Sometimes a paradox will yield its meaning to someone willing to invest just a little thought.
Take, for instance, the observation that a vacuum cleaner that sucks, doesn't.
Or consider the fact that it is impossible for someone to be the "most mediocre" in a given field, since that person would then excel at mediocrity.
The paradox propounded by Attorney General Eric Holder last week is hardly as benign as either of those examined above.
Speaking in commemoration of Black History Month, Mr. Holder -- the first black U.S. Attorney General, appointed to that position by the first black U.S. President -- insisted that the absence of rancorous racial debate is a symptom of deeply entrenched racial problems in American society.
No, he's not Eric Holder: Unlike the hack lawyer serving as A.G., the British actor Anton Phillips has always made an honest living.
At least, that's my take-away from the following statement:
"Though this nation has proudly thought of itself as an ethnic melting pot, in things racial we have always been and continue to be, in too many ways, essentially a nation of cowards. Though race related issues continue to occupy a significant portion of our political discussion, and though there remain many unresolved racial issues in this nation, we, average Americans, simply do not talk enough with each other about race.... [I]f we are to make progress in this area we must feel comfortable enough with one another, and tolerant enough of each other, to have frank conversations about the racial matters that continue to divide us."
For a generation, Americans have aspired to assess individuals on the basis of character and achievement rather than skin color. Now the most powerful lawyer in the world has described the effort to build a color-blind society as a reflection of some embedded national character flaw.
Taken by themselves, Holder's words were hardly the stuff of militancy. But the gratuitous insult (are we really a "nation of cowards" because we have better things to do than rummage around in search of racial resentments?) and the speaker's posture of incurable grievance leave me with a weary suspicion that the Obama administration, rather than putting Jesse Jackson-style race-hustling out of business, is prepared to escalate it by several orders of magnitude.
What Holder said may ultimately be less important than the audience to whom he said it: He was addressing a gathering of tax-supported legal predators, the kind of people whose professional prospects -- beginning with basic job security -- would brighten considerably were the United States to undergo a prolonged spasm of racial conflict.
Think of the careers that could be made in "hate crime" prosecution; the federal lawsuits that could be launched against public institutions deemed to be insufficiently (or improperly) race-conscious; the opportunities to expand the power and reach of Leviathan, if race riots were once again ignited in major cities.
And think as well of the abundant opportunities for racial arsonists to foment conflict as the economy continues its relentless descent, leaving local economies dessicated and local communities brittle with incurable frustrations. Over the next several months, a cascading wave of retail bankruptcies will leave shopping malls darkened and deserted. The proliferation of what Gerald Celente calls "Ghost Malls" will add to the expanding blight of empty neighborhoods, creating a suitable backdrop for apocalyptic urban conflicts.
Symbol of our times: Time magazine's award-winning photo of a Sheriff, his gun drawn, inspecting a foreclosed home.
Wherever a spark of racial conflict is struck, we can expect to find the Feds -- as well as their allies and deniable assets -- spreading accelerant.
If the resulting conflagration is big enough, our rulers -- helpful people that they are -- will be more than willing to extinguish it, albeit by sucking the oxygen of individual liberty out of our society completely.
It would obviously be to the advantage of our rulers for Americans to think of ourselves as members of ethic collectives that they define for their purposes. The most obvious of those purposes would be simply to keep us divided and inconsolably hostile toward each other. This process, as Holder probably understands, begins with supplying a racial subtext for discussion of practically every public issue of consequence.
As the economic decline accelerates, the temptation to racialize our grievances will become more seductive to an ever-greater number of people. The good news, ironically, is that the unfolding economic crisis is breaking up the media monolith that the Regime has relied on to indoctrinate the masses.
The "news" networks are playing to an ever-smaller and increasingly decrepit audience; the weekly news magazines are either disappearing or radically altering their format; newspaper chains are withering, link by link. The conventional media will probably become more localized, the "alternate" media more influential.
At some point, the Obama Regime may actually propose the nationalization of the news industry, which would actually make the samizdat media that much more effective and credible. (In the old Soviet Union, the common wisdom was that there was no "truth" in Pravda, and no reliable "news" in Izvestia.)
Hopefully, through the proliferation of independent media and because of the transparent cynicism of the Obama Regime in promoting ethnic antagonisms (at present, they're merely warming up), it will be possible to immunize a healthy segment of the population against the effort to foment a full-blown race war.
We're not there yet, but stick around: A citizen of Zimbabwe displays a 100 million dollar note.
One useful preventative treatment would be to encourage Americans of all backgrounds to ask themselves why they should continue to be plundered on behalf of a socialist plutocracy. Another would be to emphasize shared concerns over the ever-growing menace of the State's armed enforcers -- a problem that certainly transcends arbitrary and increasingly useless ethnic divisions.
Roughly a decade ago, Jesse Lee Peterson, founder of the black advocacy group BOND (Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny), commented to me that the white American population was just beginning to experience many of the social pathologies cultivated by the welfare state that had long afflicted black Americans. Those afflictions include multi-generational illegitimacy, multi-generational dependency, and the effective disappearance of fathers in the home and stable households.
In a similar fashion, the increasing militarization of law enforcement and the ever-growing trend of unpunished abusive police behavior have introduced Americans of all backgrounds to conditions long familiar to some black inner-city Americans. This provides another tragic but useful source of shared concerns.
The unalloyed truth is that our rulers intend to make helots out of all of us, irrespective of race, creed, or color, and to that end they are eager to exploit the potential for conflict created by those divisions.
Perhaps the best we can hope for would be that the Regime will press too hard, too soon, causing the "union" to disintegrate with relatively little violence. Since there is, quite literally, not enough wealth in the entire world to service the Regime's financial obligations, the bleak reality is that the entity calling itself the United States of America simply cannot survive in its current form.
Liberty would fare much better if the American soyuz were to disintegrate into several smaller polities, instead of remaining monolithic up until its terminal implosion. If the Obamunists employ the same heavy-handedness in race agitation that they've displayed in wealth redistribution, the crack-up may come much sooner -- and be much uglier -- than any of us expect.
Dum spiro, pugno!