The Corner

Holder Plays the Race Card

“You have sat too long for any good you have been doing lately . . . Depart, I say; and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!”

The more Attorney General Eric Holder proved contradictory in his recent statements about his knowledge of Fast and Furious, the more I expected that at some point, to save his tenure, he would play the race card. Apparently, he just has.

By any fair token, Holder has received far less media and partisan hostility than his predecessors John Ashcroft or Alberto Gonzales; but I say that we should have known he would revert to racial victimization in lieu of a candid and logical explanation of the disasters under his watch (e.g., the proposed KSM trial, the misguided efforts to close Guantanamo, the suing of states over immigration law). Careerist racial chauvinism has aways been the attorney general’s modus operandi — referring to African-Americans as “my people” when he shot back at those bewildered by his special treatment of the Black Panther voter-intimidation case, smearing the country at large as “cowards” because they apparently do not choose to view contemporary racial tensions through the particular prisms favored by Holder for most of his career, and, more recently, turning on a media critic with a paranoid conspiratorial outburst: “You guys need to — you need to stop this. It’s not an organic thing that’s just happening. You guys are behind it.”

Now, in extremis, when a growing chorus wants him gone, we get this from Holder about his legislative critics: “This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him. Both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.”

What would have happened had John Ashcroft shown dismay at the furor directed at him from the liberal community by suggesting he was a surrogate target of George Bush, given their common racial identity? And would the logical antithesis of Holder’s charge be that congressional investigative bodies should not, given Holder’s racial identity, be outraged that a branch of the Department of Justice was selling automatic weapons to Mexican drug cartels that led to the death of several, among them U.S. agents, and should not worry that it cannot get a consistent, logical, and candid explanation from the Attorney General?

Holder should have resigned weeks ago, but at least he serves as a portent of what we can expect in the national dialogue of 2012. 

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Case for Trump.

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