It appears that after a decade or two of acting like they care about law and order, Democrats are lurching back to being soft on crime. Attorney General Eric Holder indicated as much when he launched a frontal assault on “stand your ground” laws Tuesday.

From the 1960s well into the 1980s, laws regarding criminal justice and self-defense were stacked heavily against law-abiding Americans. Liberal judges routinely handed down minimal sentences after criminals had been convicted of heinous crimes. Americans who had defended themselves against criminals using force, often in their own homes, faced severe prosecution for exercising their natural right to defend their loved ones, their homes and their property. Crime rates soared and outrage built up as the legal system allowed criminal after criminal to walk free while acting in self-defense could ruin a law-abiding American’s life. Liberals did all of this in the name of “social justice,” on a theory that the system is inherently racist, poverty causes crime, and society is ultimately to blame for criminals. Crime victims by implication had it coming, and criminals are just misunderstood and should be freed after serving token sentences.

Two reactions evolved to stem the power of liberal judges and overzealous prosecutors who were making life easier for criminals. One was mandatory minimum sentencing. Legislatures passed laws tying the hands of judges so they had far less power to unleash violent criminals back onto the streets. Another was passing castle doctrine and stand your ground laws to codify the right of self-defense. These laws made it more difficult for prosecutors to grandstand and persecute Americans who had used force to defend themselves against violent criminals. State after state also passed concealed carry laws to enable Americans to exercise their Second Amendment right to carry firearms to defend themselves. This year, Illinois became the 50th state to pass concealed carry. Notably, its liberal Democrat governor, Pat Quinn, did everything he could to stop that law from passing. We would probably not have needed any of these laws had liberals simply respected the criminal justice system and the obvious and natural right of people defend themselves and their loved ones from lawbreakers.

As castle doctrine, stand your ground and concealed carry laws swept across the country, violent crime rates went down. Except, notably, in cities controlled by liberal Democrats, where strict gun control laws continue to tilt against the right of self-defense. Outside those cities, as Americans have increasingly exercised their right to bear arms and laws buttressed their right to defend themselves with deadly force if necessary, crime rates went down. Crime rates stayed down even when the economy faltered, contrary to a cherished leftist myth that poverty leads directly to crime.

Here we are in 2013, a nation with a weak economy and awash in guns yet our violent crime rate continues to go down. Up to now, criminals have operated knowing in the back of their heads that they might find themselves facing off against armed citizens. Liberals are now conspiring to remove that fear from the minds of criminals.

Barack Obama’s virulent anti-gun attitude coupled with a pair of spectacular crimes and a tragic case in which the media dishonestly injected race now threaten to turn the clock back on Americans’ self-defense rights. Obama and his anti-gun allies seized on the Aurora, Colorado, shooting and the Sandy Hook massacre to push hard and fast against the Second Amendment. Several states including Colorado and Connecticut responded by passing strict gun control laws. The new strict gun control laws would not have stopped either crime. The federal laws Obama pushed in Congress likewise would not have stopped either crime. Stopping crime, then, appears not to be the point of any of the Democrats’ new gun laws.

Stand your ground laws had nothing to do with the altercation between Trayvon Martin and George Zimmernan on February 26, 2012. Likewise, race had nothing to do with that altercation. Bad weather, a young man who was in an unfamiliar neighborhood, and a spate of unsolved burglaries and home invasions had everything to do with that tragic night. But the media led by NBC News injected race, and Barack Obama seized on Trayvon Martin’s death alongside race hustlers Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to build pressure to prosecute George Zimmerman. Even after Zimmerman’s acquittal, while Obama has remained strategically silent, Holder used his NAACP address Tuesday to argue that stand your ground laws must be re-examined.

The dishonesty of changing the subject from ordinary self-defense to stand your ground laws is breathtaking. Zimmerman never invoked stand your ground. He won acquittal arguing ordinary self-defense. He won because in our system, a defendant is innocent until the state proves him guilty and the state of Florida lacked the evidence to prove him guilty. As the nation’s top law enforcement officer, Holder has an obligation to uphold our laws, not launch deceitful political attacks against them. He has an obligation to cool tempers calling for the federal government to come down on Zimmerman, not egg those tempers on.

It’s obvious now as it has been for years that Eric Holder is a racist and he leads a racist application of laws and philosophy. He dropped the federal government’s victorious case against the New Black Panther Party for voter intimidation because the NBPB were, according to Holder, “my people.” His Justice Department fanned the flames of outrage against George Zimmerman because Trayvon Martin was black, not because the facts mandated DOJ’s involvement. Young black men die violently nearly every day in Chicago. Their killers are most often other young black men. Holder stands silently by and his Justice Department does not deploy its Community Relations Service to demand any sort of justice.

If this latest attack on self-defense succeeds, soft-on-crime liberals will be back to ruining the world for law-abiding citizens. Americans will once again face off against violent criminals who will have every reason to believe that they can act with relative impunity, and against a system that tilts against the right of self-defense. Good Americans of all races will end up dead just so Barack Obama and Eric Holder can score political points and distract from their administration’s appalling record on jobs, on privacy, on government abusing its power and suppressing dissent, and other issues.