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Attorney General: America a 'Nation of Cowards' on Race

By Carrie Johnson
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. today urged employees to take advantage of black history month to begin a frank dialogue about race, labeling the United States a "nation of cowards" for its refusal to discuss the country's checkered history openly.

Holder, the first African American to serve as the country's top law enforcement officer, said that Justice Department workers carry a special responsibility to acknowledge social limits and to burst through them. The department's civil rights division, which was initially founded to help civil rights freedom riders and students seeking to integrate public schools, more recently has been the target of criticism from Democrats who say it has lost its way.

Holder told employees that the level of interaction among people of different races is "bleak" and in many ways does not "differ significantly from the country that existed some fifty years ago."

"If we are to make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about racial matters that continue to divide us," he added.

By Web Politics Editor  |  February 18, 2009; 6:39 PM ET
Categories:  B_Blog , Cabinet  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Obama Nixes Fairness Doctine Revival
Next: First Lady Guides District Children Through a History Lesson


Why hasnt thr NAACP fought for a native america month or a chief Sitting Bull dayor how about a wounded knee ave in washington?

r the three hundred thousand plus whites who gave thier lives to free his race also cowards?

if this black rascist AG calls us cowards i hope he is including the wonderful black mudering Bufflo soldiers who killed the freedom fighters and thier familis of the southewest now theres cowards. but of course that can be explained away. what our AG`s next suggestion all none afroamericans must wear white stars

Posted by: mcctogglo | February 21, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

The man definatly does not have a way with words, he is not the ObamaRama on giving a speech. I disagree that the nation is a coward on race, I think its more like people just have better things to do and talk about unless we bring up the word reparations and be serious about it. I didnt hear his speech but as the AG I hope he spent more of his time talking about catching crooks and keeping them behind bars to make the streets safer to walk at night. If he used this forum for his personal views on race then I think it was inappropriate because the last we need is a lecture from an AG. The man needs to focus on keeping the streets safe from thug black people...and white people...and everyone in between.

Posted by: matrox | February 20, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

I am sure that the comment was taken out of context but it is still pretty strong words. Lumping a whole nation together in some negative way is always dangerous.

But I think I understand what he meant. I almost never hear any frank discussions about the injustices that have been done to blacks over the years.

When I do read about it or see a documentary it breaks my heart and makes me ashamed of my ancestors, which is probably one reason no one wants to talk about it......

Posted by: biggerjake | February 20, 2009 7:00 AM | Report abuse

The Attorney General is correct.

There are too many blacks who are ignorant of brave black men who had risen up since the 1600s in America to fight off the shackles of slavery, but had nowhere to go because because other slaves turned them in for their own sakes.

We have too many blacks who pretend to forget that the fight for equality of all men is written on pages with the blood of honkeys, which does not include Slick Willy whom the black racist NAACP posted in their hall of fame as their only hero honkey.

When a trouble making piss ant rises to the post of Attorney General and calls for beggers to beg even louder let us pray that honkies and blacks who don't beg for respect rise up and answer the reverse-racism sissies in the same tone we slander the racist equals of nothing (Ps 62:9).

Posted by: RogerWDavis | February 19, 2009 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Holders comments really piss me off. We've been having a conversation about race my entire life and I'm 57. Frankly, I'm sick of that conversation and I can't imagine what hasn't already been said ad nauseum. This demogoguue is a divisive opportunist.

Posted by: hit4cycle | February 19, 2009 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of HATE: I'm stunned by the hateful language with which extreme views are expressed on this site! I'd like to this we were beyond this in the USA, but apparently not.

Posted by: julad | February 19, 2009 5:42 PM | Report abuse

With all due respect. Mr. Holder and Mr. Obama know that since the beginning of mankind. there has been distrust of one another which developes into hate.

Also, it is a known fact that distrust and hate have their genesis from leaders who demagogue the issue; by constantly talking about race...will promote more racial what end? It is akin to a long marriage between husband and wife, and a sticking point in their marriage is constantly brought is best to forget about it and go on with your life.

It is ironic that Mr. Obama is our president because of hate...not racial hate...but political, White on White hate: The Democratic leadership in Washington did a coup de grace on President Bush with deceitful demagoguery that propelled Mr. Obama into the White House; these are the same people that agreed with President Bush on Iraq, until things got tough in Iraq...then they turned on him.

Hate and distrust will be with us as long as our leaders talk about it...the vulnerable may not understand...but our leaders certainly do.

Posted by: adamscar | February 19, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Why didn't he call us a Nation of Cowards during his confirmation hearings so that we could get to know him ??

Posted by: rasheri | February 19, 2009 2:01 PM | Report abuse

We cannot dictate that groups of divergent people get along, but we do have laws that guarantee a person's right to the freedom to achieve, through diligence and perseverance. It's been about 150 years since African-Americans have been able to pursue the American dream. Many have achieved it. A lot have not. Some are still waiting for the modern equivalent of 40 acres and a mule. The day when government compensates that group, taking tax money from the many, some of whose ancestors died for their freedom and, whose forefathers maintained the underground railroad, for them to escape to Canada, will be troubling.
I don't see Afro-Americans bowing to whites in America. They are, now, more a part of this country's fabric than their brethren are, anywhere else in the world. Time will erode our differences even more, but inflamatory rhetoric will only harden emotions. This is not a country of cowards, of any color.

Posted by: roanns | February 19, 2009 12:43 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Holder, speak for yourself.

Posted by: erasmus2 | February 19, 2009 12:19 PM | Report abuse

" Cowards"...Not the white people I know. Many would welcome an honest discussion in a "tolerant" atmosphere. It is simply we have learned you better be armed and ready to fight if you talk frankly with many blacks about how you see their culture. For example, we know that if you say blacks need to take personal responsibility for their own behavior, Jesse Jackson threatens to "cut your n_ts off". That does make some whites hesitate to talk but it doesn't make them "cowards".

Posted by: doright48 | February 19, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

So is the US going to finally fork over the promised 40 acres and a mule (or its monetary equivalent?) Anything else will be continued cowardice.

Posted by: tobeimeanpeter | February 19, 2009 11:18 AM | Report abuse

Public school parking lots and school cafeterias are microcosms of society.

They are nicely divided into 'Black' 'Hispanic' 'Asian' and 'white/other' sections....perfectly illustrating the racial and cultural balkanization that America has now become.

Yup...the new mantra for the OBAMA administration is "We stole it fair and square and now its mine, all mine." capncrunch.

When Blacks like Holder believe this; what does it mean for Koreans, Asians and other 'minorities' who've been terrorized and victims of Black racism?

Racism is alive and well and thriving in the OBAMA administration, and the public schools of America(ref. WAPO piece of several years ago on cultural and racial segregation in D.C. area schools).

Posted by: poppadata | February 19, 2009 11:04 AM | Report abuse



Posted by: myworld | February 19, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse



EYES ONLY. TO: President Obama; VP Biden; R. Emanuel; D. Axelrod; D. Blair; J. Brennan; J. Jones; E. Holder; J. Napolitano; R. Gates; L. Panetta; H. Clinton; T. Geithner; R. Mueller; H. Reid; N. Pelosi; D. Feinstein; S. Reyes



... coordinated multi-agency "action programs of personal destruction" manned by security/intel agents, local police nationwide, and citizen vigilantes fronted by government-funded community policing and anti-terrorism programs.


WHAT IS THE U.S. TREASURY DEPARTMENT ROLE in these programs -- and has the IRS been used to decimate family finances of wrongly "targeted" American citizens? Could this be a root cause of the mortgage meltdown that led to the global economic crisis? Are you investigating?


What Sen. Leahy knows, Team Obama must IMMEDIATELY confront -- because the victims continue to suffer.





Posted by: scrivener50 | February 19, 2009 10:22 AM | Report abuse

A.G., Eric H. Holder Jr. can show his racial bravery by using my absolute proof that our legal system has imprisoned millions of innocent citizens from 1970 to now. 50%+ now in all prisons are innocent. I have searched for an honest lawyer for 29 yrs, no luck so far. Our Supreme Court has violated M. v. M., in all cases tried based on 21USCA841(a) and (b). The "Contract" portion of the Constitution being the prime error in ALL of their decisions. Let us see how brave they be??

Posted by: docr20041 | February 19, 2009 10:04 AM | Report abuse

Please remember, though as a country we've made much progress in terms of cultural integration, there is still a long way to go in terms of understanding and APPRECIATING the differences amongst the many cultures that enjoy our great Democracy in action. This is why folks find a need to form organizations around their own familiar cultural idenities! For example, social support networks are essential to individuals who otherwise would wind up disenfranchised, angry, etc.

Our younger generation may not be able to appreciate the sublteties of cultural differences, often saying "I don't think about race when I choose my friends." But how many socialize w/friends of different races AT THEIR HOMES, in unfamiliar neighborhoods, places of worship, etc?

This is where the nitty-gritty of tolerance, appreciation, even celebration of our differences truly takes root. When interracial couples can walk down any street w/out fear!

Posted by: julad | February 19, 2009 9:54 AM | Report abuse

I'll have a conversation with Holder. He won't like what he'll hear. And I couldn't care less. I stopped pandering to Negroid's years ago........

Posted by: onepirlgirl | February 19, 2009 9:48 AM | Report abuse

I think the AG should be involved in enforcing the LAWS of the land and get out of my face on any other issue! I grow weary of the comments (FROM ANY SOURCE)that only add emphasis to the divisions of this nations people. All of our CITIZENS are American and not some hyphonated brand.

One of the things I admired about the US Army was that we all wore spotted uniforms, and we were all judged on how well we performed our exceptions to race, color or creed. It seems that the AG wants to maintain the worn out seperation of a past age.

Posted by: NeoConVeteran | February 19, 2009 9:21 AM | Report abuse

Won't this racial thing ever end? I'm so sick of it! I've been listening to this sh-- for 75 years. If you want to give praise --give it to our Native Americans.. When do we get Native American Week?

Posted by: galeigh0077 | February 19, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

This is truth that must be stated, and who better than the AG to speak truth to those who failed to recognize it.

Now the history books must be rewritten to change the false assumptions of the mis-education of history.

Posted by: scheduler | February 18, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Americans just voted a African- American to the office of the President of the United States and this racists is saying to “ take advantage of black history month to begin a frank dialogue about race, labeling the United States a "nation of cowards" for its refusal to discuss the country's checkered history openly.”
"If we are to make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about racial matters that continue to divide us," _______Ok here’s my perspective. What’s with Black history month, the black caucus, BET (black entertainment television), and a number of other BLACK organizations? Heck you don’t even call yourself an American; you’re an “African- American.” You call us a "nation of cowards" and then want us to all just get along. With actions like this, how can we? Take a good look at your separatist culture and then think about “racial matters that continue to divide us."

Posted by: gotwork4me | February 18, 2009 8:17 PM | Report abuse

I am pleased to hear the attorney general speak directly to an issue that is still powerfully divisive in our society, in our economy, in our schools and in our streets. The ugly attempt at humor demonstrated in the New York Post is but another glaring example.

It is true that there is more comity between all Americans, than say, 50, or even 20 years ago, but there is still a long way to go and for the current administration to 'white wash', or paper over the issue would be a sign of moral bankruptcy. I believe I've seen enough of that from the last few Republican admins - more than enough to choke a horse.

I found Mr Holder's words to be forthright, stating his opinion clearly and succinctly. This sounds very much in the character of the Obama administration. Forthright, sincere, to the point and neutral. No one is being condemned. I would hope all important discourse and debate could be of such a level. Take note Mr Cantor, Bonoir, Jendel, etc

Compare this to the arrogant howling hackery that comes out of the barking dogs of the GOP leadership - and some of the Demagogic Dems - loved the dog and pony show of casting stones at the bank execs. It is neither honest nor principled.

To label it pandering, while nodding and snoring that it will never be different - that doesn't help us much at all. Hell, a good dog can do that. In total, it amounts to the cheapest form of political manipulation - fear mongering, stirring up distrust, self serving greed, and the heinous elitism of the 'haves and have mores', otherwise known as Dubya's base. We stole it fair and square and now its mine, all mine. Base indeed.

I like the change.

Posted by: capncrunch | February 18, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

Is this maybe a bit over the top for our Attorney General? I doubt Obama is pleased with this heated rhetoric, even if it is on race relations.

Posted by: parkerfl1 | February 18, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

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