So the Attorney General thinks we’re cowards because we don’t talk about race as much as he would like. Apparently he wants us to talk about it a lot. Maybe he does, although that is not his reputation here in Washington (he’s considered a consummate professional and a true expert on jurisprudence by his peers, including many who are Republicans).
I was offended by Holder’s remarks. I think they’re obnoxious, ignorant, unhelpful and inappropriate. An awful lot of Americans fought very hard for many years to defeat those who wanted to talk about race a lot. The whole point of that fight was, as Dr. King put it, to ensure that Americans would be judged by their character and accomplishments, and not by their “race.” That cause was considerably advanced, and embraced by most Americans. But that advance has been subverted, in large part by elite lawyers and intellectuals, in the (Orwellian) name of “multiculturalism.”
Instead of insisting on a colorblind society, these people insisted on a divided one. The classic example is the university. Holder complains that, while the workplace is integrated, once people are left to their own devices, they tend to associate with “their own kind,” by which he means that whites congregate with whites, blacks with blacks, latinos with one another, and so forth. Nowhere is that so true as on university campuses, where authorities have permitted, and in many cases required, separate housing, separate departments, and even separate eating facilities for those racial and ethnic groups, in total defiance of the whole civil rights movement. Those separate facilities are utterly intolerable as social institutions, and it is even worse than that; “separate but equal,” the racist policy against which we all fought in the sixties, now has high intellectual standing. Blacks are held to be the only legitimate professors of “black history,” Jews the only proper teachers of “Jewish history,” and so on down the line. The case that demonstrated this most clearly to me was when Harvard students protested against Professor Steve Thernstrom, arguably the most brilliant social historian in America, because, being white, he could not possibly be permitted to teach American social history insofar as it dealt with slavery and white racism. Receiving only token support from Harvard’s profs and deans, he stopped teaching it, to the detriment of a generation of students.