Holder reveals his true colors - East Valley Tribune: Columnists

Holder reveals his true colors

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Susan Stamper Brown is a motivational speaker and military advocate and can be reached at susan@susanstamperbrown.com or at www.susanstamperbrown.com

Posted: Friday, March 11, 2011 3:45 am | Updated: 12:51 pm, Sat Mar 12, 2011.

The 2008 presidential election was supposed to usher in a utopian post-racial America where race no longer has a seat at the table of national affairs; A place where once for all, Americans would have equal justice under the law. But, I guess we'll have to wait.

The Department of Justice dismissal of the New Black Panther Party 2008 voter intimidation case flies in the face of the idea of racial equality because had the roles been reversed, the entire country would be consumed in a debate about racial injustice. Instead, it's simply accepted as an error in judgment. In reality, the dismissal was one of the most blatant examples of racial discrimination in recent history.

Last week during a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing on the dismissal, Attorney General Eric Holder downplayed the 2008 incident when comparing it to a relative's suffering during the civil rights movement - making the DOJ look more like the "Department of Injustice." While he is correct in saying there really is no comparison between the 2008 incident and past atrocities, Holder's position demands that he rise above personal bias.

During the same hearing, Holder used the words "my people" in an utterly discriminatory fashion. If Eric Holder were, say, an African-American civil rights attorney, this would go unnoticed. But as the United States Attorney General, Holder is charged with enforcing the law for all people, of any shape, size or color.

Reason and fair-mindedness would normally give way to excusing Holder's statement as an isolated slip of the tongue, right? After all, that's how Senate Majority leader Harry Reid got away with his "light-skinned, Negro-dialect" slip-up about President Obama awhile back. A little mercy, a little grace - that is how the game should be played in the world of politics - especially by those chosen to lead.

But, unfortunately, this administration does not play by the same rules.

In January 2008, whistleblower Christopher Coates, a DOJ civil rights attorney with 40 years' experience, was effectively stripped of management and supervisory authority while attempting to enforce race-neutrality in U.S. v. New Black Panther Party et al. Coates later testified under oath to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights describing the DOJ's conduct as a "travesty of justice" that fosters a "hostile atmosphere" against race-neutral enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. Another whistleblower and lead career attorney, Christian Adams, resigned over the "events surrounding the dismissal" of the NBPP case - calling into question the DOJ's credibility.

Every administration finds itself making decisions based solely on politics or to score points with particular voting blocks, but to move away from equal protection under the law is quite another issue that warrants an explanation. Without one, some might conclude that the highest law enforcement body in the land sees itself as above the law.

We've had tolerance and diversity shoved down our throats for decades and now we are supposed to tolerate thugs guarding a polling station as acceptable? If it wasn't so serious, it would be laughable.

Ignoring this travesty will not right past wrongs, it only serves to further alienate one group from another. Punishing one generation for the sins of a prior generation long past will never succeed. We are generations-removed from slavery, 50 years removed from the civil rights movement, and two years removed from the election of Barack Obama. Might it be time to move forward?

Just two years ago, during his Black History Month speech Holder said, "I fear however, that we are taking steps that, rather than advancing us as a nation are actually dividing us even further. We still speak too much of "them" and not "us."


• Susan Stamper Brown is a motivational speaker and military advocate and can be reached at susan@susanstamperbrown.com or at www.susanstamperbrown.com

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