Is Eric Holder using race? From his own perspective, probably not. It isn’t hard to believe that African Americans have suffered more indignities on average than European Americans. So the growth of unaccountable police power would fall on them disproportionately. So he may sincerely believe what he is saying. But it is also easy to believe that such suffering leads to false conclusions.
I think of this as I read a Fox News report: “Holder says he understands mistrust of police as Ferguson protests dwindle.”
“I understand that mistrust,” Holder said. “I am the attorney general of the United States. But I am also a black man.” The attorney general then described how he was stopped twice on the New Jersey Turnpike and accused of speeding. Police searched his car, going through the trunk and looking under the seats.
“I remember how humiliating that was and how angry I was and the impact it had on me,” Holder said.
Holder also described how once, while living in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, he was running to catch a movie with his cousin when a squad car rolled up and flashed its lights at the pair. The officer yelled, “Where are you going? Hold it!” Holder recalled.
His cousin “started mouthing off,” and Holder urged him to be quiet.
“We negotiate the whole thing, and we walk to our movie. At the time that he stopped me, I was a federal prosecutor. I wasn’t a kid,” he said.
I have a hard time envisioning the second incident happening to white adults, but it doesn’t seem impossible. The first story about the car stops could happen to anyone. If Holder was driving a nice car, that might prove a racial aspect to this, and I’m sure there could be a racial aspect to the stop and how Holder was treated after the stop, even if there is no proof of it. But he real lesson is that abusive authority in general probably affects minorities more than majorities.
But remember, we are entering the era where there are no minorities because there will be no majority. Will that stop the problem of no knock raids to the wrong address?
Giving that kind of arbitrary power (with massive weaponry) to an elite group of unionized public employees will produce problems regardless of race (even when many of those people are of upstanding character). And it is a problem that race politics is hiding. This is not to deny that minorities suffer from the police disproportionately. It is simply to acknowledge that the problem is not going to be solved by only addressing race.
Of course, while there is no love lost between Eric Holder and myself, he may simply be trying to offer some kind of consolation to the Ferguson residents in preparation for the “bad news” that the police officer did not commit a homicide in this case. It is possible he is trying to say what he can now in order to win more good will and prevent riots in the future.
But viewing the police problem as a race problem is going to leave everyone, including African Americans and other minorities, worse off.