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How Eric Holder and Barack Obama Squandered the Promise of a Post-Racial America

Posted on March 31 2011 1:00 pm
J. Christian Adams is an election lawyer and former attorney in the Voting Section at the Department of Justice. He blogs about elections and the laws which affect them at
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A limited internal investigation into whether the people who dismissed the black panther voter intimidation case acted unethically has concluded.  No surprise, the DOJ found that DOJ did not act unethically.  This minor event was enough to create media history.  For the first time since the scandal broke, the New York Times, NPR, Associated Press and Washington Post all covered the black panther voter intimidation matter.  It seems media interest peaks when the government is to be defended – a perverse position given the historic import of the free press.

What has been most amazing to see is how the left-wing blogosphere has taken this limited and predictable finding and pounced like genuine reactionaries.  The fly has buzzed by the frog and a long tongue darts automatically.  The cat sees a mouse, and pounces.  They cannot help themselves, they cannot do otherwise.  It is like the Borg, all moving in unison, in common preprogrammed purpose. (With credit to the brilliant Jennifer Rubin).

There are a number of reasons, if I may stain that noble word, why the Left acts like this when it comes to the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation scandal.  For starters, conservatives have never had permission to speak on racial issues, and until recently, conservatives have submitted.  For decades, Republicans were particularly guilty.  Too afraid to articulate a competing philosophy on racial issues, they were content to stay silent and allow thinkers like Shelby Steele to do all of the heavy lifting.  After all, he could get away with it.

I am reminded by a conversation where someone said, “don’t stir up the anthill, we don’t want to raise these issues.”  In the meantime, a competing philosophy of racial grievance stole the moral heritage of the civil rights movement and allowed our culture, our law, to rot and corrupt because some were too afraid to confront the ever-present question of race.  Even the federal deficit shows the symptoms of this surrender.  But race has affected this nation since just after the Jamestown colonists landed.  How can we avoid the discussion?   We must speak about it because the issue isn’t going away.  Silence from one side for thirty-five years has wrought havoc.

America is increasingly diverse.  Failure to articulate a vision of genuine equality condemns our children to a nation of greater racial strife, not less.

The other reason the left fears discussion about the New Black Panther voter intimidation is that it breaks up the narrative of the last 50 years – that only some races have bad racial actors and only some races are victims.  This is why Kristen Clarke of the NAACP has been so hostile to cases like United States v. Ike Brown and the New Black Panther case.  She is part of an industry that has thrived by a static definition of oppressor and oppressed.  At one time, her version of history was wholly accurate.  But men are not angels, and every race has bad actors.  I proved that in federal court in Mississippi.  King Samir Shabazz has demonstrated to America that no race has a monopoly on evil racist madness.  People in places like the former Yugoslavia and Armenia learned this lesson long ago, but Americans are just beginning to learn.

A final reason for the march of the Borg is that an incredibly foolish mistake by a couple of DOJ bureaucrats named Loretta King and Steve Rosenbaum has catapulted that mistake into a existential threat to the promise of a post-racial America we heard so much about in 2008.  There was a time when millions of Americans, myself included, saw the election of President Obama as a unique American opportunity to put to sleep centuries of racial strife.  This was one of the most appealing parts of his election.  It was part of his brand.  In places like Pennsylvania, Ohio, Florida and Virginia, it played a large role in his election.  But that brand now lies in tragic tatters, in some measure because of the incredibly foolish mistakes of Eric Holder’s DOJ. This Justice Department brings cases to force a school district to allow a Muslim teacher to take 19 days off to go to Mecca, or to force Dayton, Ohio to hire black police officers who failed the entrance tests.  But the DOJ says the “facts and law” didn’t support the black panther lawsuit.  The American people are not fools.

There was a brief time in 2009 when so much more was possible.  This fractured hope also explains much of the visceral reaction of government defenders over the black panther case.   The report this week by the DOJ (absolving the DOJ) provided a bit of flotsam for some to cling to, but the wreckage of the post-racial promise of 2008 is what embitters so many about the black panther scandal.

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