My apologies to those of you who were skimming the New Yorker's website over the weekend and discovered that I am a racist. I really should have been the first to tell you.
You see, the nation's premier left-unopened-on-the-coffee-table publication published a post by Alex Koppelman on Friday entitled "Holder, Contempt and Race," in which yours truly, along with Rush Limbaugh, Dinesh D'Souza, and the Wall Street Journal editorial page had our motives for criticizing the Obama Administration generally (and Attorney General Eric Holder specifically) called into question. This being the New Yorker, of course, the smackdown was applied with a velvet glove:
There’s a reason that Holder is, next to the President himself, the member of the Obama Administration that the right most loves to hate. It’s not necessarily racism—not stemming, that is, from a belief that Holder is somehow inferior or ill-willed because he’s black—but that doesn’t mean it’s not about race.
Oh good. "Not necessarily racist." That's succinct enough to fit onto the next run of my business cards.
I can't speak for the rest of the piece's targets, but the characterization of my work bears all the hallmarks of an author who Googled his way to the quote he wanted and then failed to even read the surrounding sentences. Here's Koppelman:
At a 2011 hearing at which Holder appeared, John Culberson, a congressman from Texas, told him, “There’s clearly evidence, overwhelming evidence, that your Department of Justice refuses to protect the rights of anybody other than African Americans to vote.” In a piece published by the Daily Caller, Troy Senik, a former speechwriter for President George W. Bush who’s now a senior fellow with the Center for Individual Freedom, psychoanalyzed Holder based on comments he made at that hearing and diagnosed “racial tribalism.” “The attorney general’s obsession with race has been monomaniacal,” Senik wrote. Similarly, last month, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page slammed Holder for his “racial incitement strategy,” and accused him of “using his considerable power to inflame racial antagonism.”
Now, for your edification, here's the full passage from the piece in question:
... Since the very beginning of the Obama administration, [Holder's] fixation on racial issues has been as consistent as it is divisive.
The first sign of this pernicious trend came in the earliest days of Holder’s tenure, when his Justice Department refused to prosecute members of the New Black Panther Party who stood outside a Philadelphia polling place on Election Day 2008 wearing paramilitary outfits and shouting racial slurs at white voters while one of them brandished a billy club. While video of the incident left the public aghast, the DOJ dropped nearly all of the charges and dramatically narrowed the others, claiming the press had overblown the entire affair.
Amidst allegations that senior Justice Department officials wanted the case killed because they didn’t believe that civil rights laws should apply to white voters, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights launched an investigation. During that time, one Justice Department official, J. Christian Adams, resigned his position after his superiors instructed him not to respond to a subpoena.
Attorney General Holder, for his part, was unmoved. When grilled on Capitol Hill about the Justice Department’s failure to follow through on the case, Holder snapped when Republican Congressman John Culberson of Texas quoted Democratic activist Bartle Bull — who witnessed the event — as saying that it was “the most blatant form of voter discrimination I have encountered in my life.”
“Think about that,” replied the petulant attorney general. “When you compare what people endured in the South in the ’60s to try to get the right to vote for African Americans, and to compare what people were subjected to there to what happened in Philadelphia — which was inappropriate, certainly that … to describe it in those terms I think does a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line, who risked all, for my people.”
It was a moment of self-consciously righteous rage that spoke volumes about Holder’s psychology. There was racial tribalism (“my people”), the characterization of a disgusting event as something like a breach of etiquette (“inappropriate, certainly”) and a failure to grasp right and wrong in absolute, rather than relative, terms (whether or not the Black Panthers incident rose to the same level as the most egregious injustices of the Civil Rights era has no bearing on whether or not it should have been prosecuted). Each of those traits have been hallmarks of the Holder era.
Since five and a half paragraphs may stretch the attention spans of the folks at the New Yorker to their breaking point, let me summarize: the point is that race should not be a factor in the equal administration of justice. Many of us on the right who are hostile to the current Attorney General have arrived at this disposition because we cling to the quaint notion that melanin count is neither a mitigating nor an exacerbating factor in determinations of right or wrong, legal or illegal. Indeed, most of us would argue that the full force of the law should come down on the members of the New Black Panthers with the same vigor as if the incident had involved Klan members outside a polling place in the Deep South. And for our expectations of a color-blind society we are accused of an obsession with race.
There is one bright spot here, however: After the publication of my recent City Journal piece on the California Teachers Association, one letter to the editor alleged that I was advancing "The War on Women" (because of the decidedly female bent of the union). Now I've been accused of "not necessarily racism" in the New Yorker. That means that if I can get the hat trick by being called a homophobe in the pages of The Nation, I get a tote bag from the Koch Brothers. Things are looking up!