Attorney General Eric Holder says U.S. exhibits cowardice in discussing racial matters, calls for integration on weekends:
In a speech to Justice Department employees marking Black History Month, Holder said the workplace is largely integrated but Americans still self-segregate on the weekends and in their private lives. “Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards,” Holder said. Race issues continue to be a topic of political discussion, but “we, as average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race.”
“If we’re going to ever make progress, we’re going to have to have the guts, we have to have the determination, to be honest with each other. It also means we have to be able to accept criticism where that is justified,” Holder told reporters after the speech.
Even when people mix at the workplace or afterwork social events, Holder argued, many Americans in their free time are still segregated inside what he called “race-protected cocoons.” “Saturdays and Sundays, America in the year 2009 does not in some ways differ significantly from the country that existed almost 50 years ago. This is truly sad,” said Holder.
I’m sure the “coward” line will haunt the AG for the rest of his career. If there’s one thing Americans don’t like to be called, its “coward.” Calling people cowards is an inappropriate way to promote healthy debate. I like that the AG is calling for such discussion, but he did it the wrong way. This will backfire, and it probably already has.