A Racial Lever for the Federal Government

There’s certainly room for derision against the attitude that Abigail Thernstrom highlights here:

In 1996, [current Attorney General Eric] Holder told the Washington Post that he always carried a favorite quotation in his wallet. A black man’s “race defines him more particularly than anything else,” it ran. Said Holder: “I am not the tall U.S. Attorney, I am not the thin U.S. Attorney. I am the black U.S. Attorney…. There’s a common cause that bonds the black U.S. Attorney with the black criminal or the black doctor with the black homeless person.” All blacks share a “common cause,” and thus, methods of election that give them proportional legislative power are a moral imperative.

The “wow” paragraph, however, has quite a bit broader an application than just Mr. Holder:

For more than two decades, the drawing of race-conscious single-member districts has been the standard means of achieving that proportionality when the level of minority officeholding has been found to be unacceptably low. But, in the best of circumstances, race-driven maps “waste” black votes. Inevitably, many black voters end up in majority-white districts and find themselves represented by a white–which is to say without representation, by the Guinier and Holder definition.
The three systems to which the Justice Department has recently agreed are assumed to be much more likely to guarantee true proportionality. They have involved school-district elections in Euclid, Ohio; town-commissioner elections in Lake Park, Fla.; and trustee elections in Port Chester, N.Y. These were towns in which, despite a significant minority population, no blacks or Hispanics had been elected to public office. The Justice Department had filed suit, and, given the absence of elected minority representatives, there was no chance the towns could successfully defend their methods of election.

Look what’s been done in the name of racial sensitivity: The federal government is dictating election results to lower governments. Based on physical racial attributes, a distant government is telling small, local communities that their democratic outcomes are not acceptable. What’s not acceptable is a governing system what makes use of such levers.
One can’t help but wonder whether the rapidly declining value of the race card plays some role in the desperate search for other justifications for expanding power, such as nationalized healthcare and environmentalism.

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joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Lani Guinier is half-Jewish,but ashamed of her mother apparently.Same as author Walter Moseley,who ran away from that revelation on CSpan.Scumbags.
C’mon Rhody-lets hear a smart remark you punk.

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

The Statists are aware that the tide has turned among the people and they no longer can fool a majority. They have been exposed by their own inability to manage the reality of America’s situation either domestically or in world affairs. They are now engaged in a desperate effort to seize power before they can be turned out. They are dangerous precisely because they are so desperate.
The coming year has great potential for the success of freedom-loving, Constitutional Americans in stopping the Statist offensive, but it will involved a level of political conflict that we have not seen since the 1800s. Both nationally and within Rhode Island, the scenes may well resemble an installment of the Rings trilogy – but will it be the second episode or the third?

David S
David S
11 years ago

Have you ever heard of gerrymandering?
This from Wikipedia
In Pennsylvania, the Republican-dominated state legislature used gerrymandering to help defeat Democratic representative Frank Mascara. Mascara was elected to Congress in 1994. In 2002 the Republican Party altered the boundaries of his original district so much that he was pitted against fellow Democratic candidate John Murtha in the election. The shape of Mascara’s newly drawn district formed a finger that stopped at his street, encompassing his house though not the spot where he parked his car. Murtha won the election in the newly formed district.[30]
State legislatures have used gerrymandering along racial or ethnic lines both to decrease and increase minority representation in state governments and congressional delegations. In the state of Ohio, a conversation between Republican officials was recorded that demonstrated that redistricting was being done to aid their political candidates. Furthermore, the discussions assessed race of voters as a factor in redistricting, because African-Americans had backed Democratic candidates. Republicans apparently removed approximately 13,000 African American voters from the district of Jim Raussen, a Republican candidate for the House of Representatives, in an attempt to tip the scales in what was once a competitive district for Democratic candidates.[31]

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“I am not the tall U.S. Attorney, I am not the thin U.S. Attorney. I am the black U.S. Attorney…. There’s a common cause that bonds the black U.S. Attorney with the black criminal or the black doctor with the black homeless person.”
Disgusting. Absolutely revolting. What a completely backwards, racist man. This is what the progressive approach to race leads to… everybody being defined by what they are instead of who they are. How could anybody possibly think that this kind of mentality is going to make things better in this country instead of worse?

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

Um, Dan?
I think you’re confused about what Holder is saying.
He is not saying that he should be defined by his race. He is saying that others define him by his race (rather than who he is) and that he has this experience in common with other black Americans.
How does that make him racist?

Marty
Marty
11 years ago

What you say is plausable Thomas, but I disagree. Some people — even blacks who have risen to the top of their fields, despite “being defined by his race, rather than WHO he is” as you put it — still seem to see a racist boogeyman behind every bush.
I call BS on that. Eric Holder didn’t become U.S. Attorney because of the color of his skin, any more than BHO became POTUS because of his.
Yet if they continue to insist on definining themselves by the color of their skin, they have no right to complain when the rest of us do the same.
It’s an all too convenient excuse for failure and low expectations — and doubly appalling when it comes from people at the top of their game. As if they need an excuse for anything.

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Marty,
You give Thomas’s reading too much credit. As with much of his commentary (and most people’s, to be sure), he’s inclined to interpret those with whom he agrees charitably and those with whom he disagrees by the harshest light. The interpretation that he offers above doesn’t begin to account for the phrase “common cause,” which indicates something quite different from “common experience.”
It’s one thing for a U.S. Attorney to have the latter with a criminal, another to have the former.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

I don’t think that’s what he was saying, Thomas, especially in light of his previous outrageous comments, like calling Americans racial cowards (for not talking about race enough? Seriously?)
Does it even make much of a difference? Somebody who incorrectly (and rather offensively, I might add) assumes that everyone else is defining them by their race and somebody who defines themselves by race are quite similar, if not identical. Both have some sort of emotional issue which has made them hypersensitive to the issue and it always ends the same way – with paranoia and accusations.
One of the saddest phenomenons I have personally witnessed in higher education is when students organize themselves in minority race-based organizations, proceed to spend all of their time with the organization, and then conclude that they are being discriminated against when all of their friends end up being of that race (“where are all the white people?”). The opposite is true, of course. They themselves are excluding everyone who isn’t their own race by making them feel unwelcome by the very existence and exclusionary name of the organization in which they have chosen to participate.
And the progressive cycle of resentment continues…and the progressive cycle of resentment continues…same as it ever was…same as it ever was…

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

The new segregation is that which is self-imposed,such as separate dorms for certain groups How stupid and regressive is that?But the liberal academics find excuses for it.

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

We can always use the old substitution property from math class to check if Holder’s statement is racist or not. Would it be appropriate for me to say:
“I always carry a favorite quotation in my wallet. A white man’s ‘race defines him more particularly than anything else.’ I am not the tall U.S. Attorney, I am not the thin U.S. Attorney. I am the white U.S. Attorney. There’s a common cause that bonds the white U.S. Attorney with the white criminal or the white doctor with the white homeless person.”
That would be a resounding…NO. So yes, it is racist.
Joe writes – “The new segregation is that which is self-imposed,such as separate dorms for certain groups How stupid and regressive is that?But the liberal academics find excuses for it.”
Whenever I point out the hypocrisy of progressive policies which in practice serve to segregate/define people by race or give certain groups preferences, they usually justify it with something to the effect of “the whites have had their turn, get out of the way” or shut down the conversation entirely by telling me that I “don’t get to object” to it because I’m white, or I “couldn’t possibly understand” because I’m white. Yeah, and I, the one who treats everyone equally, am the racist according to them…what a sick joke. We really are living in Bizzaro World, where up is down and wrong is right, where the person who is colorblind is racist and the person who gives people extra points on their application based upon their bloodline is egalitarian.

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

25538Dan says:
We can always use the old substitution property from math class to check if Holder’s statement is racist or not. Would it be appropriate for me to say:
“I always carry a favorite quotation in my wallet. A white man’s ‘race defines him more particularly than anything else.’ I am not the tall U.S. Attorney, I am not the thin U.S. Attorney. I am the white U.S. Attorney. There’s a common cause that bonds the white U.S. Attorney with the white criminal or the white doctor with the white homeless person.”
That would be a resounding…NO. So yes, it is racist.

Dan,
You may or may not be right that Holder is racist, but your “proof” above is fatally flawed. I have a friend here who is from the south. She is smarter than most people I know, but has a deep southern drawl, to which many people here have an immediate (and negative) reaction.
Your “substitution” argument says that, if she says “people judge me on the basis of my accent”, she is being bigoted unless it’s also true that it makes sense for you to claim that you are judged on the basis of your accent.
I don’t think that’s logical.

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

Thomas, the example you give of your Southern friend is a complete non sequitur from what Dan wrote.
The operative section of Dan’s example is the “common cause” sentence. Perhaps you would respond to that rather than misdirecting the discussion.

Warrington Faust
Warrington Faust
11 years ago

Your “substitution” argument says that, if she says “people judge me on the basis of my accent”, she is being bigoted unless it’s also true that it makes sense for you to claim that you are judged on the basis of your accent.
I don’t think that’s logical.
Although I am charmed by “slow talk and redneck ways”, it gives the speaker more time to think. Apparently many do not agree. There are schools in the South to help you lose your accent. Alabama and Mississippi TV are almost devoid of accents, only politicians retain them and then only traces. In my own family, I have seen the loss of accent from one generation to the next.
I agree that it is the lack of “common cause” that makes this a poor analogy. “Y’all come back” with a better one.

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

Since you fellows are all in agreement, perhaps you can help me out…
What do you think the “common cause” that Holder speaks of is?
I assumed that it was “being seen as a human being and not being seen as a “black” human being”?
(Please, please do not tell me that we’ve alrady reached the point where people aren’t judged by the color of their skin)
Is it something else?
If so, what? And what evidence do you have for that thing, whatever it is?

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Thomas,
Your understanding of the term “common cause” is at odds with its usage in the English language:

A joint interest, as in “The common cause against the enemies of piety” (from John Dryden’s poem, Religio laici, or a Layman’s Faith, 1682). This term originated as to make common cause (with), meaning “to unite one’s interest with another’s.” In the mid-1900s the name Common Cause was adopted by a liberal lobbying group.

The racial determinism of the left dictates that a common (left-wing) cause should be assumed among those with common experience (even just common skin color), but a non-ideological professor who prides himself on the inability of students to discern his political leanings should have sufficient objectivity to see that they are, in fact, two separate commonalities.

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

Justin,
I feel I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole…
Your understanding of the term “common cause” is at odds with its usage in the English language:… “A joint interest,”
Nothing at all in what I said contradicts this to any extent. “a joint interest in being seen as a human being and not being seen as a “black” human being” works just fine.
The racial determinism of the left dictates that…
Well, this sentence simply does not make grammatical or logical sense.
Again, what is this supposed “common cause”?
And, aren’t you getting a little personal?

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“What do you think the “common cause” that Holder speaks of is…I assumed that it was “being seen as a human being and not being seen as a “black” human being”…Is it something else?…If so, what? And what evidence do you have for that thing, whatever it is?”
Presumably the “common cause” would be the advancement or uplifting of “the blacks” from the disadvantaged state in which he sees them as being. My evidence draws from his own choices of examples. His comparisons all center around the “blackness” of the individuals and as Justin has pointed out, a common cause is some kind of shared interest that the two would share and be working towards. If it was really just about other people’s perceptions, his choice of wording doesn’t make much sense, unless you are willing to do mental acrobatics to change the plain meaning of the words based on assumptions that really aren’t supported with what’s there.
I think if you showed his quote to 10 people on the street and asked them what he meant by it, at least 9 would say he meant that all black people, no matter what their occupation or status, need to stick together and work together, or something to that effect. Whatever he meant, that is the plain meaning most people would get from it. So his statement is reckless at worst and racist at best. It doesn’t matter much which in my book, it’s a terrible thing to say. I don’t think we should even be classifying people this way in the first place, what is the point of it?

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Thomas,
From where I sit, you’ve back-filled so far that your reinterpretation of one part of Holder’s statement conflicts directly with another of his. He likes the fact that “race defines him more particularly than anything else.” Clearly, his “common cause” is not to eliminate the bond of being seen particularly as “black.”

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

Justin says,
“[Holder] likes the fact that “race defines him more particularly than anything else.””
Oh. I see. OK, then.

OldTimeLefty
11 years ago

Thomas Schmelling,
Cede the floor to the ignorant. I doubt that any of those who see racism in Holder’s comments have close friends who are actually black people. I think they have little or no idea of what racism is, how it affects people or influences their path through the world. Be charitable and chalk it up to their limited interracial experience. They know not what they say.
It is also very interesting to note that no one responded to David S’ comments regarding Gerrymandering. What, it never happened here??
OldTimeLefty

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“Cede the floor to the ignorant. I doubt that any of those who see racism in Holder’s comments have close friends who are actually black people. I think they have little or no idea of what racism is, how it affects people or influences their path through the world. Be charitable and chalk it up to their limited interracial experience. They know not what they say.”
This is a perfect illustration of the point I made in my earlier post about how all the progressive racial hypersensitivity and paranoia is counterproductive and merely continues the cycle of resentment and accusation. Notice how you have stopped treating us as individuals and have gone so far as to disqualify us from having an opinion on the basis that we are the “wrong” race on this issue, or we supposedly don’t know enough people of the “right” race to overcome our inherent racial limitations in this area.
Yes, I do have black friends. I do know what actual racism is. Holder’s comments qualify. Unlike you, I do not exempt him from being capable of racism just because he is black. I actually treat everyone equally instead of making generalizations about them based upon their race or putting them in special boxes.
OTL has gazed too long into the racial abyss and the abyss has gazed back into him. Like so many well-meaning but misguided progressives, he has become that which he originally set out to destroy – a racist.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

OTL-I must be ignorant,having been interacially married for 39 years.Unless dark skinned Hispanics like my wife don’t count in this conversation.She has pretty much my attitude and has no use for Hispanics who play the “race card”.My older grandaughter is Black,Hispanic,Cgerokee and White.But of course I guess I don’t “associate” with “those people”.
You’ve outdone yourself.
I grew up in a mixed neighborhood and my high school was about 60/40 White to Black.My firt girlfriend in high school was Jamaican.
Sometimes you “talk” without putting your brain in gear.And you too smart to do that.
Holder impresses me as a racist,bitter man.And as I’ve said before.he went to the best schools and didn’t come from a broken home.(Nor did the vast majority of Black students in my high school,which is why,almost 50 years later,most graduates of that school have had similar outcomes-we still communicate via Internet).
As I recall,not a single Black girl in my high school was pregnant.The only girl that got knocked up was Jewish.
I can guarantee you it was no elite school,either-it was distinctly inner city.
Race is overplayed as a cause of problems.Home life,and what young people associate with as positive are more important.
Even then,it’s the individual who is ultimately responsible for what they do in life.
Just for sh*ts aand giggles,OTL,do you have any non-White relatives,or neighbors,for that matter?

Justin Katz
11 years ago

Thomas,
No need for condescension. The whole conversation begins with Holder raising “a favorite quotation.” You’re just incorrect in reinterpreting his commentary to jibe with your preferences. There’s no shame in admitting it.
OTL,
I didn’t respond to David S because the very first sentence of the second blockquote of the post is: “For more than two decades, the drawing of race-conscious single-member districts has been the standard means of achieving that proportionality when the level of minority officeholding has been found to be unacceptably low.” That is: gerrymandering. If folks aren’t going to read closely enough to understand what’s being said, I reserve the right to pick and choose which I respond to, depending on my own interest.

BobN
BobN
11 years ago

Thomas, you are trying so hard to be clever that it is backfiring on you. Perhaps if you dropped the clumsy attempts at sophistry you would look less ridiculous.
Who knows, you might have something worthwhile to say but no one can tell at this point.

Tim
Tim
11 years ago

What Eric Holder will never acknowledge is that his race is not how he is defined by others but is how he chooses to define himself.
There is a HUGE difference.
To claim that skin color equates to a “common cause” among people of widely varied backgrounds and life experiences is racist.
Pure and simple!
I’ve had many occassions to chat with some black Africans over here on work visas for several years now. They choose to be in this country, they are as black as black can get and they laugh at Eric’s “common cause”. The black doctor and the black homeless man have no greater commonality than the Chinese doctor and the Chinese homeless man or the Portuguese doctor and the Portuguese homeless man. To claim some special “common cause” among those of like skin color is racism and Holder is a racist.
Perhaps one day Eric will see himself simply as a US Attorney and nothing more. When that happens Eric Holder will have “arrived” in the present day and left the 1960’s behind.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

Holder’s hangups on race are secondary by miles to his past strange dealings with terrorist groups(FALN and FARC);Marc Rich;his snide attempt to try for another “assault weapons ban”(read as gun ban,period);and his inexplicable decision to try the 9-11 terrorists as civilian criminals and in NY instead of Virginia.Maybe Holder doesn’t think the attack on the Pentagon was even a crime.I wish I were kidding ,but I’m not.It isn’t a subject for a joke.
I thought Ramsey Clark and Benjamin Civiletti were horrible AG’s(Janet Reno spent her tenure drunk);John Mitchell and his replacement,Kleindienst, were criminals.
None of them comes near this man for sheer unfitness for the job.

OldTimeLefty
11 years ago

joe,
If I cared to, I could list over a dozen relatives of color. You’ll just have to take my word for it.
Justin,
The word haughty would better define your pick and choose attitude. You have been characterizing yourself as such since I’ve been acquainted with your postings. David S has made a valid point, and rather than answer you resort to arrogant ignorance.
OldTimeLefty

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

OTL-well, I have no reason to question your veracity.You aren’t the resident liar around here..I don’t have a dozen-or maybe I do-lessee…probably about that many counting my Mohawk cousins and their kids.So why do you assume others of us here are clueless about race?Or that Schmeling isn’t?You automatically defer to the academic,and blow others off.He has outstanding credentials in his field,but life in academia,far from being broadening is ironically very narrow.
In the 50’s and 60’s it(race) was a real barrier to living where you wnted to,voting,public accomodation,etc.
Today it isn’t regardless of what you say.
I’d love to see you answer the very specific problems I noted with both Holder’s whining about something that never held him back,and his past actions.Or is that too boring?

OldTimeLefty
11 years ago

joe, It was government intervention which put teeth into the civil rights movement and did away with official or legal segregation. You know and remember that, I’m sure. What I find disconcerting today is how easily some throw about the word “racism”. Shakespeare best explains how I feel about many who cry reverse racism when he said, “He jests at scars, that never felt a wound”. I suspect latent bigotry, can’t prove it, but it’s a gut feel. I remember being 13 years old when the city of Philadelphia created a recreation center in our Italian-American neighborhood. Its administration was in the hands of a very Irish “gentleman” who expressed nothing but scorn for the “wops” he had to deal with. He was refereeing a basketball game in which I was playing. Basketball was a completely new game to me. Heretofore we had actually hung a peach basket on a telephone pole and threw up a leather ball at it. We didn’t know the rules or ever previously had a chance to play indoors in a refereed game. I was taking the ball in bounds after a basket and kept one leg out of bounds and stepped onto the court with the other foot. The “gentleman” in question whistled me for an infraction. I had no idea what it was. A few minutes later the same situation occurred and I again got whistled. This time I tried to ask him what I had done. The “gentleman” went in my face and told me that if I said another word he would throw me out of the recreation center. I saw the look and the anger on his face, and knew exactly what it was. He wasn’t going to take any lip from any wise-ass dago kid. At that point I… Read more »

Dan
Dan
11 years ago

“It wouldn’t stand up in a court of law, but I was looking into the face of racial hatred.”
Actually it would, circumstantial evidence is entirely valid and in Title VII cases after the Plaintiff establishes a prima facie case the burden then shifts to the Defendant to prove that they did not discriminate. Most people who make broad sweeping claims about our society being racist or some such thing have no idea how easy it is to prove a Title VII claim if there is any actual evidence of it. And if there is no evidence, those people shouldn’t be making accusations in the first place.
“It’s been over 60 years and I remember it as if it were yesterday.”
I’m not insensitive to what happened to you and what you’ve seen in your past, and I think it is extremely important to remember our history, especially the distasteful parts. However it is clear that in this case, these things have not only influenced you, but tainted your perspective. As a relatively young person, I have a fresh look at the new generations without the baggage and warping influence of the past, and I can definitively say that actual “racist racists” in these generations are one in a thousand now, if that. The only causes of racial strife I have ever encountered in my own generation have been resentment surrounding affirmative action programs (on both sides) and people falsely accusing others of racism for personal benefit.

joe bernstein
joe bernstein
11 years ago

OTL-I spent a good part of my life in occupations that weren’t very Jew-friendly.I dealt with it either violently at first,and later by just doing my job well and standing my ground. What I never did was whine.I HATE Jews who wine.That’s my personal prerogative since I am one by background. I understand what the government did during the segregation era.it was necessary because segregation was illegal and it was still there.It violated the 14th and 15th Amendments because separate meant unequal in the bargain.For a man to fight for his country and come home unable to vote or buy a friggin’ soda was abominable. I once had the weird experience of getting into a fight with some “friends” while in the service because they objected to me dating a female service member who was Black/Cherokee from Oklahoma-a real nice kid she was.And it was none of their business.I didn’t get intimidated and I found out who my friends were and weren’t when the brawl took place. one guy who jumped in on my side was a White guy from Tennessee,and the main instigator was from Pennsylvania. Unfortunately the one person who reallty got hurt was the barracks chief,who was trying to break it up. Of course,no one had a beef afterwards. The reason they were pissed at me?If I dated a Black woman,the Blacks would date White women.Not my problem the way I saw it. Nowadays,very few people give rat’s ass over things like that. There is a form of “racism” that is pervasive,if usually unconscious-if a person is Irish/Italian,or even Asian/Caucasian,or Latino/Anglo,they are referred to that way.If someone is Black to any degree,it doesn’t matter what else they are-they are always “Black”.Denying that is just unrealistic. What we don’t need is the AG lecturing the citizenry repeatedly over… Read more »

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

Justin and BobN,
I was trying to be neither clever nor condescending. I simply found Justin’s statement that
“{Holder} likes the fact that race defines him more particularly than anything else.”to be so implausible and lacking in evidence that I could not conceive of any rational response.

Thomas Schmeling
Thomas Schmeling
11 years ago

Oh, by the way..
Has anybody else actually read the 1996 Holder interview?
Has anybody else noticed that the “All blacks share a “common cause,” and thus, methods of election that give them proportional legislative power are a moral imperative.” bit that’s tacked on to the quote has nothing to do with anything that’s in the actual article?
Not that it matters

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