In Defense of a Good Man By Dr. E. Faye Williams

Filed under COLUMNISTS

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I express my feelings directly. While maintaining civility, I have no difficulty expressing the truth as I see it. One such situation involves our current US Attorney General, Eric Holder, who, despite a long career in service to this country, has been targeted for professional destruction by conservative political elements.

For those of short memory, it is easy to ignore the experience that Mr. Holder has developed in service to the department he now heads. The achievements of his career give greater reason to question the motives of those who persecute him.

It’s easy for some to forget that after law school, Holder joined the Justice Department’s Public Integrity Section and served there from 1976 to 1988. Others might forget that during this period, the quality of his service led to his appointment as a judge of the Superior Court of DC by President Reagan. They might also forget Mr. Holder’s 1993 appointment as DC’s US Attorney by President Clinton or his elevation to Deputy AG in 1997 with unanimous Senate confirmation. He’s had bi-partisan support.

Praised by President Obama for his “toughness and independence,” in December 2008, Mr. Holder was nominated for AG of the US. Since then, his management of the DoJ has shown that no other AG in history has established a comparable record of civil rights enforcement and equal protection of citizens’ rights.

That brings us to my main point. I believe, unequivocally, that were it not for his pursuit of equity and justice for ALL citizens, Mr. Holder wouldn’t be the target of the relentless pursuit of his resignation. Although it probably irritated his detractors, Holder’s push for expanded Hate Crime laws isn’t the reason for the animus directed at him. Nor is it the legal action he took to thwart the 2010 Arizona Immigration Law which, in 2012, was mostly struck down by the Supreme Court.

The real problem: Mr. Holder is a staunch defender of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and enthusiastically opposes state laws that restrict/suppress the votes of qualified citizens. Under Holder’s tenure, the DoJ successfully sued Shelby County, AL for violating Section 5 of the VRA. In advance of the 2012 Election, Holder vigorously opposed new voter ID laws enacted in over a dozen states. He correctly assessed these laws as negatively impacting the votes of the elderly, students and minorities.

He stated, “We have to honor the generations that took extraordinary risks” to achieve the right to vote. In April, Holder vowed to continue to enforce federal voting rights laws within the scope of his power, regardless of how the US Supreme Court decides the pending appeal of Shelby County, AL. Mr. Holder’s efforts have had the effect of ensuring that the outcome of the election process more closely reflects the will of all voters.

For his efforts, Mr. Holder has been the subject of accusations of professional malfeasance. Conservatives have used every scurrilous allegation to sully his name and professional efficacy. In an unprecedented act, the Republican controlled House of Representatives voted to hold him in contempt of Congress. Without foundation, he was accused of wrongdoing in the management of a cross-border gun-tracking effort between Mexico and the US begun under the Bush Administration. Almost weekly, some new accusation is registered with the stated intent of forcing Mr. Holder’s resignation.

We have the means to stand in defense of this good man. We can maintain awareness of the efforts to do him professional harm and we can resist these destructive efforts by voicing our disapproval to those who work against him. They may not cease their efforts to undermine him, but they will be aware of the will of those they must overcome to do so with success.

(Dr. E. Faye Williams is National Chair of the National Congress of Black Women, www.nationalcongressbw.org202/678-6788)

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