WASHINGTON (CNN) - Two months after Attorney General Eric Holder was widely criticized for his assertion that Americans are a "nation of cowards" for not openly discussing race, Holder said Wednesday he now sees some movement.
"I think there is a dialogue going on. But I'm still worried the comfort level isn't there," Holder told the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Holder told the organization's luncheon at the National Press Club in Washington the discomfort is particularly evident on the subject of affirmative action. He said citizens are reluctant to speak out, fearing that they'll be "seen as a racist."
Holder said he supports affirmative action and sees it as a way "to encourage diversity where everyone wins."
The attorney general said he believes career civil rights lawyers were "cut out of the process" in important decision-making by political appointees in the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division during the Bush Administration, and wants that process reversed.
Holder, the nation's first African-American attorney general, said the election of Barack Obama reflects progress in race relations, but said statistics continue to show there is still a need for extending voting rights laws aimed at fighting discrimination.
"There are still battles to be fought, still hurdles to be overcome," he said.
Holder declined to comment on the case of former FBI agent Donald Rochon, who won a high profile lawsuit over alleged racial discrimination in the bureau, and is now challenging the FBI over his retirement benefits.
"All I know is what I've read in the paper about it," Holder said.
On other subjects, the attorney general:
–said he does not know where Guantanamo Bay detainees will be placed, and that no decisions have been made.
–promised Justice officials will follow the evidence and the law to determine whether Bush administration officials will be prosecuted, and "we'll see how things develop."
–asserted Vice President Cheney is "dead wrong" in claiming the country is less safe under the Obama administration. "We are as safe now as we have ever been," he said.
holder...prepare for trial in four years along with napolitano
What he said was true. I see it all the time. My friends of various heritages and I laugh at it. It is so easy to detect when someone is uncomfortable (cowardly) regarding any discussion of the difference in skin tone.
From my perspective (and I would say my friends' also), most American need to just relax about it all.
Ya gotta have fuadmire the commonalities and have the occasional good natured laugh about the differences. That's why my friends of various heritages are my friends!
Finally an Attorney General that gets it right!!
It is not the duty of elected or appointed officials to tell American citizens what topics to discuss and whom they must "talk" with about assigned subjects. That is insulting and pushy and an example of why comfortable dialogues are not exchanged. Do not order me to talk to select groups and tell me what to say in my "free" time.
I'm all for diversity as long as the MOST qualified individual makes ranks.
Affirmative action is an oxymoron for racial divide......Please
Holder is a race baiter
I pray the President chose a good man
Investigate, Indict. Prosecute.
If it leads to Cheney and Pelosi being led away in handcuffs, so be it.
Torture IS illegal.......made God give you the courage to protect this Republic. To restore and reclaim the Justice Dept.
Race will always be a subject of discussion in America. Sadly, EVERYTHING is based on color. It will be a wonderful day in this country in the next 50 years when most of the ignorant will no longer be here and the new generation takes over. I am real proud of how color blind they are. They base their emotions on the person and not the color. While Mr. Holder will be labeled a "racist" and everyone is entitled to their opinion he is only stating a fact. This country has a long ways to go before it reaches the "comfort level." Just look at the mccain/palin rallies. America at its worse. Need I say more?
Eric Holder wants to openly discuss racism well here goes...what about the story posted yesterday of the Black couple in Chicago that is starting a 'Shop Black stores only movement' That's as racist has one can get but I guess only us White folks can be labeled a racist or can be charged with a Hate Crime. And that moniker African-American is plain stupid! Make up your mind, are you an American or not? The only one that can lay claim to being a true African America is Obama.
I have a suggestion for you.. Quit worrying about what the white people think about you and just get your nose to the grind stone and show us what your made of. IF your made of courage, you will go after the theives ane thugs who ran our country and economy into the ground. You will go after those who tortured using your (and our) name as the reason they tortured. You'll show the folks of the United States you are worthy of being our Attorney General NOT AS A BLACK MAN but as an intelligent person who President Obama put all of our trust in by hiring you... Thank you very much...
I am not offended in the least by having a black man in the oval office. I am offended by having a dumb man in the oval office, who happens to be black. There, Mr Holder, I feel perfectly comfortable saying that.
Will there be affirmative action when whites become the minority?????????
What people don't know is that WHITE WOMEN have benefited more from affirmative action than any other minority group. People need to discuss this.
Get rid of affirmative action and white women will be hardest hit.
The sad part is, it is people like Holder , jesse, the not-so-reverend Al and their ilk, that keep race in the forefront and not "human" aspect instead. If these race-based hate mongers stayed out of it and mankind acted as they should, we could all get along.........................
There will always be degenerates in every sect of society, but their are the decent ones that know how to treat other's and do so completely without regard "race". STOP shoving your hate into the Countries dialogue and start treating us all as humans, not races!!!!
Dear lord – does this guy think he's Dr Phil or the Attorney General??
Holder is an example of what a country gets when they elect a community organizer!
Holder is an idiot.
He seems to be the only one talking about race and there have not been to many not of color in the WH as yet.
The white house must be about to pull off another big under handed move since they are playing the race card again for the 100th million time.
Mr Holder, you are still a race monger who keeps it alive, so you are the RACIST.
If I was to be the United States Attorney General, I am not sure that my choice of words would be nation of cowards. However I do appreciate where Eric Holder is coming from. I have often wondered that the same absence of dialogue is prevalent for people with disabilities. On the subject of race relations I find the talk shows hosted by Tavis Smiley to be very motivational and positive. I often see similar round tables for women and the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Trans-Gender, and Queer) Communities. The disability advocacy groups need to fight for the same visibility and focus on the same outreach.
We can't start making progress on cultural issues until we start being honest. The first thing to do is stop using the term "race" to identify ethnic diversity. There is only one race. The human race. And we are rather unremarkable as far as diversity goes. The term "race" is used to keep us divided so one group can assert its superiority over another. We can't start treating ourselves like brothers until we see ourselves as brothers.
Race is not just with black & white. There is a lot with blacks and people from other countries & whites ande people from other countries. That will never stop. It is the nature of some people, but we are still hopeful.
"Holder said he supports affirmative action and sees it as a way 'to encourage diversity where everyone wins.'"
If people care one way or the other about the color of other people's skin, it's racism, and using the word "diversity" is just a way to pretty that up.
"Affirmative action" is racism.
Eric Holder is a racist for even implying that I am a coward. I treat everyone based on the person. I don't owe black people anything. Holder sounds like Perez Hilton with his comments.
We must continue to voite for civil rights, otherwise, all will be lost; just because we now have an African American President – things have not changed too far down the line; I personally know we as african americans must know more – prove ourselves more; cannot even think about obtaining the jobs awared to whites without having more knowledge, education and verbal command of the english language. I doubt the struggle will end in my life time @ my age of 56.