During the most recent edition of Fox News Sunday, political analyst Brit Hume asserted that attorney general Eric Holder had become a “crybaby” and that he and president Barack Obama have “benefited enormously” from being the first African-Americans to hold the offices they now inhabit.
Then on Monday, Hume was accused of “race-baiting” by the host of MSNBC's The Ed Show. Later, he was supported by Bill O'Reilly, who exclaimed “Wow!” regarding Hume's “very provocative soundbite” and Twitter feedback that ranged from emails telling the conservative analyst he was “right on” to others who hammered him as a racist.
The heated debate started when Hume dismissed a claim by Holder that criticism of him and the Democratic occupant of the White House “was unprecedented” and called that remark “kinda crybaby stuff.”
To those two men, race has been both a shield and a sword that they have used effectively to defend themselves and attack others.
It is depressing at this stage in our national life, after all we’ve been through on this issue and given the overwhelming consensus of civil rights, that this stuff is still going on.
About 24 hours later, Ed Schultz stated: “My gosh, where do I start? I mean, this is outrageous! So the color of your skin will determine if you get disrespect or not? That's what I'm taking off Fox News on that one.”
The liberal anchor then asked Michael Eric Dyson if he thought Holder really is a crybaby.
“Absolutely not,” his guest said angrily since the Democratic official was just “responding to the way the Republicans have treated him and the president.”
He then noted sarcastically: “When I looked around that table and saw the enormous diversity of both skin, and gender, and color, and race, of course we can come up with a consensus that that was a fair panel.”
Anybody who speaks against the authoritative legitimacy or the world view of that particular set of people -- the punditiocracy -- what happens is you come in, and you're charged with playing the race card.
If they were playing the race card, they were dealing the deck that had been handed to them by centuries of tradition, of response by the other side.
Holder finally told “the truth about what he’s endured silently all along, and the very moment he speaks up, he is assailed and nailed” by his critics, Dyson concluded.
“Brit Hume, as I see it, is race-baiting,” Schultz said before MSNBC contributor Goldie Taylor jumped into the discussion and charged that both Hume and fellow panelist George Will of the Washington Post are “drunk with their own privilege.”
A few hours later, the host of Fox News Channel's The O'Reilly Factor had Hume as his guest. After playing the analyst's remarks from the day before, Bill O'Reilly shouted “Wow!” and asked what kind of feedback Hume had received since then.
“Mostly on Twitter,” Hume stated, “I got some people saying I was 'right on,' I was 'exactly right,' and I got some people saying I was a racist” because no African-Americans were present for the debate. “They were about equally dispersed.
“In other words, in order to discuss this, you have to have an African-American present,” he added. “But if you’re just white, then discussing this is racist.”
Hume lamented that “being called a racist or labeled a racist, particularly if it’s successful, is one of the worst things that can happen to you in America.”
O’Reilly agreed with Hume’s basic premise, claiming that if Obama had been white, then Democratic rival Hillary Clinton would probably have defeated him in 2008.
Similarly, Hume described Obama as an “appealing person who seemed to be non-divisive, not a race hustler in any way” and therefore Americans “were proud of him, proud to see him elected” and has received “perhaps more than he would were he a white man, the benefit of the doubt from a great many people.”
In an earlier program, O’Reilly pointed out that plenty of people in the Oval Office and in the position of attorney general have been treated far worse, also charging that Holder has been treated “gently” by the press despite his stonewalling on a variety of issues, like the Fast and Furious gun scandal.
He declared, “That’s the truth, and it has nothing to do with skin color.”
Nevertheless, the most bizarre aspect of this angry discussion is the fact that Holder later explained he was not discussing racism during his comment, but was instead promoting “civility.” Here's hoping the attorney general hires a better speech writer -- and soon.