What Fresh Hell Is This?

February 27, 2009

From Tony, The Norman

In today's P-G:

Perhaps I spoke too soon last week when I described U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's approach to starting a national discussion about race as "ham-fisted." You'll recall that Mr. Holder called us a "nation of cowards" for maintaining social segregation long after the battles for integration had been won.

While I agreed with his overall point, his didactic tone bothered me. It lacked the subtlety needed to get past the defenses of people in denial. There was also something hypocritical about accusing Americans of ducking honest dialogue about race when his own boss made a point of de-emphasizing it during the presidential campaign. We would prefer that Mr. Holder indict Dick Cheney for crimes against the U.S. Constitution, not point fingers at us.

That was last week. This week I'm feeling a lot more sympathetic toward the attorney general's position.

Tony then goes on to illustrate what changed his mind: the mayor in Orange County who had "no idea that there was a racial stereotype about black people having an insatiable lust for watermelons" after e-mailing an image of the White House with a watermelon filled lawn and the drunken kids of Madison County, Arkansas waving the Rebel flag and shouting racial epithets at the black electrical workers who were there to rebuild the area's power grid after a recent ice storm.

Tony ends with:
It isn't that Attorney General Holder went too far in his comments last week. He didn't go far enough.


EdHeath said...

My sense is that Tony Norman only partially saw the light. He does back away from the “ham-fisted” comment he made, but right before he makes the “doesn’t go far enough” comment you mentioned, he says this:
“Sure, some of us more than others could benefit from a long overdue chat about race. But the truth is that race is only one of many hang-ups we have as Americans including sexism, anti-intellectualism, homophobia, religious intolerance, xenophobia, discrimination against the disabled, a tolerance for cruelty to animals in the name of food production and a fear of talking about class bias. Hell, we might as well talk about the heartbreak of psoriasis while we're at it.”
So Holder’s words about the American conversation about race, expressed in the context of Black History Month, are chided first as ham-fisted and then as insufficient. I don’t remember Ashcroft or Gonzales (sp?) ever talking about America’s conversation about race.

Clyde Wynant said...

When I first heard Holder's remark I too thought it was misplaced, ill-timed and ham-fisted. But you have to put it in context of where he was and what he was talking about. It's not like he got up and JUST SAID THAT. Like all things on the Internet and the 24/7 NewsDisposal, it got distilled down to the harshest few words that would have the largest impact.


sexy said...