Following up on our previous coverage, the Justice Department’s reports on local government in Ferguson, Missouri, were, in many instances, heartbreaking. The documented evidence was hard to ignore – we were confronted with a picture of systemic, institutional racism on the part of members of the local police and municipal court officials.
There are a variety of ways to respond to the revelations, though Andrew Kaczynski yesterday highlighted one of the more discouraging reactions I’ve seen.
The lieutenant governor of Missouri says “there is more racism in the Justice Department” than in the St. Louis area, pointing the finger at President Obama and the Justice Department who, he says, often incited “the mob” in the wake of the shooting of Michael Brown back in August of 2014.
The comments came by way of Missouri Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder, who told NewsMaxTV’s Steve Malzberg that the Justice Department is “staffed with radical, hard-left radical, leftists lawyers.”
After condemning Attorney General Eric Holder as being “unlike any previous attorney general,” Kinder added that “many” DOJ officials “have spent most of their careers defending Black Panthers and other violent radicals.”
Kinder also argued that Obama and Holder were directly responsible for “inciting” a mob and “encouraging disorder in Ferguson and disrupting the peaceable going-about of our lives in the greater St. Louis region.” The lieutenant governor went on to argue that there’s “more racism in the Justice Department than there is any, uh, yes, anywhere that I see in the St. Louis area.”
According to the BuzzFeed piece, Kinder argued, “It is the left. It is the Eric Holder and Obama-left and their minions who are obsessed with race. The rest of us are moving on beyond it.”
There’s nothing to suggest the Republican official was kidding.
It’s not unusual in some conservative circles to run into “the real racists” meme. There are others who can speak to this in greater detail, and with far more authority, than I can, but the gist of the phenomenon is the right arguing that those who focus their energies on combating racism tend to be “the real racists.” Why? Because, the argument goes, it’s those who confront and address racism who are responsible for stoking the flames of division.
Or as Kinder put it, the problem is the nation’s first African-American president, the nation’s first African-American attorney general, and their “minions” who are “obsessed with race.”
This isn’t new. Jamelle Bouie noted last year that in 1866, when President Andrew Johnson vetoed a civil rights bill, Johnson argued that the real racists are those who take race into consideration. A century-and-a-half later, the rhetoric hasn’t changed much.
It’s an unfortunate and misguided argument, which obviously hasn’t gone away, and which does not improve with age.