More Shirley Sherrod

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.

32 thoughts on “More Shirley Sherrod

  1. What no one is talking about is this: this was a NAACP event and the crowd seemed happy she did this and cheering was heard before she finished her story. They had no idea that the story was about not being racists, they ate it up and NO ONE is talking about this. So she may not be a racist, but were those in the NAACP crowd that are and personally I think that speaks louder then anything else.

    Several things occurred these past few weeks and both demonstrate the viciousness that comes from the idea of “racism” from both sides. Without any real shred of evidence; no images, no video, no recordings except for a couple of “signs” and word of mouth the NAACP suddenly passed a resolution proclaming the Tea Party as racist. And everyone on the Left, including the left leaning news media essentially stated, “Right On!”. On the other side, an “edited” video of an NAACP chapter meeting with Ms. Sherrod portraying her as racists also a lie. And, then the finger pointing begins; it’s everyone else’s fault.

    1. What no one is talking about is this: this was a NAACP event and the crowd seemed happy she did this and cheering was heard before she finished her story.

      I think the people in the audience who made the sounds were reacting about the general idea that the “uppity” white guy had some nerve showing up and seeking help. I don’t think it had to do with racism; it was part of the context of the story.

      I’m sorry, but it’s kind of a stretch to change the issue to be one about whatever the audience was thinking, off from the fact that Ms. Sherrod was done wrong—which now apparently everyone acknowledges. (Not before, but now.)

      Some members of the Tea Party are motivated by an antipathy of where they think government spending goes. That’s the race element there. I think the NAACP disagreed with the general idea that the Tea Party are racists.

      I don’t think it’s a Left versus Right thing as much as the independent middle both dislikes what happened to Ms. Sherrod, and gets nervous about whatever the true agenda of the Tea Party is.

  2. —I think the people in the audience who made the sounds were reacting about the general idea that the “uppity” white guy had some nerve showing up and seeking help.—

    Right. She says an uppity white guy, the audience laughs and it’s explained away. Of course if these had been Tea party members laughing about an “uppity” black guy under the same story line we’d never hear the end of it.

    Why aren’t there any black tea party members?
    I don’t know. Maybe there is a small element of support but knowing how they’ll be label as Uncle Tom they choose to keep quiet. What’s the quota of blacks needed to “prove” the Tea party isn’t racist anyway?

    1. Ken,

      I can’t imagine the number of skits done along the years that sterotyped black people in a negative way. I think Ronald Reagan used to do this as part of his political act (i.e. after his B-rate movie act). Except that there is so much “code language” for black people, that you don’t have to hear the words uppity black guy.

      I don’t think a black Tea Party member would be labelled an Uncle Tom. There are plenty of black people, I am sure, who also feel they are “taxed enough already”.

  3. Also the lesson we all should learn is to stop using race to bludgeon your opponents and call out racism/bigotry be it from a white rep. or all the way across to the likes of Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton. A little bit of the NAACP calling out black racism and race-baiting would go a long ways towards improving it’s creditability in conservative white America.

    1. The lesson we should all learn is not to try and defame somebody by taking selected quotes out of context. I’m sure we’ve all had this done to ourselves at one point or another in life. (I know I have.)

      Also, if one means to report something, as purportedly Andrew Breitbart does, that you try to verify what you claim to be facts.

  4. More on FOX news: It appears Ms. Sherrod was already forced to resign BEFORE Fox aired the first comment about this story. Don’t forget the NAACP had the tape in its ENTIRETY and STILL pushed for her dismissal. It seems when Mr. Beck mentioned the story the day after her forced resignation, he defended her saying that her words were taken out of context and that there was nothing wrong with her comments when put into context. If anyone has facts to the contrary, I’d like you to post them.

    In any case the Obama administration is the biggest culprit. This is not just a matter of missing the context of Sherrod’s remarks or the edited clip but the cowardliness shown by the White House which cannot be overstated. U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced Sherrod’s resignation in a statement, saying the department has “zero tolerance” for discrimination and called her three times to eventually demand her resignation on behalf of the White House. Over bullshit so obvious that it completely fell apart in less than 24 hours.
    I expect this sort of behavior from fringe elements on the left/right but you’d think the Obama Admin. would have learned to check all the facts after Professor/Police officer flare-up. This was disgraceful.

    1. I am not picking on FOX News per se, but on the culture of the FOX network—which does seem to be behind this latest troubling event.

      The White House had gotten word that Ms. Sherrod’s story was going “to be on Beck” either that night or later in the afternoon. (I don’t follow Glenn Beck at all, so I don’t know.) This prompted the resignation demand.

      News Corp. (the owner of FOX) does fine with things like the Wall Street Journal, so it’s hard to see why they let the cable channel be an echo for smears and distortions the way it does, which laps up into the FOX News organization.

      And no, Obama is not “the biggest culprit”. The President wasn’t even aware of this until someone told him what Vilsack did. The trouble with “check all the facts” is that it takes time, and in the ever-shortening news cycle, it becomes very difficult.

      The disgrace solely lies with Andrew Breitbart. He is known for this kind of thing, and any credible news organization should approach his “material” with heightened scrutiny.

  5. —I don’t think a black Tea Party member would be labeled an Uncle Tom. ”—

    I doubt even you believe that. Of course they would be called out. Just like they run the risk of being vilified for showing support of a Rep. candidate.

    —And no, Obama is not “the biggest culprit”. The President wasn’t even aware of this until someone told him what Vilsack did.——

    There`s no way Vilsack would have sacked this woman without direct approval from the WH. I`ve little doubt Obama was made aware of the firing before it occured.

    —The disgrace solely lies with Andrew Breitbart. He is known for this kind of thing, and any credible news organization should approach his “material” with heightened scrutiny.—

    This is about the firing not dirty politics. The NAACP had the complete tape end of story. But it was the WH that tossed the woman under the bus without checking the fact.

    1. The numbers of African Americans who support the contemporary Republican Party is so small, I doubt the majority of the community wastes its time saying “Uncle Tom”. That went out of fashion some years ago.

      I think the lower echelons of the administration made the decision based off the rumor that the tape was going to be cable news.

      This is about dirty politics, solely. The Republicans should limit themselves to coming up with acceptable policy alternatives.

  6. …This woman was thrown to the wolves without even the courtesy of a conversation. Her side of the story? The truth? The administration wasn’t interested.

    And the blame for that falls squarely on the people at the very top in the White House…

    1. If you read the whole Bob Herbert piece in context, you see he is saying exactly what I have said.

      The administration acknowledged that they made a mistake.

      It’s still Andrew Breitbart’s fault.

    1. The “spin”, as you say, would be that Brietbart edited a film click to create a slander. The fault lies with the person who started it.

  7. —This is about dirty politics, solely. The Republicans should limit themselves to coming up with acceptable policy alternatives.—

    Oh please. Dirty politics is played by both parties.

  8. —I think the lower echelons of the administration made the decision based off the rumor that the tape was going to be cable news—

    Again to think the decision to sack this woman was made without Obama`s knowledge is rather disingenuous. Just about anything to do with race can be explosive and both parties are well aware.

    1. I don’t think Obama knew until after it was done. Gotta remember: this guy’s got a ton of things doing on, and he mostly receives reports that filter out all but the major items. He isn’t scheduling the White House tennis courts.

  9. —I don’t think Obama knew until after it was done. Gotta remember: this guy’s got a ton of things doing on, and he mostly receives reports that filter out all but the major items. He isn’t scheduling the White House tennis courts.—

    There is NO way this would have gone down without his knowledge. Race is no doubt a VERY sensitive issue esp. after the Professor/Cop debacle. Nobody in the WH wanted this getting out of hand. He knew.

    —The “spin”, as you say, would be that Brietbart edited a film click to create a slander. The fault lies with the person who started it.—

    Sorry, but again this isn`t about who edited the tape and/or dirty politics. It`s about who is responsible for the firing.

    And that my friend rest solely on the WH.

    1. It’s speculation. The people who want to pin an Andrew Breitbart wrong on Barack Obama focus on “what did Obama know, and when did he know it, about the firing?” (Remember Watergate, if you are old enough.)

      The people who really look at this thing pin all the blame on Andrew Breitbart, and question whether FOX is or is not encouraging an environment where manufactured controversy is given the air of actual news.

  10. —The people who really look at this thing pin all the blame on Andrew Breitbart…—

    Come on. That’s simply not true and you know it.

  11. –It’s speculation.–

    Yes, but fact i[s]: This was about race. An EXTREMELY sensitive/important issue. I find it very hard to believe the firing would have been made without his knowledge

    —The “spin”, as you say, would be that Brietbart edited a film click to create a slander. The fault lies with the person who started it.—

    I’m not going to argue the point. However, the irony for the Dems is the abrupt WH sacking has pretty well over-shadowed Breitbart and pushed the Financial Reform off the front page.

    1. No, this wasn’t about race. It was about a video clip doctored to make it look to be about race.

      You don’t want to argue the point that Breitbart is ultimately at fault, but then you want to keep casting aspersions on Obama and the White House. The firing was a mistake that the White House acknowledged and corrected. End of story.

  12. No it’s not. If the Obama admin hadn’t rushed to judgment, this wouldn’t even be a story.

    It became a HUGE story because she was fired.

    —You don’t want to argue the point that Breitbart is ultimately at fault—

    Of course Breitbart is to ultimately at fault for starting the uproar. However, he certainly isn’t to blame for the firing fo the woman. Nor is FOX news.

    The Obama White House took a relatively minor story and turned into into a front page story by demanding the woman resign without first fully understanding the details – which adds the most important aspect —the Obama White House in full knee jerk reactionary mode and very poor judgement.

    Make no mistake, the Democrat power structure is shaking their collective heads wondering how in the hell the Obama White House could make such a stupid mistake regarding race yet again.

  13. —Apparently first through foxnews.com. (Contrary to what you’re saying that this all happened even before FOX had a handle on it.)—

    Fox news did not report anything on air about Sherrod resigning until after the fact.

    FoxNation had it online at 2 pm which is a fan driven BLOG site.

  14. Also in her CNN interview, Sherrod said she received “at least THREE calls telling me the WHITE HOUSE wanted me to resign… and the last one asked me to pull over to the side of the road and do it.

    Obama knew.

    1. No, this shows that Obama definitely did not know. They would have said “the President wants you to resign”, not “the White House wants you to resign.” People say “White House” when the matter is not backed by an significant executive authority.

  15. Salon refers to this:

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2010/07/19/clip-shows-usda-official-admitting-withheld-help-white-farmer/

    However it would appear the Fox News website was practicing due diligence in explaining that the clip was an excerpt of a speech and noted the attempted redemptive quality toward the end of the speech.

    From webpage:

    The point of the story wasn’t entirely clear; only an excerpt of the speech is included in the video clip.

    “It was revealed to me that it’s about poor versus those who have,” she said, suggesting she had learned that race is less important.

  16. —No, this shows that Obama definitely did not know. They would have said “the President wants you to resign”, not “the White House wants you to resign.” People say “White House” when the matter is not backed by an significant executive authority.—

    I’m sure the smart money would be on Obama knowing and approving of the firing before it too place.

    However, you’re right it’s speculation and we will have to wait until someone with insider knowledge writes a book. But if Obama’s popularity continues to wane and he ends up a one-term president you can bet there will be plenty of books about this one-time political superstar’s failed administration.

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