As shameful as the firing of Shirley Sherrod based on false allegations was, it is also shameful how quick folks are to blame the Obama administration. Black folks who play in the white arena have always had to bend over backwards to combat accusations of reverse racism. The NAACP and the Obama administration acted quickly to refute any support of what appeared to be blatantly discriminatory statements by a federal employee; if it had turned out to be an accurate assessment and the NAACP and the administration had not swiftly condemned what much of white America is quick to call "reverse racism," then the condemnation of Obama and the NAACP would have been loudly proclaimed. Like it or not, it boils down to race. Being black in this society is a constant balancing act.
The Obama administration and the NAACP have publicly apologized to Ms. Sherrod. The Agricultural Department has offered Sherrod a new job. However, Andrew Breitbart, the imitation Glenn Beck, and the poster of the heavily edited video that made it appear that Sherrod was a supporter of racial discrimination, hasn't apolgized. In his appearance on Nightline Wednesday night, Breitbart relished the tempest that he stirred up with the selective clip of Sherrod's speech, a speech that rather than promoting racism was about racial reconciliation. Sherrod used her initial reaction to a white farmer's request for assistance 24 years ago when she worked for a nonprofit that assisted farmers to make her point that race should not be the issue and that the significant divide was haves and have nots, regardless of race. The white farmer and his wife, Roger and Eloise Spooner, were among the first to speak in defense of Sherrod, crediting her efforts 24 years ago with saving their farm.
However, Andrew Breitbart is not interested in truth but sensationalism and controversey. Appearing on Good Morning America after the entire video speech had been widely released, Breitbart appeared delighted with the hornet's nest that he intentionally stirred up, particularly the discomfort that it caused the Obama administration and the NAACP. Of course, he may have cause for delight. Instead of widely condemning Breitbart and later Fox News for choosing to release the highly edited clip, the attention has been on chastising the Obama administration for reacting too quickly to the video clip.
I wish that the administration had waited and gathered more facts. I wish that Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had given Sherrod the opportunity to explain. It appears that CNN the Atlanta-Journal Constitution used good old fashioned journalism and interviewed Sherrod and the Spooners. Evidently, Breitbart knows about as much about real journalism as I do about building a space shuttle.
I don't believe that the Obama administration is above reproach in all of this. I want this administration to stop letting Beck, Breitbart, and the Tea Party play the tune and call the steps and I think that it is important that we send a clear message that we actively support soundly kicking purveyors of lies and half-truths in their yellow journalism keyboards. However, at the same time, we must stop allowing these rabid, lying, rabble rousing wingnut lunatics to perpetrate their faux news, then sit back and laugh while progressives eat their young.
The Obama administration acted rashly based on intentionally misleading information and the apology offered to Ms. Sherrod was absolutely necessary. However, progressives need to turn our attention to the real culprits, Andrew Breitbart and Fox News. Divide and conquer is an old adage but it still applies unless we refuse to be distracted by lies and distortions from the real issues.