In a statement to Greta Van Susteren, a Department of Justice spokesperson said that, actually, Holder didn’t invoke his race as a reason the “more extreme segment” of his critics oppose him. The DOJ statement reads:
That is a complete distortion of the attorney general’s comment. His comments both in the article and elsewhere made clear that he believes much of the criticism launched against him [is] unfortunately the typical Washington gotcha game. A simple reading of those comments show he was referring to how he is identified with the president given their close relationship and all they share in common, including their ideology. The position of the attorney general has been a target for partisan attacks, and, given the critical work that this attorney general is doing at the Department of Justice, it’s no surprise that some are engaging in such tactics. His critics rightly view the attorney general as a progressive force, and, given our current political environment, there will be those who use any opportunity to score political points.
Holder and the DOJ just can’t seem to resist digging themselves in deeper and deeper, can they? Holder’s bald invocation of race in an interview with The New York Times cannot be explained away. It speaks plainly to those who have any mind at all for reading comprehension. Let’s review his comments. From The New York Times piece in question:
Of that group of critics, Mr. Holder said he believed that a few — the “more extreme segment” — were motivated by animus against Mr. Obama and that he served as a stand-in for him. “This is a way to get at the president because of the way I can be identified with him,” he said, “both due to the nature of our relationship and, you know, the fact that we’re both African-American.”
Seems pretty clear to me. He thinks his more extreme critics are motivated by the ill will they feel toward the president, and he thinks those critics conflate him with the president because Obama and he are both African-American. Perhaps that does not mean Holder thinks his critics dislike him because he is black, but it does mean he thinks his critics assume he and Obama can properly be considered substitutes for one another because they are black. To assume two people of the same race are automatically more alike than they are different is, I think, racist — and that’s precisely what Holder claims his critics do.
Now, as it happens, Obama and Holder are two people of the same race who are considerably alike, as the DOJ statement points out. They do, in fact, closely share a particular brand of progressive ideology. But that has nothing to do with race — and Holder’s critics ought to be free to object to that ideology sans accusations of racism.
The DOJ’s argument only further underscores a point Florida Rep. Allen West has made: The attorney general’s use of race as a debate-silencing tactic can best be interpreted as a sign of Holder’s increasing desperation.
For more, Mary Chastain thoroughly dissects the DOJ’s unconvincing statement here.