Friday, November 28, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Holder gives grads misguided advice

navarrette column sig

By
From page A11 | May 25, 2014 |

SAN DIEGO — It’s graduation time, and public officials are delivering commencement addresses at colleges and universities. That is, if they pass the litmus test. Students and faculty extol the virtues of tolerance and diversity, but often they don’t tolerate diverse points of view.

Attorney General Eric Holder recently shared his views with graduates of Morgan State University, a historically black college in Baltimore. Marking the 60th anniversary of the Brown v. Board of Education case, Holder gave a generally upbeat speech that talked about the contributions of earlier generations of African-Americans while lamenting the lack of progress in other areas.

Then he veered off course, telling his audience to beware of racial slights that are not always so apparent.

“These outbursts of bigotry, while deplorable, are not the true markers of the struggle that still must be waged, or the work that still needs to be done – because the greatest threats do not announce themselves in screaming headlines,” Holder said. “They are more subtle. They cut deeper. And their terrible impact endures long after the headlines have faded and obvious, ignorant expressions of hatred have been marginalized.”

Holder must see himself as the nation’s racial conscience. He needs to tread more lightly on this subject.

In 2009, the attorney general called the United States a “nation of cowards” who were afraid to talk about race. Of course, we talk about race all the time – in matters big and small, and often without any discernible benefit.

Just a few weeks ago, speaking to a predominantly black audience at Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, Holder referred to his treatment by House committees charged with oversight of the Justice Department. The nation’s first African-American attorney general implied that Republicans are disrespectful toward him because of his skin color. In coded language, Holder condemned what he sees as “unprecedented, unwarranted, ugly and divisive” attacks. He asked: “What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment? What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”

What a silly statement. Has Holder ever heard of Alberto Gonzales and George W. Bush? “Disrespectful” is a good word to describe how those men were treated by Washington’s liberal triad – Democrats, the media, and left-leaning advocacy organizations.

Holder later denied that his remarks had any racial subtext. This took nerve. The attorney general plays the race card, then denies he was even in the game.

Now, in his remarks at Morgan State, Holder gave the young people in the audience an easy out, an excuse for whatever they might not accomplish in life: subtle racism.

In life, most of us will experience failures, setbacks and disappointments. We’ll be denied admission to college, struggle to find a job, get laid off, lose homes, fail at business, etc.

The Morgan State graduates are fortunate. Now they have a way to rationalize the bad things that will happen to them. It’ll be the fault of “subtle” racism.

That’s not the most helpful message to impart to young people – especially on graduation day. Here’s what Holder should have told the students:

I want you to succeed. That means I want you to work hard, dream big, challenge yourself, go outside your comfort zone, and sacrifice when necessary to be the absolute best at whatever you choose to do. Follow your passion, and put in the time and effort needed to become excellent at your craft. The rest will take care of itself. When you fail – and, by the way, I hope you learn from each failure because that’s how we grow – don’t make excuses, or play the victim, or look for villains to blame. Let’s not be naive. There will be sinister forces out there. Not everyone will cheer you on, and some folks may even try to drag you down. And guess what? Some of those people will look just like you. When that happens, don’t surrender to what you think are all-powerful forces. Instead, make yourself even more powerful by working even harder and taking control of your destiny. The biggest obstacles in life are self-imposed. So don’t impose any. Good luck.

Holder had a valuable opportunity to offer guidance to the next generation. Had he given more thought to his remarks and emphasized personal responsibility, this public servant would have done a public service. Instead, he made another public spectacle.

Ruben Navarrette is a columnist for U-T San Diego. Reach him at ruben@rubennavarrette.com.

Ruben Navarrette

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 6 comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • CD BrooksMay 25, 2014 - 6:39 am

    This is precisely my point I've been trying to pound home. A Conservative message attacking an African American because that s what Republicans do. And for what because he "went off course?" He not only stayed a steady course, he told the sorry truth and the fortitude it’s going to take to become successful. The fact that here we are in the 21st century and still having to fight the prejudice. Tough to hear perhaps, but a great piece of wisdom from one who knows. This is particularly shameful coming from a wannabe columnist that should know better. Thanks for backing me up Ruben!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • KenRMay 25, 2014 - 11:36 am

    I agree with @ CD, Navarrette notes only that an African-American attorney general, who spoke of how it really is to him, must be wrong because it doesn't happen that way. That is the Republican way. Only the way repugnicans are treated matter. If you believe and experience America in any way but the way the see and experience America, then you must be wrong, telling lies, deserve to be treated differently.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • PornacMay 25, 2014 - 7:09 am

    I'm still waiting to see Ws birth certificate and a poster of him in tribal gear with nose bone.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JohnMay 25, 2014 - 7:47 am

    That's right CD, you just keep on hammering. Don't forget they also pick on women, religions, nonprofits and of course anyone who's not white. Did I leave out anyone? I wonder how generations of entitlements play into the picture for black communities. Seams like it's certainly put many in a rut on gaming the system. How can so many fathers ignore their children. Where did things get so screwed up, guess it had to be those republicans.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • CD BrooksMay 25, 2014 - 8:46 am

    John, yeah thanks you all love that "entitlements" angle. I don't want anybody to get the wrong idea. I said Republicans "pick on" anybody NOT a white heterose*ual religious male. It’s patently obvious but then you have to be just slightly objective and have the reading comprehension to recognize it. They discriminate on such a huge scale right out in the open so it's no wonder you "miss" it.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • JagMay 25, 2014 - 9:35 am

    He didn’t veer off course he went exactly where he wanted to go and he got his point out played the race card and later said I mint something else NO he mint exactly what he said, Racism has gotten worse in the past 5 years and it is just going to keep going that way,

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

Giving thanks, ‘even in this broken world,’ on Thursday

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Solano Turkey Trot draws 2,600 to college

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
 
Il Fiorello schedules olive milling day

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Early Black Friday shoppers take advantage of deals

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Eagle Scout project adds floating docks at Rockville Park

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
.

US / World

‘Guardian angel,’ community join to give man home

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
US celebrates Thanksgiving with parades, turkey

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3 | Gallery

Tons of marijuana seized in Central California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Gorilla death prompts San Francisco Zoo changes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Health agents still unpaid after plan’s rollout

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
California Burger King employee finds $100,000

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

At 1 month, US Ebola monitors finding no cases

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Families asked to host visitors for pope’s US trip

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Researchers discover ‘pre-cancers’ in blood

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
35 arrested in Oakland after protest march

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

A glance at Ferguson: Then, now and the future

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
For some, location of Brown’s hands irrelevant

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Ferguson gives thanks after a quiet night

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Colorado mastodon bones show ancient warmer Earth

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Queen of crime writing PD James dies aged 94

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Ebola aid dogged by coordination lags in Guinea

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Taliban attack rocks upscale Kabul district

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Small quake rattles California wine country

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

Harvard admissions, then and now

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: A11

 
 
What it costs to fight the Islamic State

By Walter Pincus | From Page: A11

.

Living

Today in History: Nov. 28, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: Nov. 28, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Movies just another course on Thanksgiving

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Poor health is no excuse for not behaving like a caring person

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

Horoscope for Nov. 28, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

 
.

Entertainment

Week in preview: Nov. 28 to Dec. 4, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Prison theater transforms Colombian inmates

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Singer John Mayer among ‘Late Late Show’ subs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Review: ‘Horrible Bosses 2′ doesn’t work

By Jake Coyle | From Page: B2

Review: ‘Madagascar’ spin-off hatches family fun

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Reading Harry Potter gives clues to brain activity

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Talking songs with She & Him

By Kim Durbin | From Page: B3

 
Entertainment calendar Nov. 28, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B4

 
Cosby testimony describes accuser’s spiked story

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Sports

College notebook: Many happy returns for Arizona’s Bondurant

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Sherman’s big night leads Seattle past 49ers again

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

Rookie quarterback Carr is Raiders’ silver lining

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
US cities urged to keep price tags down for 2024

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Eagles roll over Cowboys 33-10 for NFC East lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
5 investigated in FIFA WCup bid corruption probe

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Johnson shines in Detroit’s 34-17 win over Chicago

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Signups for Friday, Nov. 28, 2014

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

No. 9 UCLA must overcome Stanford for Pac-12 title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B10

 
.

Business

Kia’s ‘Soulful’ first electric car

By Ann M. Job | From Page: C1

 
Automakers aim to drive away car computer hackers

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

3 Reasons holiday shoppers will spend cautiously

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
OPEC keeps oil output on hold despite low prices

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

.

Obituaries

Deanna L. Haines

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Esther Ringler

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

‘Chipper’ Douglas Lee Anderson Jr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9