The ongoing, unhealthy, and offensive preoccupation with the NBPP

THE ONGOING, UNHEALTHY, AND OFFENSIVE PREOCCUPATION WITH THE NBPP…. Attorney General Eric Holder made his first trip to Capitol Hill since the Republican takeover of the House this week, and was immediately pestered with questions about — what else? — a 2008 incident involving the New Black Panther Party.

The fact that anyone still cares about this is astounding. The underlying accusation is transparently foolish; and there’s bipartisan agreement, even from Fox News contributors, that this is a non-story. The Bush administration, which pushed politicized law enforcement to unseen depths, saw this matter as too meaningless to pursue.

And yet, there was Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) on Tuesday, accusing the Justice Department of racial bias. Worse, Culberson quoted Bartle Bull’s ridiculous testimony to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission, arguing that the inconsequential incident from 2008 was among the most serious acts of voter intimidation in decades, comparable to Jim Crow.

“Think about that,” Holder said. “When you compare what people endured in the South in the 60s to try to get the right to vote for African Americans, and to compare what people were subjected to there to what happened in Philadelphia — which was inappropriate, certainly — that … to describe it in those terms I think does a great disservice to people who put their lives on the line, who risked all, for my people,” said Holder, who is black.

Holder noted that his late sister-in-law, Vivian Malone Jones, helped integrate the University of Alabama.

“To compare that kind of courage, that kind of action, and to say that the Black Panther incident — wrong, thought it might be — somehow is greater in magnitude or is of greater concern to us, historically, I think just flies in the face of history and the facts.,” Holder said with evident exasperation.

Adam Serwer, noting the exchange, added:

[I]t’s not like you have to be black, or even liberal, to recognize how offensive the comparison is….The comparison essentially erases history. To argue that the worst instance of voter intimidation that ever happened in the segregated South is comparable to two mean looking guys standing outside of a polling place is to pretend that nothing that terrible ever happened. It’s not surprising that anyone with any living memory of what it was actually like would take offense. What’s disgusting is that the likely response to Holder’s understandable reaction to Culberson trivializing apartheid on the right will merely be further certainty that Holder and Obama are racist.

Right on cue, the Wall Street Journal‘s James Taranto, reflecting on Holder’s committee appearance, said this morning that the Attorney General ended up “confirming suspicions of racial bias at the Justice Department” during his testimony, and suggest Holder should resign.

The mind reels.