Eric Holder Plays the Race Card

When Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) recently accused the Justice Department of failing to go after the Black Panthers accused of voter intimidation in Philadelphia because they were black, Attorney General Eric Holder refused to respond on point. Instead, he began a tirade against the pettiness of Culberson and others for continuing to treat the allegation as a serious offense.

It was former Democratic activist Bartle Bull’s assertion that the Philadelphia incident was the worst case of voter intimidation he had witnessed in his career that set Holder off. It caused Holder to rail against the comparison of the Philadelphia incident with what “his people” (an offensive choice of words) endured in the South during the 60’s.

Of course, Bull’s career doesn’t include those years and he wasn’t making that comparison. Nevertheless, Holder took the opportunity to lash out against how much of a disservice this was to those who put their lives on the line for “his people”, citing his late sister-in-law’s work on integration to make a point. The point, it seems, was to turn the discussion in a direction that did not include his department’s dereliction of duty.

This was nothing less than the race card being played by Holder. His comparison to civil rights abuses in the 60’s was meant to elicit sympathy and guilt in order to downplay the Black Panthers’ voter intimidation. The race card has been a means of ending debate, and Holder used it in a transparent attempt to end questioning of his department’s dubious decision.

Racism has been considered a one-way street far too long. The Justice Department under Holder is being accused of “reverse discrimination” for refusing to prosecute black offenders, but that is a misnomer. Discrimination is, or should be, color blind, making “reverse discrimination” a meaningless phrase.

Holder still has to respond to the accusations of systematic discrimination by the Department of Justice. Playing the race card does not get him off the hook and it does nothing to explain his decision not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Holder needs to eliminate race cards from his deck and show his hand. The game isn’t over.

David J. Hentosh


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