Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shirley Sherrod and the Myth of Reverse Racism

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.


Sybil said...

It was lies and distortions and inuendo that led to the defeat of our previous Government. And see where that is landing us !! I pray that the people of America have more sense (but doubt it !!)
Love Sybil x

Beth said...

I've got other friends saying that Breitbart has lost all credibility. I only hope that is true, and we all need to band together to expose him for the demagogue he is.

Ima June Pullet said...

You're absolutely right, Sheria. Breitbart doesn't care about the truth, just about creating chaos wherever he can. Now, I've read that some are claiming the Spooners are "plants." Breitbart and his ilk will stop at nothing and will never be satisfied. The WH needs to stop listening to them, but as Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution said last night, Obama is the only president who, because of his race, has had to face these claims and the Right will just keep hammering him on it, I'm afraid.

Anonymous said...

I believe that most of the time the Obama Admin tries to fulfill its obligation(s) to serve their fellow man as best they can. Everyone screws up once in a while & an apology was tendered. ~Mary

Nance said...

A few months ago, I read a dated book entitled HOW TO RIG AN ELECTION; CONFESSIONS OF A REPUBLICAN OPERATIVE by Andrew Raymond. It put an end to the last little jot of naivety I may have harbored about the lengths Republicans will go to in their end-justifies-means power grab. What he confessed to was mild compared to what's happening today; the Sherrod case is a chilling example.

I'm sick of the progressives who are burying this president on the basis of his apology to Sherrod. Do they really think that, by divorcing this administration in the name of progressive purity, they increase the chances that a candidate of their choice will be given a shot in 2012? Washing their hands of Obama now will not further their cause one iota.

Breitbart, Beck, Limbaugh, Murdoch; never doubt that there is evil afoot in the land.

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

The key here is to figure out how to get a true grass roots uprising about the half truths of the conservative right. We need to start letting our voices be heard. There are many middle class americans, such as us, that are sick of the lies and innuendo that are distorting our true values. Perhaps a Facebook Page, tastefully done, that seeks to educate and have rationale discussions.