"U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has surely given Loudmouth Limbaugh a hot topic," said Mary Mitchell in the Chicago Sun-Times. In a speech this week, Holder said America is "a nation of cowards" when it comes to talking about race. Holder isn't putting anybody down, only "asking us to have courage," but that won't stop a whole lot of white people from taking offense.
If we're being frank, said Heather Mac Donald in City Journal, let's at least acknowledge that the "frank" discussion in the Clinton era, when Holder was deputy attorney general, amounted to "a one-sided litany of white injustices." So if we're going to talk again—after electing our first black president—let's remember that there are "irredeemable racists among Americans," but "they come in all colors."
As expected, said Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic, "the diarrhea merchants are having a field day with that 'nation of cowards' line." But the only reason to take offense at what was actually a pretty "unremarkable and vague" speech is "if you think 'the nation' only includes white people." Otherwise, you have to figure Holder was calling everyone, black or white, cowardly on race matters.
Holder is certainly not being bold, said Paul Mirengoff in Power Line. In one breath he calls for an open debate on, say, affirmative action, but in the next he demonizes people who hold what he calls "extreme" views on the subject. You see, "his real complaint is not the absence of candid discussion, but rather the articulation of positions he doesn't like."
Civil rights activists welcomed Holders comments, said Josh Meyer in the Chicago Tribune, while some conservatives found his rhetoric “overly confrontational.” One thing seems clear: Holder plans to make “issues as racial inequality and social justice” priorities while he’s the nation’s top law enforcement official.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Why is American internet so slow?
- 7 ways to be the most interesting person in any room
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- What the collapse of the Ming Dynasty can tell us about American decline
- 22 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Colorado’s new ‘drive high, get a DUI’ commercials are actually pretty clever
- Who are the real gay marriage bigots?
- 10 classic Sesame Street moments we wouldn't show today's kids
- What would a U.S.-China war look like?
- Ukraine's fraught relationship with Russia: A brief history
Subscribe to the Week