Former Attorney General Eric Holder may have retired from government work, but he is still taking an active interest in national issues. According to The Huffington Post, Holder said the recent South Carolina church massacre, allegedly carried out by white supremacist Dylann Roof, should serve as a “wake-up call.” Holder stated the shooting was clearly an act of terrorism.
“Holder said that based on what we know about 21-year-old Dylann Roof, who allegedly confessed to shooting and killing the members during a Bible study at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church on June 17, the incident should be considered terrorism,” reported the Huffington Post
Roof is facing nine counts of murder and a grand jury recently added three attempted murder charges and a weapon charge to his indictment. He could also face federal hate crime charges. Holder said Roof’s alleged attack was similar to violent acts carried out by Islamic militants. The only difference is Islamic terrorists are motivated by religion, while Roof was motivated by racial hatred.
“With a different set of circumstances, and if you had dialed in religion there, Islam, that would be called an act of terror. It seems to me that, again on the basis of the information that has been released, that’s what we have here. An act of terror,” Holder said.
According to Holder, domestic terrorism was one of the issues he faced when he was the nation’s top law enforcement officer. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) issued a 2009 report warning of homegrown terrorism. However, the report became politicized. Republicans were angry DHS warned of attacks from far-right groups and ignored the report. Americans remained largely unaware of the threat of domestic terrorism, since most of the government and media’s attention has been on foreign terrorists.
“I think as a nation, we as a people have not focused on the domestic threat. We have thought that the threat is from without, and that the threat to the extent that it exists within the nation is only based on ideologies that come from outside of the United States,” Holder said. “It is a wake-up call for the American people to understand that the hate that has bedeviled this nation almost since its inception continues to be an active and negative force.”
Holder, who stepped aside earlier this year for Loretta Lynch, was never shy to tackle racial issues while he was attorney general. He attempted to scale back the “war on drugs,” having seen the effects of mass incarceration of Black men as a judge and U.S. attorney. And in 2009, he said America was afraid of addressing its racial past.
“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,” Holder said.
Holder, a close friend of President Barack Obama, also said many of the political attacks both he and the president faced were motivated by race.
“There’s a certain level of vehemence, it seems to me, that’s directed at me [and] directed at the president,” Holder told ABC. “There’s a certain racial component to this for some people. I don’t think this is the thing that is a main driver, but for some there’s a racial animus.”
The former attorney general had a stormy relationship with Republicans during his term. They blamed him for the Fast and Furious scandal in which federal agents tried to entrap Mexican gun runners—though the project actually started under the George W. Bush administration. Holder’s relationship with House Republicans was so stormy he became the first attorney general to be held in contempt of Congress. Republicans also threatened to impeach Holder, but the legislation never went anywhere.