At Untethered, Dennis explains a key point of Attorney General Eric Holder's "nation of cowards" speech:
What is more interesting is the unintentional but more revealing subtext, inaccessible to the author, incapacitated as he is by status, position and, appropriately enough, chauvinism. Holder's speech revealed the potential conflicts facing a civil rights movement-turned-industry by Barack Obama's stunning, rapid rise.
Those who most fear the reality of a "transformation" to a "post-racial" America are those who've most benefited from the decidedly racial nature of recent American politics--again, embarrassingly demonstrated with Obama's success. The end game of affirmative action and discrimination-through-litigation is revealed as long overdue. The intent of the "conversation" about race, now more than ever, is to delegitimize that challenge by declaring it unfit for conversation.
If we should start taking seriously the "post-racial" nature of Obama's rise, we might start asking that it mean something beyond assigning a professional and political premium to certain individuals based on Obama's myth of "race and inheritance." But the obvious advantage that race played for the inauthentic son of slavery and segregation contradicts the myth. The notion of a white American jackboot forever on the neck of our culturally most powerful--black Americans--was questionable before Obama's remarkable campaign and the ecstatic reception of his inauguration. Now it is farcical.
But it isn't only that Barack Obama renders the white/black reparations dynamic absurd. The nascent Diversity State finds itself too soon and too totally triumphant. The bogey of white oppression threatens to become no longer plausible, and those groups assigned varying stature within the hierarchy of grievance are already eyeing one another uneasily.
The order now threatened by diversity is not pre- but post-civil rights. That minority became synonymous with oppressed, and "underrepresented" synonymous with denied, once only enhanced the power of the dominant minority, which extracted concessions from a still comfortable majority (that could still afford them and held an expectation of final conciliation). Smaller minority groups were content to follow the leader and accept a subordinate position. But what happens to that dynamic in a "post-racial" ("post-white") America where the majority of individuals have a birthright claim against the white plurality and no sense of obligation toward a black population that is culturally dominant, politically favored and stubbornly lagging in professional and scholastic achievement?
It was therefore Holder's purpose to preclude any challenges to black America's position atop the hierarchy of grievance. Black equality is more than simple equality. Holder is here to defend the primacy of his faction as the vanguard of a revolution now triumphant:In addition, the other major social movements of the latter half of the 20th century -- feminism, the nation's treatment of other minority groups, even the antiwar effort -- were all tied in some way to the spirit that was set free by the quest for African American equality. Those other movements may have occurred in the absence of the civil rights struggle, but the fight for black equality came first and helped to shape the way in which other groups of people came to think of themselves and to raise their desire for equal treatment. Further, many of the tactics that were used by these other groups were developed in the civil rights movement.
By more false accommodation he allows that feminism, anti-war protests and other minority rights movements "may" have happened without the black civil rights movement--insinuating that they probably would have not. When Holder goes on to assert that black history is too little studied, and that "African American history is American history", he declares that black history is more than American history, and greater than any other group's American history.