The EU

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Talking About Race

Our new Attorney General, Eric Holder, provided some remarks to commemorate Black History Month.  There has been some criticism for the passage:
Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards.  Though race related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race.  It is an issue we have never been at ease with and given our nation’s history this is in some ways understandable.
While I think Attorney General Holder is all wet on Gun Control, I think he is spot on about race relations.

Of course I don't want to talk about it.  What are the odds that if I open my mouth and my mind that I will offend someone?  The problem is that I believe the odds to be high.  Worse, I believe that we live in a "zero mistakes" environment.  My chances of growing are limited by the fact that I don't feel I can ask questions and explore issues without possibly offending someone.

The political correctness I have read about on US College Campuses only reinforces my concern about this.  My experience in the early 1970s with US Department of Defense Social Actions courses on race also were unhelpful in terms of helping me feel that this was an open discussion, rather than an indoctrination.

And, what can I do to help others understand that I am working to be open to people of different races, ethnic groups, religions and so on?

I, for one, am glad that Attorney General Eric Holder said what he said.  He continued:
And yet, if we are to make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us.  But we must do more- and we in this room bear a special responsibility.  Through its work and through its example this Department of Justice, as long as I am here, must - and will - lead the nation to the "new birth of freedom" so long ago promised by our greatest President. This is our duty and our solemn obligation.
Further on, he says:
We know, by "American instinct" and by learned behavior, that certain subjects are off limits and that to explore them risks, at best embarrassment, and, at worst, the questioning of one’s character
I do believe the Justice Department is one place where we can start to overcome this problem.  As Attorney General Holder "revitalizes the Civil Rights Division" I hope that part of this revitalization is an effort to encourage more dialogue and a willingness to accept that under the First Amendment everyone has the right to be either stupid or a jerk as they work their way toward enlightenment.

Regards  --  Cliff

1 comment:

ncrossland said...

Two comments, one should not have to "work hard" toward acceptance of others different in race, creed, culture, or sex. One either does, or doesn't. End of debate.

Second, by ending your commentary in the manner written, you are providing an excellent example of why racial, sexual, or cultural harmony is not going to be readily or soon achieved. By expressing one's feelings, if the response is that one is a jerk, that tends to be quite polarizing, not to mention chilling w/r to any futher dialogue. AND, that is precisely the error made by Holder. One does not curry cooperation and understanding by kicking others in places that hurt extensively.