Commentary: Holder's poor word choice marred important message

This editorial appeared in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Attempting to start a dialogue by leveling an insult at the very people who need to be talking makes for a short conversation.

For good or ill, how something is said is as important as what is said. One hopes that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder will rethink the "how" the next time he wants to instruct his employees – and, indirectly, the American people – on the importance of talking about race.

The newly minted attorney general set off criticism even among some of his supporters with a Black History Month speech last Wednesday delivered to hundreds of Justice Department employees.

Actually, it was one sentence that did the damage as it’s been played and replayed on talk radio and 24/7 news shows.

"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and I believe continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards," Holder said.

Cowards. Oh, no, he didn’t.

Unfortunately for Holder, the rest of the speech has received scant attention. Too bad, because he made valid points about the progress achieved and the work that remains to "hasten the day when we truly become one America."

To read the complete editorial, visit The Fort Worth Star-Telegram.