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03-05-2009 07:26 PMbasmanThe deeply grievous problems of black and brown poverty have very little to do with Holder’s speech. While he nods to the black underclass, it is an epiphenomenon in the vision of America he asserts—one of fundamental de jure progress; one of ascending black prosperity; one of work place acceptability-an America, if not perfect, better, in his words.
Black and brown pverty go to a different America, and a different black America. These problems, sad to say, will not be resolved by more candid inter racial conversations—would they could be. Increased social integration will not solve the problem of the black and brown underclass in America. That problem bespeaks something terribly dysfunctional amongst poor blacks, a kind of social and cultural cancer. Government needs to what it can to lend a hand, and to try to help overcome such seemingly intractable dysfunction, but the Great Society infusion of money will not solve the problem, never mind more candid conversations between middle class and upper middle class folks.
It may be that blacks need to have more “honest conversations” amongst themselves, like the kind Bill Cosby, Alvin Poussaint, John Mcwhorter, Shelby Steele, Thomas Sowell, Michael Steele, Juan Williams, Barack Obama—sometimes, urge on blacks.
And in these terms, the cowards are the race hustlers who never saw a grievance they couldn’t magnify, a victimhood they couldn’t exploit. Everyone knows who they are. And how can Holder address these problems as A.G.? That question points to a fundamental misconception informing his misconceived speech.
His speech had nothing to do with black and brown poverty, nor do his solutions for diminishing self segregation have anything to do with them.
03-05-2009 07:21 PMbasmanWhat a confusion and how inapprpriate is Holder’s speech.
I’d need somebody to delineate its clear and coherent line of argument.
He notes that de jure America is fundamentally different than it was 55 years ago. He notes that race related issues form a significant portion of the American political discussion. He notes that the races have “melded” well in the work place. He says the civil rights movement forced Americans to examine their “basic beliefs and long held views”. He says, “…Separate public facilities, separate entrances, poll taxes, legal discrimination, forced labor, in essence an American apartheid, all were part of an America that the movement destroyed…The civil rights movement made America, if not perfect, better.” He says the civil rights movement nourished the social movements of the latter half of the twentieth century in America and the fight for equal treatment. He notes that he and others of his generation have done well in America owing to the great achievements of those blacks on whose shoulders they stand.
So what makes Americans, “…in too many ways, a nation of cowards”? It is, it seems, that de facto, as has been noted on this thread, people seem to stick to their own race and class, that people don’t open up enough to each other and have real conversations about race and racial issues, don’t press each other enough across racial lines to know each other better, that “…America… is more prosperous, more positively race conscious and yet is voluntarily socially segregated.” And what does Holder look forward to? He looks to “…hasten the day when the dream of individual, character based, acceptance can actually be realized.” And what will he do in aid of that? “..(T)his Department of Justice, as long as I am here, must - and will - lead the nation to the "new birth of freedom" so long ago promised by our greatest President. This is our duty and our solemn obligation.”
So your country has made great legal strides forward on racial matters to the point where Holder says it is “if not perfect better.” The work place, a predominate social institution in peoples’ lives, is “melded”. People along the way have gone through fundamental introspection and changed fundamentally in the result. While there is underclass blight that cannot be gainsaid, America has prospered including American blacks which has ascended in large numbers into the middle class. So what does the Department of Justice have to do with how people choose to spend their private time? Is he going to enforce laws forcing people to discuss intensely affirmative action, to really get to know each other? So, really, what “new birth of freedom” is he going to lead “the nation” to? How will he do it? Can he do it? What, exactly, is his “duty and solemn obligation?
In short, he has conflated de jure and de facto issues, and the Department of Justice seems stuck in his conceptual sludge. By the way, the de jure changes Holder points to make a hell of a difference 55 years later to Saturdays and Sundays in America.
As well, even de facto, Holder never mentions the rise of in inter-racial marriage over the past fifty years, a good indication of changed attitudes . In 1945, inter racial couples were a rarity. Today, it nary raises an eyebrow, particularly and increasingly amongst Xers and their successor generations.
And this goes to an important flaw in Holder’s reasoning. He says that insufficient de facto attention to race:
“...in the face of the most significant demographic changes that this nation has ever confronted- and remember, there will be no majority race in America in about fifty years- the coming diversity that could be such a powerful, positive force will, instead, become a reason for stagnation and polarization. We cannot allow this to happen and one way to prevent such an unwelcome outcome is to engage one another more routinely- and to do so now.”
Not only does inter marriage contradict his concern, but on what conceivable theory can he see the stagnation of and polarization of America 50 years hence? There will be no racial majority. Why won’t time’s passing lessen the racial issues, de- intensify black white issues and make for a more melting pot America. And what can the Attorney General and the Department of Justice do about it anyway?
In contrast to Holder’s speech I recommend this essay: http://www.theamericanscholar.org/th...ican-narrative
Finally, I have come to admire Obama a great deal, more so with each passing day. But I have never thought his race speech, save for it as political theater and a political instrument designed to deal with a discrete problem, was a particularly great statement about race in America, and I have read it a number of times. But it is eloquent, thoughtful, articulate and coherent. And compared to Holder’s speech being mooted here, it takes on the stature of the Gettysburg Address.