Shirley Sherrod and the right’s new weapon

Soon, we will forget about Shirley Sherrod. But not the fallout from her smearing.

Sherrod might go back to USDA. She may give more speeches. But, while she has handled herself with aplomb, one could hardly blame her if she’s ready to step out of the Klieg lights.

As for us, we’ll promise not to rush to judgment next time, and to finally have that National Conversation about race. Maybe the president will even convene a Race Summit. Maybe, having already hosted last summer’s Beer Summit to atone for another hasty racial conclusion, he’ll seek the learning end of this Teachable Moment.

But one thing has changed.

Our politics increasingly resembles a cold civil war, and the Sherrod story was like the right’s first successful A-bomb test. Accusations of racism have long been the left’s, and only the left’s, most explosive weapon. No more.

I don’t make this observation with admiration or pride. I understand that this could turn out badly.

It’s not as if the right had unilaterally disarmed when it comes to political attacks. Far from it. But until now, charges of racism detonated only when dropped on the right.

George Allen’s “macaca” moment cost him re-election to the Senate. Trent Lott’s praise for Strom Thurmond cost him leadership of the Senate. Fabricated quotes, approving of slavery, pinned on Rush Limbaugh cost him a chance at partially owning the NFL’s St. Louis Rams.

Joe Biden called Barack Obama “the first mainstream African American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy”; he became vice president. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid theorized that Americans accepted Obama because he was “light-skinned” and spoke “with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one”; he kept his job.

A real National Conversation about race would acknowledge that humans often say things that later make them wince, or worse, and that liberals like Biden and Reid aren’t the only ones who deserve the benefit of the doubt, of context, of grace.

In fact, I suspect most of us already reached that conclusion, or would have if not for the political point-scorers.

But there are points to score. And while I don’t condone what he did, I believe right-wing provocateur Andrew Breitbart when he says he posted the video of Sherrod to make a point about the NAACP, which days earlier condemned tea party groups for their “racist elements,” and that the effect on Sherrod was essentially collateral damage.

Breitbart is clear about his desire to turn the tables on liberal media and activist groups. That’s why he went after ACORN, and why it makes sense that he’d set his sights higher than an obscure bureaucrat.

It worked. Some of the people quickest to denounce others as bigoted, as we saw, do so a little too quickly.

But besides haste, we can detect some defensiveness. Did the administration’s rash reaction betray worries that it’s become vulnerable to charges of reverse racism? That when Obama presumes a white cop “acted stupidly” in arresting a black Harvard professor, and his Justice Department handles the New Black Panther Party with kid gloves, it undermines his post-racial appeals?

In any event, it’s clear that the left’s monopoly on these most powerful attacks is over. Perhaps, instead of retaliations that ensnare more Shirley Sherrods, we’ll recognize our mutually assured destruction. Perhaps we’ll pull back from the brink and let relations thaw.

Perhaps.

284 comments Add your comment

Hootinanny Yum Yum

July 23rd, 2010
8:50 pm

barking frog

July 23rd, 2010
9:11 pm

Lucy

July 23rd, 2010
9:23 pm

Kyle — I find your reasoning to be appalling.

“And while I don’t condone what he did, I believe right-wing provocateur Andrew Breitbart when he says he posted the video of Sherrod to make a point about the NAACP, which days earlier condemned tea party groups for their “racist elements,” and that the effect on Sherrod was essentially collateral damage.”

Well,. of course, Andrew Breithbart posted the video of Sherrod to make a point. He posted a segment of a video in order to vilify her and the NAACP and the Obama administration.

And, it worked for Andrew Briiethart (liar and champion of hate) because of people like you.

I so hope Shirley Sherrod sues Andrew Briethart.

Lucy

July 23rd, 2010
9:27 pm

Dusty

July 23rd, 2010
9:44 pm

Kyle,

Editors are made of sticks & snails & puppydog tails and you have been given the puppydog tail. This story is completely worn out. Bookman hit it at least a half dozen times or so. PBS Newshour mentioned it. Washington Week in Review was on toiight. The subject was :Sherrod. Doing the huming and hawing , not once was the racist line mentioned. Sherrod herself said it in her speech. She had said (as part of her job) she helped a farmer some but not all she could because he was white. Much later in her speech she said she was changed and did not feel that way any more. OK.. A changed person!!!

She is a reformed racist. Sen Byrd was a reformed KKK. How many reformed racist are going to show up for Democrats? Will Rangel turn up as one who only stole from whites but is now changed and steals from everybody??? Why don’t we leave things as they happened and not spin happy housr over politically correct conversions?

I dont consider this pro or con for Republicans. Not even a weapon. The Democrats, long on predjudice against any Republican, can wiggle in their own wanton ways on this one. Republicans should sit back and stay silent. This is not our can of beans.

Let this penitent Democrat lead a great charge against racism, as was suggested today. Fine. The Democrats need to get rid of a whole lot of hate of all kinds. We’ll be watching. Good luck!! And I mean it!!

Real American

July 23rd, 2010
9:52 pm

Seriously? This nut is defending Breitbart? SMH

"Rush" To Judgement

July 23rd, 2010
10:09 pm

If the right is trying to frighten White America it must be close to an election. The Mexicans are coming, the Mexicans are coming….the N…gers are coming, the N..gers are coming, the gays are coming, the gays are coming. One if by land, two if by sea!

Demopublican

July 23rd, 2010
10:19 pm

Imagine! I hope someday you’ll join us

killerj

July 23rd, 2010
10:26 pm

Go tea parties and demopublican may god find a thunderbolt for you to ever bring him into a political bout,.my middle finger to you from Uncle John! ST. Andrews forever.XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

Bob

July 23rd, 2010
10:31 pm

“In any event, it’s clear that the left’s monopoly on these most powerful attacks is over. Perhaps, instead of retaliations that ensnare more Shirley Sherrods, we’ll recognize our mutually assured destruction. Perhaps we’ll pull back from the brink and let relations thaw.”

I can only wish that I were wrong to imagine that your newspaper would not hire a Black reporter of your equal writing and reasoning skills, however, I seriously think not. I am certain that if hired a Black reporter would never be so demented as to see and attempt to sell Mrs. Sherrod as a racist right wing republican weapon. You guys have super weapon Sarah ‘refudiation of common sense’ Palin, remember? As one great fictional american philosopher once said, “stupid is as stupid does.” Thanks for sharing auch an honest gaze into the mindset of American White Racism.

Steve

July 23rd, 2010
11:02 pm

The truth is they are loosing in Obama the excuse to play the race card when convenient. Yes, all the races are coming after whitey, and just as all the races have a right to defend themselves, so does whitey because after all white is a race too. Only, the reality is no one, not shirley or Obama or anyone else gets to play that old woa is me card anymore. Why?

Because sooner or later, race doesn’t matter, at all.

So, all you African-Americans, and you Latinos and you Asians, and you whites… Wake up nag join the American Race. We are afterall Americans, just that, nothing more. And if you don’t, well then I say it’s fair game to go ahead and be discriminatory. Because if one group can, all can and we all lose.

And that goes for everyone on this chat room, and all the other rooms labeling themselves as right or left, up or down. Your Americans dammit, start acting like it.

Rucka

July 23rd, 2010
11:02 pm

Kyle, you must have missed that B’s original posting of the video referred to showing a “federal employee being racist” or some such hooey. His target was clear. His intentional misunderstanding of what the NAACP resolution actually said, and that he HAD THE TAPE SINCE MARCH and says he didn’t vet it?! show his true intent was to firebomb Sherrod, embarrass Obama, and then shame the NAACP as an after thought, which also didn’t stick. You CAN believe him, but I doubt I’ll trust you or your ‘opinion’ ever again!

Florida

July 23rd, 2010
11:08 pm

The political atmosphere in this country is so thick I don’t even think you can cut it with a knife.
I’m afraid the United States is going down in flames and this administration is more and more
taking all of us with them.

I have now some friends who lost their homes but saved enough money and are now moving to Costa Rica, It’s very sad.

Mama Says

July 23rd, 2010
11:31 pm

Kyle,

what is this all about ? haven’t you learned racist are only on the right ?

racist on the left, come on, we have been told several times that to be a racist you have to have power—oh I forgot Obama is the President, I don’t guess the race baiting libs mean that kind of power do they ? Only the conservative kind !

Steve Savage

July 24th, 2010
12:15 am

There was a satirical song not so long ago that said, “we’re all a little bit racist, sometimes…”
Kyle is fair to point that out and to call for some “grace.” As for folks that intentionally fan the flames of our common weakness (and this happens from the right and left), there is no real excuse. There is no noble explanation of what Breitbart did here any more than for those that posted the carefully edited clips from Obama’s former pastor. There is also no excuse for how the media (right and left) and the administration responded. I’m not saying we should all become cynics, but we should be slow to judge based on ANY single source.

Grand Forks

July 24th, 2010
12:26 am

“In any event, it’s clear that the left’s monopoly on these most powerful attacks is over. ”

According to the left wing retards in the media, Obamao was supposed to “heal the racial wounds” but instead he’s nothing more than Jesse Jackson with a law degree.

It’s gotta suck to be a left wing retard these days.

Grand Forks

July 24th, 2010
12:27 am

I wonder what Cynthia will do now that the race tactics are no longer working?

Scout

July 24th, 2010
12:31 am

Kyle:

Headline: “Ousted ag official finds new cause – “We’ve gotta get beyond this black vs. white issue,” Shirley Sherrod says.”

So why did she call me a racist (a Republican who opposes Obama’s health care plan) ?????

vuduchld

July 24th, 2010
1:08 am

So, you’re a “journalist” huh!? Tell me, did you lie and fabricate when you were in college? I bet you did, Did you lie on your resume when you got this gig. I surely think so. Like I have told you time and again, you do readers disservice with your inexperience. For you call yourself a “journalist” is a scam. You’re no better than that scum bag Bretibart. This piece of trash, like yourself IS NOT a journalist or even a media wonk. He. like you, is a fraud full of crock pot pseudo junk gobbleygook and for you to “try and understand” why he did what he did shows your lack of credability and trust to be a journalist.

Like I have said before, if you are the best AJC can do then God help the city of Atlanta and the AJC. Tell you what, why don’t you do the David Taylor thing and go into the Holocaust denier business because that is where hypocrites like you and Bretibart belong!

Mama Says

July 24th, 2010
1:31 am

Kyle,

I didn’t know you were into holocaust denying—-come to think of it I should have known, after all you are a conservative. Oh to be a liberal–maybe one day we can all be perfect.

John

July 24th, 2010
3:18 am

What’s so sad about all of this race garbage is that everyone in this country will wave flags and claim that this is such a Christian nation founded on Christian principles and pray before political gatherings, sporting events, etc. But when it comes to issues of race, they act anything but Christian, both black and white, democrats and republicans alike. In fact you couldn’t pay black and white Christians to even worship together. Now you’ve got so called Christians who endorse Brietbart’s gutter tactics. I’m assuming the writer of this article professes the Christian faith. If that is correct, I would highly encourage him to not think along party lines for just once in his life, and follow the teachings of Christ on this one.

Dave

July 24th, 2010
5:08 am

I look forward to a day when I can express my republican conservative views without the perception that it equates to I therefore must be against minorities, ect…

Lil' Barry Bailout

July 24th, 2010
5:25 am

It’s over in November, Democrat fascists.

A CONSERVATIVE

July 24th, 2010
5:36 am

LORD……even when you speak the TRUTH…the left bring out the long sharp knives of condemnation….via political correctness…the right is suppose to remain silent on race…too many people & groups existence depends on keeping the rift alive….NAALCP for one..

A CONSERVATIVE

July 24th, 2010
5:38 am

THE OBAMA campaign will use the RACE card in the 2012 elections…you can count on it..

AJC_is_Joke

July 24th, 2010
7:34 am

Sherrod a Georgia resident, was never supported by the AJC. I didn’t find an original article from the AJC during this whole experience.

This news paper is biased. I watched and waited for a REAL JOURNALIST from the AJC to get the truth behind the story. Unfortunately the AJC is full of cowards, propagandist, entertainers, and right-wing supporters. Where are the reporters and journalist? I guess I shouldn’t expect anything from a newspaper in a RED state. If anyone would’ve found the truth, you’d think the AJC would’ve been the first to discover this horrible incident was false. Instead in the fallout you report about how the right has ammunition. I’d love to give you the famous slang two word expletive AJC(F..Y..). Instead I challenge you to stop taking sides and report facts and search for truth. At least leave your office for a story.

Yes race is an issue. Here in Covington I here my white freinds, neighbors, and coworkers use the N-word like it’s oxygen. Why would I expect unbias debate from this newspaper, when the whole state is corrupted by race? This is a disease. We must dialogue with each other, other races, remain open minded, listen, continue dialogue, and be honest about our feelings. This is the only way we can heal this. Black people are hurt. White people instead of helping heal the hurt they throw salt on the wound, then spit on it, then they step on it. So until white people decide to let this issue go, it’ll be here forever. You must ask black people for forgiveness and we can all move on. It’s all just plain ignorance.

PS I’d like to thank Darwin for all his contributions to this topic

Mr Attitude

July 24th, 2010
8:34 am

It was a shame as to what happened to Mrs. Sherrod this week. Regardless of how the onion is peeled, this was a straight smear job on the part of andrew breitbart and his zest to discredit the NAACP. But he knew that Mrs. Sherrod was innocent, but he and his cronies at fox/false news wanted to run the story. As any cub reporter knows, why didn’t breitbart take the tape to all networks. No, he know that by going to fox the firestorm that would be created. And with the pure society at fox, they are looking for anything to whet their appetite that a black president only cares about black people. It’s not like fox and other channels wanted to find out the truth, they deliberately ran with this angle.

It is a well known fact that many whites aren’t happy with a black man being president of the United States. Yet we continue to see the evidence of white privilege rearing its ugly head every day and false new pushing the southern strategy across the nation.

As for a dialogue on race, AG Holder said it best when he stated that this nation is a bunch of cowards when it comes to talking about race. The talk of the nation getting past race when President Obama was elected was a smokescreen. His election on heightened the fears of those whites who feel that minorities do not deserve to serve in certain positions and when there is not a white man in the White House, most whites are highly upset. It is well known that the sanctity of the WH does not hold the image of a non-white sitting in its seat.

I am still trying to find when bush went through the EXACT SAME TREATMENT that President Obama is undergoing. bush was mainly hit for his zeal to go to war (favorite tool of the neocons), but being challenged about where is was born, being called a monkey, is not something bush encountered.

If there is ever a REAL discussion on race, let me know and I’ll be there.

Scooter

July 24th, 2010
8:34 am

AJC_is_Joke

July 24th, 2010
7:34 am

It sounds to me like you need to let it go. Whew!

MarkV

July 24th, 2010
8:39 am

The great outrage of the aftermath of the Sherrod affair is that most of the attention is on the administration’s mishandling of the event rather than on the perpetrators. It is as if someone was mugged, and everybody criticized how the victim had reacted, rather than the mugger’s actions. AJC’s coverage has been cowardly to an extreme. All they could write about Breibart was that he was “controversial.” Where is the criticism of those dregs of the journalistic sewer, the Fox news, who spent an evening denouncing Sherrod without any checking, and now are attacking the WH for not checking?

Scooter

July 24th, 2010
8:44 am

Mr Attitude

July 24th, 2010
8:34 am

If it weren’t for white people voting for Obama he wouldn’t even be in the White House. :roll:

Don't forget

July 24th, 2010
9:02 am

Kyle,
There’s a lot that could be said about this subject and although I don’t agree with every point you make I think there is validity to some of it. What is missing is an equally robust condemnation of the exploitation of racial fears, a major tool of the right.

Mr Attitude

July 24th, 2010
9:05 am

Scooter,
You are providing a fact that is not only well known to me but to many, including blacks. Also, there were blacks who voted for mccain.

My blog stated “many white” and “those whites”, not “all whites”.

To Steve Savage

July 24th, 2010
9:12 am

Amen to that brother Steve. Why can’t we all live together with judging?

Hank Williams Jr.

July 24th, 2010
9:12 am

Vote em out and racisism will be OVER..

DO YOU HEAR ME NOW ??

Mr Attitude

July 24th, 2010
9:14 am

Kyle,
I commend you for the writing of this article. You pretty much stayed down the middle and addressed many items, but when you went for the comparison and contrast with the left and right politicians, you placed the argument once again on the right.

Next time, just stay in the middle when discussing this type of subject. You will still keep your fans on the right without compromise and you could also gain some on the left.

S. Mullen

July 24th, 2010
9:33 am

Politicians throughout our nation’s capital regularly use the scathing accusations of racism, greed and ignorance to discredit middle-class Americans in an attempt to further their own political careers or deflect attention from their own shortcomings.

The true cause of the hurried dismissal of Shirley Sherrod from the Agriculture Department was not a lone Internet blogger, but an attempt by the administration in Washington to quickly distance itself from racism, by swiftly branding another American citizen as racist.

Sound bites are used to paint Tea Party activists as racists who are ignorant of the complexities of national legislation, undoubtedly because they are questioning the legislation of our entrenched two-party system. Business leaders and employers have been labeled greedy and self-serving in an attempt to distract the public from elected officials’ inability to resolve our nation’s economic problems.

And all the while, Americans, black and white are losing jobs in record numbers. This isn’t a race war, it’s a civil war between the people and a government who no longer cares about the people. African Americans need to wake up! They are being used and abused just like White Americans are being used and abused.

Scooter

July 24th, 2010
9:39 am

Mr Attitude,I agree with some of what you say. If you will go back and read your post,you will see it says “most whites are highly upset”. Not tring to pick a fight,just don’t agree with that!

citizen

July 24th, 2010
9:49 am

I have come to realize through this debacle that the real ‘deal breaker’ is education. Being well informed helped Mr. and Mrs Sherrod become successful in thier lawsuit against USDA and win a $13 Million dollar settlement in the Pigford vs Vilsack case that was settled in 2009. Without the sophistication that comes with being smart and connected with other intelligent individuals, this financial windfall may have been rewarded to some other group. Surely, there are other individuals who deserve this settlement as much as Mr. and Mrs. Sherrod as there are still more former farmers that haven’t been successful in their attempt to be a part of this movement.

@@

July 24th, 2010
9:50 am

DANG, Kyle, you left out the “best” comment made by Harry Reid. It pretty much summed up how democrats feel about ALL Americans. It went something like this….”YOU SMELL BAD!!!!”

Well, Harry…RIGHT BACK ATCHA, LITTLE MAN!!!!

Mr Attitude

July 24th, 2010
9:50 am

Hey Scooter,
No prob with your post and I never viewed it as trying to pick a fight. Just a good discussion on our parts. I like your points of view and that you are letting me know what you don’t agree with some of the blog. I see nothing wrong with that at all.

Scooter

July 24th, 2010
9:54 am

Mr Attitude

July 24th, 2010
9:50 am

:smile:

@@

July 24th, 2010
10:05 am

being called a monkey, is not something bush encountered.

WRONG!

“Chimperor in Chief”…a title bestowed upon GWB by the left-wing blogosphere. That, and “The Shrub”.

KiknUSquareWell..UKnow

July 24th, 2010
10:39 am

@A Conservative feels that “the right is suppose to remain silent on race”. This is B-S and you know it.

The REAL desire is for you to NOT “remain silent on race”, rather to deal with it on an OPEN AND HONEST LEVEL. You however want to deal with it on YOUR terms, which are too often:

1) Denial and exclusion of historial context and its implications on the present.

2) The inability to acknowledge the inherent PRIVILEGE enjoyed by the majority group as opposed to minority groups.

You would rather instead try to find evidence of reflected racism in order to justify your own. And trust that it IS reflected racism.

Until these first two hurdles are overcome, the conversation will never happen and you will remain “silent”.

joe

July 24th, 2010
10:43 am

If you take the politics out of it, here’s what we are left with…we have poor uneducated white folk, who are more often that not rural dwellers who often are called red necks. Then we have poor uneducated urban black folk who are often are called N word or thugs. Then we have poor uneducated hispanics who are often illegal aliens.

We also have educated white, black and hispanic folk who live good lives and are contributors to society. they live in good homes, raise families, are hard working and want a better life for their children. We also have some uber rich white black and hispanic folk who employ a lot of the others groups previously mentioned.

The two key words here are “education” and “hard working.” If you are in any of the above groups and demonstrate a drive to get an education and become a sensible hard working adult and stay off drugs, you will have a good life. If you choose the other path, you end up with out of wedlock kids, a drug problem, can’t find or hold a job and will live a hard life. These two main attributes take the race out of the equation. We need to do the same with our politics and realize that the rest don’t matter.

And small governments mean we keep more of what we have…for us and to pass on to our children. Remember that come November.

Rafe Hollister

July 24th, 2010
10:55 am

Kyle, great post, you really brought the left wing out from under their rocks. They complain that you are no Journalist, what they mean is they prefer the JournOlist. I believe you to be a commentator rather than a journalist anyhow. They like their news sanitized to be palatable for their sensative side.

And since no one else defends Breitbart, I would like to point out that he posted both ends of her speach. The part everyone played that inferred she was a racist and he posted the end of the speach where she claimed to have seen the light and took the redemption. Legal Analysist that I saw seemed to think she had no basis to sue as both sides were posted and Breitbart had no control of what was played by the networks. Thank goodness we have a new media where the truth has a chance to eventually get out and is not surpressed, as before.

citizen

July 24th, 2010
10:57 am

Joe @ 10:43am
I absolutely agree with you. When all the layers are peeled back, it is a simple matter of education and hard work. Mrs. Sherrod and her husband are success stories due to their education and hard work. This fact has been overlooked due to the politicizing of race to create an atmosphere of friction to rally the voters.

WAR

July 24th, 2010
11:14 am

i’ve taught mixed (high school) classes with black, white, hispanic. i’ve taught classes that were majority white or majority black. the mixed classes had more more open discussions about race, culture, stereotypes, prejudices, and bias than the majority classes. funny too that many of the thoughts the majority classes had about others were baseless. many of the majority would admit they had no/little interaction with others outside of their comfort zone. i didn’t agree with everything in this blog… but i am glad we are addressing race. i wish we didn’t do it as libs/dems and conserves/repubs but as Americans.

WAR

July 24th, 2010
11:18 am

i don’t want jews to let go of the holocaust. i don’t want blacks to let go of slavery. i don’t want southerners to let go of the civil war. i don’t want native americans to let go of the trail of tears. i want us–Americans–to remember all that makes us Americans… our history, our culture, our differences, our likes. wanting others to let go of who they are and what makes them/us Americans.

WAR

July 24th, 2010
11:19 am

last… then i’m gone.
education is freedom.

interested observer

July 24th, 2010
11:24 am

I’m left of center, but no political movement or race is free of bigotry. It’s human nature to look askance at those who differ from us, and too often we use that difference is a basis for false and negative assumptions.

I suspect that much of the hatred of Obama stems from his race, but I’m not about to presume that any particular criticism is race-based unless I’m aware of some persistent race-related behavior of the individual or group making the criticism.

Maybe we need to ask ourselves how worked up about “immigration reform” we’d be if the bulk of our illegal immigrants were Caucasian instead of brown-skinned Hispanics. Now there’s a group against whom racism is still largely considered acceptable.