Ferguson and Eric Holder's Violent Past

Attorney General Eric Holder has at least one redeeming quality: he fights for what he believes in, and he doesn’t hesitate to express sentiments he knows many people will disagree with vociferously.

As long as it’s done within the bounds of the law, that sort of thing should be considered a virtue no matter what one’s political orientation is.

It must also be added that those who think Holder is pushing socialist views on race only because he now has the power to do so are wrong; he’s been doing so since his university days at Columbia.

And there’s the rub: it’s by no means clear that Holder has always articulated his views in ways that are lawful.

In fact, consider this language from a March, 2012 Daily Caller piece:

As a freshman at Columbia University in 1970, future Attorney General Eric Holder participated in a five-day occupation of an abandoned Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) headquarters with a group of black students later described by the university’s Black Students’ Organization as “armed,” The Daily Caller has learned.

Department of Justice spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler has not responded to questions from The Daily Caller about whether Holder himself was armed — and if so, with what sort of weapon.

So, there is evidence that Holder participated in an armed occupation while at Columbia, and neither he nor anyone else has ever denied that he himself was armed. 

Very arguably, this amounted to an act of domestic terrorism by someone who should have known better, and who is now the nation’s chief law enforcement official.

Holder is now in Ferguson, Missouri assuring its residents that “change is coming”, and that, apparently, black/white arrest rates must be equalized even if differences are not the intentional result of any policy.  This would seem to contemplate the unprecedented, quasi-legislative, and tyrannical application of affirmative action to the application of criminal law, which in many respects is the realm of law closest to liberty.

Does Holder have in mind ordering and/or cajoling police departments into gratuitously arresting more whites and fewer blacks?

Quite possibly, he does.

Regardless, a few things about Holder’s Ferguson promises, and other statements Holder has made about race, are very ironic in view of his past at Columbia -- and not just because we have someone who may well have perpetrated a racially-motivated terrorist act talking about what the requirements of justice in connection with race are.

Holder tells the New York Times that “as a college student, I was pulled over twice on the New Jersey Turnpike and my car was searched, even though I was sure I hadn’t been speeding.” He thinks that the stop was attributable to racial profiling.  It’s conceivable that it was, but notice that Holder does not say exactly what agency or agencies stopped him, and notice also that the stops occurred when he was a freshman -- the same year he engaged in the armed protest. 

Were the events only coincidentally related?  Maybe.  But if Holder is going to brandish the experiences for political reasons in connection with an event as incendiary as Ferguson, he owes us greater detail and context.

Holder likes to talk about how America is a “nation of cowards” on racial matters; in fact, after having first made that statement in 2009, he’s very recently doubled down on it.

If Holder is supposed to be the courageous one and is going to generate policy on the basis of the Ferguson situations when the facts, so far, appear to indicate that initial media reports of Michael Brown’s utter innocence were at best misleading, perhaps he is morally obligated to explain a few things to Americans.

What exactly were his actions during the 1970 Columbia related armed occupation, and was he himself armed?  If so, why does he think he is justified in seeking to curtail the rights of law abiding gun-owners, even to the extent of being willing, literally, to brainwash them if necessary?

Until Holder explains his racially motivated Columbia actions, it is difficult to see why Americans should view what he has to say on racial matters with any degree of seriousness—other than that he is intimidating us into doing so.

Might Holder now simply be substituting the power of the office of the United States Attorney General for that of a firearm he may well have unlawfully wielded at Columbia?

In any event, if Holder, even though he is the Attorney General of the United States, is too cowardly to forthrightly own up to his own past, he should stop imputing cowardice to others.

Dr. Jason Kissner is associate professor of criminology at California State University, Fresno.  You can reach him at crimprof2010@hotmail.com.