Old Habits Die Hard

The Attorney General, Eric Holder, is at the center of the Fast and Furious controversy. Mr. Holder claims that he is being persecuted because he is African American. Given that neither he nor President Obama would hold their respective offices were it not for a significant number of white people who voted Obama into the presidency, Holder’s claim is at the very least curious, if not disingenuous.

The Fast and Furious controversy is not at issue here. My concern is for people who are not in high office. Various sources claim that African Americans are disproportionately punished when they break or appear to break the law. I take them at their word, and regret racial injustice.

But I take issue with Mr. Holder’s claim. By pretending that he is being persecuted because he is an African American, he is diminishing the credibility of individuals or groups who are genuinely protesting against actual racial persecution. When a successful and powerful man equates his legal difficulties with those of defenseless citizens, he plays right into the hands of bigots who discredit the potential legal injustice against African Americans.

I don’t think that Holder actually believes that he is being investigated because he is an African American. An educated man, he must know that racial prejudice is not at issue. But I’m not at all  sure whether or not he knows the damage he’s done to the cause of equality between races. His stance smacks of reverse bigotry.

Where has he been through the many investigations of white men and the formal distinction awarded to celebrated African Americans? Why does he subscribe to the old prejudicial notion that white American’s see the color of a man’s skin rather than judge the issues at hand? He must know better than that.

And that is what disturbs me about his claim. There he is, the Attorney General of the United States, either pretending or believing that the people investigating him are doing so because he is an African American.

As Martin Luther King eloquently declared, we should judge a man not by the color of his skin but the content of his mind. Whatever the truth may be about the Fast and Furious issue, I am disappointed by the content of Holder’s mind.      

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