dialogue, not a diatribe. I'm sorry your racial experiences have been negative. You should have tried harder when you were younger. Nothing can defeat a visceral love of mankind, which is the same as love of God. Try empathizing with those who you only know from what the news feeds you. Black America can no longer be defined in monolithic terms, just as any other group of people possesses both excellence and mediocrity. Your comments are a testament to that.

Anonymous said...

The point wasn't really the bad experience that I had on the job at one time. That experience lasted for three years and was exquisitely painful and humiliating for me. Over the course of my life, I have had by far more positive experiences with minorities than bad. My point was that it is more difficult for whites to be open and honest in racial dialogue than it is for blacks. There is a glaring double standard and everyone knows it, but it is another case of the emperor's new clothes. No one wants to look squarely at the issue and call it what it is, namely unfair and imbalanced. Apparently, everyone from mainstreet to the talking heads in the news knows this but you. Dialogue is no good if the playing field is not level. Whites will always be fearful of saying the wrong thing and of being crucified for it. As long as that is the case, there will be no truly open and honest dialogue. There is a built in dysfunctionality. I have seen countless instances where whites speak one way amongst themselves and an entirely different way in the employee lunch room when talking to minorities. There is a palpable fear of saying the wrong thing or of otherwise giving offense that produces a revolting duplicity that becomes apparent as soon as they find themselves in an all white audience again. As long as that condition prevails, nothing will move forward in the way of honest dialogue. It only perpetuates hypocrisy. And, believe it or not, I am quite fond of blacks. I relish their personalities and their sense of humor and many other of their inscrutable, but charming qualities. I recently had a relationship on the job with a young black man that I would have been honored to have as my son-in-law. I really loved the guy. In fact, I have loved many blacks throughout the years and have known a large number that are vastly superior to me in terms of character. So much for your harsh prejudgment of me. I just have to be honest before I can be reverent.

Sputnik57 said...

Mr. Anon.
I was judgemental and apologise.
Sputnik57
(named in honor of that great referee of life, Sputnik Monroe.)

Gimme a Break said...

Randolph

I'm not ready to thank anyone, until I see some results.
Aren't you interested in how all this will pan out?
You've already delcared this a success and it's been like two days.

Anonymous said...

Liberals don't really care about results. They will try to implement failed ideas over and over again thinking that if they just hold their mouths right this time, or spend more money then it will work. And they will bankrupt the country in the process. Hell, all they have to do is keep raising taxes. They will recriminate, spin, lie, bullshit, etc. if their ideas don't work. Good intentions and pie in the sky are all they care about. Whether or not their ideas will work is of no consequence. Symbolism above substance is their watchword. It is going to be very interesting to see if they can get the American economy back on track with their mania for spending. To this point Wall St. is saying no way. For that matter everyone who has ever had to work to make a living and live within his means or who has had to make a payroll and a profit is looking askance at the way the Democrats are handling the situation. And the kicker is that the Republicans are just about as inept. I may be time to trade our ballots for bullets.

sireen said...

I believe it was Brother Shabazz that said "IF YOU HAVE NO CRITICS, YOU WILL LIKELY HAVE NO SUCCESS."
Why in the hell can't our Atty General Eric Holder be an effective AG of the USA & speak honestly in behalf of African Americans. He had the coconuts to say that we are a coconut-less nation when it comes to any significant racial dialogue. Some of you white brothers bitch about political correctness so much & expect the rest of the world to live up to your version of what you think political correctness is. As Dr.Boyce Watkins says, " Yes we are a nation of cowards & until we (all Americans!)gain the courage to have honest conversations, we are always going to be plagued by race. Dreams (like Martin's)are created while we are sleeping. But these dreams are fulfilled when our eyes are wide open & we are wide awake! Wake up America....it's time to be honest." By the way, Brother Shabazz that I quoted is Malcolm X. I just didn't want to scare the living shit out of good old Mr. Anonymous or whoever! Eric Holder, President Obama & Sputnik57! YOU HAVE MY RESPECT! There! In His Service! Yours Truly!
SIREEN

Anonymous said...

Sireen, it is easy for you to speak about honest racial dialogue. The catch 22 of 'honest' racial dialogue is that blacks can say anything they damn well please wihout any fear of repercussions. The dialogue of whites is constrained by any number of politically correct strictures and if they are honest enough to cross any of the presribed lines in the sand then they are subject to all kinds of persecution. As long as this is the case, there will NEVER be honest racial dialogue. You can't be fully honest with a loaded gun aimed at your head...unless you are willing to die for what you have to say.

Anonymous said...

Holy Bat Shit Robin, Mr Anon. you got a butt load of hate all up in you, don't ya? Must really suck to be such an unhappy sounding asshole.Bet your folks are proud, so much hate. Whew, not good.

Anonymous said...

Just telling it like it is, Sireen. Nothing gets liberals hopping mad like telling them the truth. And they usually respond to whoever tells them the truth by calling them names like hate-monger, etc. Grow up! If I really told the truth that I have witnessed first hand over the decades having worked in government all of my life, you would probably be hemorraging blood and putting a contract out on me. Rationality is very difficult for liberals to handle, but I guess that can't be helped. Even commentators on news shows have complained about how paranoid they are about discussing racial issues for fear of saying the 'wrong' thing and bringing retribution from the P.C. police down on them. The only people who don't have this fear are blacks, and whites who desperately cling to politically correct orthodoxy. They have no fear because they always say the 'right' things. They are not incumbered by facts or the truth. It is the equivalent of a mental disorder. At the very least it is a permanent fixation on the emperor's new clothes syndrome.

sireen said...

Mr. Anonymusufluficus! That last person you were responding to...that was not me. I am not the holy bat shit person. Don't know anything about Batman or bat shit for that matter! Bats scare the hell out of me. On the other hand Samuel L. Jackson...He does it for me. He is my Dark Knight of this Soul Sistah...Soul Sistah... Gotcha Gotcha Nah Nah Nah or however the hell that song goes...just so you know where I'm coming from. Now Sputnik Apologized so graciously & so do I. If I have offended thee in anyway way... please forgive me. I realize there are more than one way to be a Caucasian & there are more than one way to be Black. & forgive me for not recognizing Native Hyphens, Asian Hyphens, Eastern Hyphens & all the other hyphenated Bleepidybleeping people calling themselves Americans! Damn! No wonder you're pissed. Hell! This country ain't no Melting Pot! It's a damn Brunswick Stew! God created diversity & I do not think it was to piss us off!
Now listen to this! Blacks were brought over here by Europeans with some help of other Africans to be slaves but God brought Blacks over here to be Liberators!Not just for Blacks but for every body! {Read about Joseph & his brothers selling him into slavery. They meant it for Evil but God meant it for good! Same thing happening! Joseph forgave his brothers! Blacks are forgiving people also! Anon. hang in there! As Fr. Fergus says...Don't give up! This is our Fathers world! Great things a wait us! Thank you Jesus! In His Service! Yours truly!
Sireen

SIREEN said...

DON'T THEY MAKE BULLETS, GUN POWDER OR SOME EXPLOSIVE SHIT OUT OF BAT POOP? I BET MR. ANONYMOUS KNOWS? JUST TRYING TO CLEAR UP THE HOLY BAT BLEEP THING! TRULY! SIREEN