by Victor Davis Hanson
NRO’s The Corner
Many have weighed in on Eric Holder’s “cowards” slur. He obviously hasn’t paid much attention to college campuses, where the obsession with race permeates departments, curricula, hiring, faculty profile, student events, funding, etc. Bumper-sticker identification and hair-trigger readiness to accuse someone of racism to further a particular ideological or even personal agenda are now 30 years old and institutionalized in higher education.
He is right on one count, however — in the university, public schools, journalism at large, the foundations, and politics, there is a reluctance in one aspect to broach the subject. It is absolutely taboo to suggest that personal behavior, particular ingrained attitudes, and pernicious cultural assumptions — far more than contemporary racial oppression — could have contributed to inordinately high rates of drug use, crime, illegitimacy, unemployment, high-school drop-out rates, sexist attitudes toward women, and incarceration among a subset of young African-American males.
One can cite data, and refer to it in the spirit of finding constructive solutions. Yet that will most often result in suffering the slur of racism, given that so many are invested in the industry of racial grievance, as Holder himself has unfortunately demonstrated. It is not encouraging that in the first real public speech, the Attorney General of the United States has denigrated the American people as “cowards.”
In that regard, what is cowardly is once again pandering to an audience about race rather than challenging people to transcend race and accept that it should be incidental, not essential, to one’s character. More to the point, Holder himself had a teachable moment a few years ago to stand up and talk truth to power when he was asked to participate in a tawdry scheme to pardon a fugitive on the FBI’s most-wanted list who had donated amply to the various Clinton political operations. Instead, he voted present.
I hope this is not more of the Carteresque style of blaming the American people. We’ve already heard from the Energy Czar that we in California have apparently abused our landscape, caused record droughts (still raining and snowing here in California), and so can expect soon to grow no more food, given that we’ve really used up our agricultural infrastructure rather than miraculously fed the world the last century. Our president has characterized us as “dictating” in the Middle East, in contrast to the Saudi authoritarian’s “courage.” Our secretary of state has said America too often has been impulsive and ideological. Gorism and ‘you did it to yourselves’ thinking is already rampant among some science and environmental appointees.
All this moral posturing and incrimination lead to the sort of nemesis we saw with the “highest ethical standards” devolving into Daschle, Geithner, Killefer, Lynch, Richardson, Solis, etc. (and silence about Blago, Burris, Murtha, Rangel, etc.). Does anyone remember that, decades ago, a flip-the-channel collective response met Jimmy Carter every time he put on the cardigan sweater and began to lecture America about what was wrong with it rather than trying to uplift Americans’ spirits to meet new challenges?
©2009 Victor Davis Hanson