February 19th, 2009
12:58 PM ET
6 years ago

Bloggers blast Holder for 'nation of cowards' remark

Attorney General Eric Holder helps celebrate Black History Month at an event Wednesday at the Justice Department.
Attorney General Eric Holder helps celebrate Black History Month at an event Wednesday at the Justice Department.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - America is "a nation of cowards" when discussing race. That sentiment from the country's first African-American attorney general, Eric Holder, has stirred up pundits, bloggers and readers.

"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial, we have always been and we - I believe continue to be in too many ways essentially a nation of cowards," Holder told Department of Justice employees at an event Wednesday celebrating Black History Month.

Watch: Holder says America is a "nation of cowards"

And that impression of race in America has set off a firestorm of criticism.

"Holder doesn't want an honest dialogue about race. In the Age of [President] Obama, 'talking enough with each other about race' means the rest of us shutting up while being subjected to lectures about our insensitivity and insufficient integration on the weekends," conservative blogger Michelle Malkin wrote.

Stephan Tawney, writing on the American Pundit blog, said a glimpse at the national political landscape - namely the country's first black president - suggests otherwise.

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Filed under: Eric Holder
soundoff (80 Responses)
  1. Sniffit

    Indeed. It's funny and hugely ironic that his comment itself proves what he said was true, instigated a firestorm that proves what he said was true, and also provides a great example of the kind of talking "at" people about the issue that has contributed to the stagnation of responsible public discourse.

    February 19, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  2. A kickin' donkey

    "Bloggers blast Holder" ???

    NO ... I'm blogging and I'm NOT blasting Eric Holder. I think he is right on target !

    Some people can't take honest dialog whenever they percieve it as exposing a shortcoming that can be tied to the USA as a whole. Remember that rabid chant at the McCain rallies whenever they wanted to shout down a dissenting view?

    All it took to put SOME of these bloggers over the edge was Holder saying ... NON_COURAGEOUS and AMERICA in the same sentence. Next they'll be calling him unpatriotic.

    February 19, 2009 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  3. NUNNYA

    Why is there a quote from Michelle Malkin in this story.That woman is dead from the neck up.

    February 19, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  4. Kayla

    IF THE SHOE FIT, WEAR IT.

    February 19, 2009 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  5. Miles

    the silence on this topic is deafening

    February 19, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  6. vic

    WHO CARES what Michelle Malkin thinks or says – she's nothing but a swastika carrying member of the republican neocons.
    Sheesh!!!
    BTW – Eric Holder is absolutely right.

    February 19, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  7. Q

    The only reason we are cowards to discussing race is because minorities are too quick to point out that you are racist. This is the world we live in. If I don't agree with what a black person is saying, they are quick to label me racist. To me, it seems that the problem lies with the minority community. Quit being so quick to judge when someone disagrees with your opinion. Then, can we have an open dialogue on race.

    February 19, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  8. obama-mama

    There is still plenty of racism out there. You even see it on these blogs so everybody stop with the shock and outrage.

    February 19, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  9. Willie

    Yet another way that the current administration is trying to endear itself to the masses. I hope idiotic comments such as Holder's aren't going to be the norm for the Obama administration.

    February 19, 2009 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  10. JDD

    Dear Mr. Holder,

    I hope your department will pursue racial balance by getting more white people into pro football and pro basketball. Clearly some very heavy handed racism is at work when the white majority is so under represented in our two biggest national sports. We look forward to an open discussion about the inequality of race in pro sports.

    Sincerely yours,
    A Fan

    February 19, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. Lesley

    After the famous comment by Phil Gramm, how could anyone now say this is a "nation of . . . ." anything. Lumping people together in a negative scenario is just plain imprudent. He could have expressed his view in different words. Obama should hold a series of diplomatic lectures for everyone on his staff. They need to learn how to make a point forcefully but gracefully.

    February 19, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. FAYE, NV

    Holder is absolutely correct on this country cowardness to address race. Racist continues here today and probably forever. White, some, in particular will not address the issue, however they still use old slavery mentality.

    When you hear an individual states something like, I don't see color, some of my children friends are black/other races or I try to treat every race fair. Better yet they invite you to a party or wedding and you are the only black person there. Whites must realize this country does not belong to them and we black/hispanic and indian build this country, and one day whites will be the least monority.

    February 19, 2009 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  13. One Score and Four Years From Now ...

    To Steven Tawney ...

    We have a black President ... so what??? You think that means that we live in a post racial world? We do not.

    If Obama leaves office in 2016, by 2040 a whole generation of children will have been born and grown up after the time when a black man held the ultimate "power position" in America.

    Those young adults will realize that anyone of any color might end up with the power to hire or fire them. Prosecute them, judge them, be the emergency room doctor that might have to save them. With that understanding, virtually no one will let their biases be revealed ... lest they suffer for it.

    I expect the eurudite Obama's administration to be transformational and successful and so if people are going to ascribe to a simple-minded view, they might grow up with a sense that BLACK presidents can only be a GOOD presidents.

    February 19, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  14. frank

    Holder scolded some for the obvious. Now people are crying in their milk. Can't take a little tough talk. If you can't handle the heat stay out of the policial kitchen.

    February 19, 2009 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  15. yuri

    Holder, you simply have to hold your horses lest they should land you in thick, hot soup or even a swamp. If you continue shootin' your mouth, you may end up with mouth sores. Watch out, buddy! And behave.

    February 19, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  16. realradical

    Eric Holder was simply putting a light on the truth about the US. After we observed McCain/Palin's racist rallies, you could've been Ray Charles and see what prevails in the US. Face it, if you are a non-white in the US your skin tone becomes your first impression. But whenever the truth is told, white folk act like we're being overly sensitive. I'm glad he came out and decided not to be so politcally correct and told it like it is! We know it's the 21st century, but that don't mean the problem was ever solved, espeically when you're confronted with it almost daily.

    February 19, 2009 02:52 pm at 2:52 pm |
  17. DNC

    Holder is setting fire to the underbrush of racial misunderstanding.

    Holder, Why don't you live among those people you so willingly criticize? Wouldn't that promote better race relations?

    No, you just want to stand on your DNA and heritage and sling insults at the American public.

    February 19, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  18. Doug, New Jersey

    I agree with him, when you see Micheal Steele pelted with Oreos and so called civil rights leaders and organizations either support or look the other way at such blatent racism for every and any African American who is not a Democrat, he is right. However, kinda odd that someone who is part of the problem would mention it.

    February 19, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  19. Doug, New Jersey

    I agree with him, when you see Micheal Steele pelted with Oreos and so called civil rights leaders and organizations either support or look the other way at such blatent racism for every and any African American who is not a Democrat, he is right. However, kinda odd that someone who is part of the problem would mention it.

    February 19, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  20. bernj

    Holder is correct. Some otherwise reasonable whites like to act as if the past 400 years never happened. It did and we need to talk about it. Not facing up the the truth leaves a lot of feelings simmering. We are cowards for not having the courage to talk about race openly and candidly.

    February 19, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  21. Doug, New Jersey

    I agree with him, when you see Micheal Steele pelted with Oreos and so called civil rights leaders and organizations either support or look the other way at such blatent racism for every and any African American who is not a Democrat, he is right. However, kinda odd that someone who is part of the problem would mention it.

    February 19, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  22. Doug, New Jersey

    I agree with him, when you see Micheal Steele pelted with Oreos and so called civil rights leaders and organizations either support or look the other way at such blatent racism for every and any African American who is not a Democrat, he is right. However, kinda odd that someone who is part of the problem would mention it.

    February 19, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  23. AndrewW

    Holder is the man. Really. He hit the nail on the head.

    African Americans who complain about racism and the "white man" constantly need to wipe their eyes and look at the President of the United States. He was VOTED into office. Have you forgotten that already?

    All of this complaining is done on blogs, at home, in court. Never face-to-face. Open Dialog. The door is open, you just don't realize it yet because you're too afraid to get out of your comfortable hole of complaining.

    February 19, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  24. a southern bell

    I WISH I COULD SAY HOLDER IS WRONG.

    HE IS NOT.

    MIND YOU AS A WHITE WOMAN I AM PROUD THAT

    WE ELECTED PRESIDENT OBAMA. THAT WAS, I FEEL,

    FARE BETTER FOR THE WHITES OF THIS NATION THAN THE

    AFRICAN-AMERICAN COMMUNITY. I WOULD ANY DAY, RATHER

    BE THE OPPRESSED THAN THE OPPRESSOR. WE HAVE LONG

    BEEN IN DENIAL & MANY OF US CONTINUE TO BE. JUST LOOK

    AT THE COMMENTS MADE BY THOSE RUNNING IN THIS ELECTION.

    "HARD WORKING WHITES". WHAT ??? THE NON WHITES ARE NOT

    HARD WORKING. "THE REAL AMERICANS"- MUST BE SPEAKING

    ABOUT NATIVE-AMERICANS-NOT. THE OBAMA CANDIDACY- A

    "FAIRY TAIL". YET ALL THESE PEOPLE SWEAR UP & DOW, ALL

    THESE COMMENTS ARE NOT RACIST. THEY ARE. THEY ARE!!!!

    NOT ONLY THEY ARE RACIST. THEY INSULT ALL OF US AT ONE

    BIG SWOOP. IT IS SO NORMAL FOR AMERICANS TO BE RACIST

    THAT OUR DEFINITION OF RACIST IS RACIST IN ITSELF.

    February 19, 2009 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  25. Jack Bishop

    Mr Holder's wording may not be the best but his point is well taken.
    Ms Malkin's retort proves his point. Black's and white's have had a hard time expressing themselves about race issues without someone
    getting angry. Now that we have a mixed race president it is time to examie why we find it so hard to talk about race.

    February 19, 2009 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
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