Eric Holder and the charge of racism
There are still genuine occurrences of racism in America today, just as there are still relevant charges of sexism and homophobia, ageism, class envy, and ability. The pools of sympathy and empathy individual citizens have for those genuine victims are being continually drained by the unfounded charges current administration officials are now leveling when things don’t go their way.
In a Sunday interview published in the New York Times, Attorney General Eric Holder accused his growing chorus of critics of racist motivations. When reached by the publication, The Daily Caller, Monday morning, the Department of Justice provided no evidence to support the attorney general’s claims.
Holder said some unspecified faction — what he refers to as the “more extreme segment” — is driven to criticize both him and President Barack Obama due to the color of their skin. Holder did not appear to elaborate on who he considered to make up the “more extreme segment.”
“This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him,” Holder said, according to the Times. “Both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.”
Holder’s accusations come as resignation calls mount from a growing list of 60 congressmen, two senators, every major Republican presidential candidate and two sitting governors, spurred on by the congressional investigation into Operation Fast and Furious.
Additionally, seventy-five congressmen have signed onto a House resolution for a vote of “no confidence” in Holder as attorney general. Between the two lists, there are 86 total in the House who no longer trust Holder to head the Department of Justice.
It’s not the first time the race card has come into play in efforts to protect Holder from criticism:
Most recently, during a December 8 House Judiciary Committee hearing into Fast and Furious where Holder was testifying, Georgia Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson argued that Fast and Furious wasn’t that big of a scandal because “white supremacists,” among others he described, were able to purchase weapons at “gun shows.” Johnson, told The Daily Caller that he thinks The Tea Party movement and the National Rifle Association “manufactured” Fast and Furious as a scandal to try to attack the president.
The White House hasn’t denounced Johnson’s rhetoric, nor has Holder. The Congressional Black Caucus (CBC), however, wouldn’t side with him — even unofficially — last week.
Author’s note: In an attempt to be fair, it’s difficult to determine if these administration officials genuinely believe that their opponents are engaging in racism or if they are using it as a cheap, political tool. Regardless, the administration (and their friends in the media) does great damage to the charge when they use it in politically tight corners. They don’t even appear to use it sparingly to preserve its power.
Fast and Furious was a program of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, overseen by Holder’s DOJ. It sent thousands of weapons to Mexican drug cartels via straw purchasers — people who legally purchased guns in the United States with the known intention of illegally trafficking them somewhere else.
At least 300 people in Mexico were killed with Fast and Furious weapons, as was Border Patrol agent Brian Terry. The identities of the Mexican victims are unknown.
Holder has said he was unaware of the operation, despite having been sent several personal memos from his top deputies and assistants. The memos contained intimate details of how Operation Fast and Furious worked. “This investigation [Fast and Furious, which is named earlier in the memo] — initiated in September 2009 in conjunction with the Drug Enforcement Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the Phoenix Police Department — involves a Phoenix-based firearms trafficking ring headed by Manuel Celis-Acosta,” one such memo that Holder was provided reads. “Celis-Acosta and straw purchasers are responsible for the purchase of 1,500 firearms that were then supplied to Mexican drug-trafficking cartels. They also have direct ties to the Sinaloa Cartel, which is suspected of providing $1 million for the purchase of firearms in the greater Phoenix area.”
In his New York Times interview, Holder again attacked the media who are covering the scandal.
“Mr. Holder contended that many of his other critics — not only elected Republicans but also a broader universe of conservative commentators and bloggers — were instead playing ‘Washington gotcha’ games, portraying them as frequently ‘conflating things, conveniently leaving some stuff out, construing things to make it seem not quite what it was’ to paint him and other department figures in the worst possible light,” Times reporter Charlie Savage wrote in the front page Sunday Times story.
Holder also attacked the media for covering the Fast and Furious scandal. Holder swiped at TheDaily Caller in late November, alleging that The Daily Caller is “behind” the calls for his resignation because it has been reporting on the subject.
“You guys need to — you need to stop this,” Holder told The Daily Caller at a White House event. “It’s not an organic thing that’s just happening. You guys are behind it.”
So, Holder’s take on The Fast and Furious fiasco is basically, if we did anything it’s the racist, “most extreme segment” of the other side pursuing a punishment for it, and to all those others who are investigating the charges to see if they are severe enough to warrant punishment, Holder simply says: “Stop it!”
One does have to wonder if administration officials worry, behind closed doors, if they’re overusing the charge of racism. One does have to wonder if there are some voices in the administration cautioning top officials to use it sparingly. If that’s the case, then the top officials don’t appear to be listening.
The Department of Justice officials won’t further the charges with any specificity and the White House won’t even acknowledge them. This leads many of us to wonder if advisors have warned them against being specific, because that may suggest that the top officials are seeking out boogeymen. It also leads some of us to believe that the administration officials fear that the charge may cast the accused in a sympathetic light, thus losing the edge of the charge. The charge appears to be most effective when leveled in an open-ended manner, and it appears as though Holder and his department are keenly aware of this.
It’s obviously the administration’s goal to divide Americans on the issue of crime and punishment in regard to The Fast and Furious fiasco, and it’s also their goal to give ammunition to their side. As the details roll out, it’s probably been tough on many supporters. The charge of racism shows how desperate they’ve become to come up with something, anything in the way of a defense. They’ve thrown everything and the bathwater at this thing, and they’re getting trounced. The racism charge may be all that they have left.
Holder never reaches a point where he proclaims innocence for his department in The Fast and Furious charges. He simply tries to diminish those who make the charges, those who pursue the investigation, and those who report on it. He basically says that while my department may have failed in certain areas, punishment for these actions shouldn’t include calls for my removal. Any such calls are racist.
What a wonderful world it would be if we could all do this. If we committed a crime of any sort, and someone came along to invoke a penalty against us we could call them racist. How many of us have failed, in ways large and small, only to have to wallow in the juices of our own failure with no one to blame but ourselves for our actions? How many of us have been rejected for a promotion, only to suffer with the personal insult that was levied against our personality, our interview, and our credentials. How many of us haven’t been hired after applying and interviewing? How many of us have no one to blame but ourselves? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we could say that there was something fundamentally wrong with those people who held our future in their hands? Wouldn’t it be even more wonderful if we could believe it?
I realize that the administration is just playing petty politics here with the racism charge, and no administration would sit back and accept blame without a fight, but when the administration constantly uses the charge as their defense, there’s going to be some blowback. If this blowback does not reach the administration, then it will be used against the genuine victims in our society for whom this administration apparently has no regard.