The news headlines are saying that USDA official Shirley Sherrod is getting a job back. Maybe not her original job, but one, courtesy of the Obama Administration. And that’s a good thing.
As I was saying yesterday, it’s a real shame that someone like Breitbart was allowed to take an edited video that twisted words out of context and make a national issue out of it. Potentially, ruining the career of a dedicated federal worker.
One thing I will say, is that I am not “PC”, as that term is understood from about two decades ago—the early 1990’s. Those were some of the worst times of my life, as I liived in politically correct environments around the University of Pennsylvania and Temple University. I really came to dislike the whole PC philosophy and those who exploited it for their personal and professional gain—like early Robert Reinstein as dean of Temple Law.
So, for a number of years, I would buy the knee-jerk reaction to any racial issues that were going on in America. I think many of my fellow Americans looked at it that way, too. And so things like the 1994 Republican win of Congress were the manifestation. PC probably hit its high water mark as an odious influence on our culture when the Federal Building was blown up by Tim McVeigh in Oklahoma. It maybe got the final nail in the 9/11 attacks. The first event showed the evil but logical progression of pitting one ethnic or racial group against the other for some gain. The second one made us all realize that we are “one America”. There was an Ad Council commercial out around that time that emphasized that.
So my views are “post PC”. Even though I feel I was a bit burned in the politically correct era, denied opportunities and had life made harder than it had to be, I still and always keep an open mind about these race, religion and ethnic issues.
I feel the contemporary Republicans count on people NOT keeping an open mind, and that’s why they tolerate their agents concocting things like the Breitbart video, and the controversy around the Skip Gates arrest last year.
In the end, as Americans, we need more discussion about race and about history—not less. Some people parrot this phrase about “the race card”, and I honestly don’t know what they’re getting at. I think it’s impossible for America to have a polity without having honest discussions about race and all the sundry effects that dividing by race and class does to us as a nation.
Ross Douthat had an excellent essay in the New York Times a few days back about how non-elite whites have been put at a disadvantage by the divisive policies of Ivy League (and like) schools. As examples, Shirley Sherrod’s experiences and all these things should be discussed openly in our society, without fear of recriminations.