Lecturing a conscript conclave of Justice Department bureaucrats, Attorney General Eric Holder last week called America a "nation of cowards" for not spending more time talking about race.
Reading his speech, however, one recalls the sage counsel of Pat Moynihan to President Nixon in 1970: This whole subject might benefit from a long period of "benign neglect."
One point Holder did allude to, without specifics, was this:
"It is not safe for this nation to assume that the unaddressed social problems in the poorest parts of the country can be isolated and will not ultimately affect the larger society."
Fair point. And what are some of those social problems?
A 70 percent illegitimacy rate in black America, an incarceration and crime rate seven times that of white America, a 50 percent dropout rate in many urban high schools, African-American graduates reading and computing on average at eighth-grade levels.
And about these problems what is the black leadership doing?
Unlike Bill Cosby, the heroic Holder was virtually mute. Rather, he is upset that "on Saturdays and Sundays" we don't go to church or hang out together. But why are the free associations of Americans, of whatever creed or color, any of Eric Holder or Big Brother's business?
Having insulted us, perhaps Holder will start doing his own sworn duty. For one area where he has a lead role is enforcing the nation's laws -- in particular, the U.S. immigration laws. For the federal failure to enforce these laws is a contributory cause of one of those "unaddressed social problems in the poorest parts of the country."
Case in point -- rampant unemployment among minority youth.
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, among African-Americans 18 to 29 with only a high-school degree, unemployment is now 20 percent. Among black adults who do not have a high-school diploma, it is 24 percent. Among teenagers under 18, black unemployment is 30 percent.
Among native-born Hispanics with only a high-school diploma, the unemployment rate is 13.6 percent. Among high-school dropouts, 16 percent. Among Hispanic 16- and 17-year-olds, the jobless figure is 40 percent.
As these figures were compiled in December, before the last two months of sweeping layoffs, they surely understate the situation. And with both black and Hispanic dropout rates now reaching 50 percent in major cities, the social dynamite is piling up.
Last month, USA Today reported that the FBI estimates there are now 1 million gang members in the United States -- up 200,000 from 2005 -- and these gangs are responsible for 80 percent of all U.S. crimes.
From other studies, young Hispanics are 19 times as likely as white youth to join gangs, while African-Americans are 15 times.
These millions of teenagers, and unskilled and less-educated young adults with no jobs and little prospect of finding them, are recruiting pools for criminal gangs.
Who is getting the jobs for which these native-born black and Hispanic young could quality? Illegal aliens hold literally millions of them.
Last week, the CIS reported, "An estimated 6 to 7 million illegal immigrants are currently holding jobs. Prior research indicates they are overwhelmingly employed in lower-skilled and lower-paid jobs."
Exactly what sort of jobs?
"Illegals are primarily employed in construction, building cleaning and maintenance, food preparation, service and processing, transportation and moving occupations and agriculture."
With the exception of agriculture, a majority of the workers in these occupations are native-born Americans. Thus, illegal aliens are taking jobs Americans are not only willing to do, but are doing, and taking 7 million of these jobs from young Americans now out of work.
By failing to enforce U.S. immigration laws, the government of the United States is selling America's working class down the river.
In addition to the 7 million illegals holding jobs, legal immigrants have another 15 million. In 2008, when Americans lost 3.5 million jobs, 144,000 immigrants were admitted every month.
Why do we have an open-borders immigration policy that annually allows in millions, legal and illegal, to compete for jobs, when 10 million Americans are out of work and half a million are losing their jobs every month? The political correctness and moral cowardice of our Lords Temporal, who refuse to call a time-out on immigration until our own people go back to work, is killing the American dream for millions.
According to the census, as reported in The New York Times on Saturday, 97 percent of immigrants from Mexico do not speak English at home. They are less skilled and less educated than the average American.
Says demographer William Frey, "The new immigration magnets especially in the Southwest are disproportionately attracting young Mexican men who are willing to accept low wages."
What further proof is needed that mass immigration from the Third World is taking jobs from Americans and driving down their wages when they do find work?
Here is a problem more serious than whether black and white elites are getting together on weekends to gabble about race.
But, dealing with it, Mr. Holder, will take courage.