Andrew Breitbart shouldn’t have posted the video excerpts of Shirley Sherrod’s speech with the comment that “the NAACP awards racism.” It was a mistake to do so. He was had.
Others including ourselves should not have followed suit. It was a mistake to do so. We extended our apologies to Ms. Sherrod as soon as the unedited video of the speech was made available.
The NAACP condemned Ms. Sherrod’s speech. The speech was given at an NAACP event. One would think the organization was in a position to comment knowledgeably about the speech, but apparently not. The organization has retracted its initial condemnation, asserting it was “snookered.”
The Obama administration should not have forced Ms. Sherrod’s resignation. It was a mistake to do so. The Obama administration has apologized and offered Ms. Sherrod a new position that may well be better than the one from which she was forced to resign. If it’s not, she should be offered reinstatement to her old position.
The shafting of Shirley Sherrod came to an end within something like 24 hours. As I see it, she was owed apologies by those from whom she has received them, in addition to one from my friend Andrew, from whom she has not. She has become a celebrity and an advertisement for racial redemption.
Breitbart was induced to post the videos as a result of the NAACP’s false imputation of racism to the Tea Party movement. Breitbart has done heroic work to rebut the charge. See his post linked above.
Prominent reporters and news organizations such as Matt Bai of the New York Times continue to assert that Tea Party protesters of Obamacare subjected Rep. John Lewis et al. to racial abuse on Capitol Hill on March 20. Rep. Lewis et al. went walking through the crowd apparently hoping to touch off a racial incident, but there is no evidence other than the congressmen’s say-so that one occurred.
Obama supporters (including the media) continue to assert that a racial incident discrediting the Tea Party movement occurred on March 20. This despite the fact that there was no witness to the alleged incident other than the congressmen peddling the story, the alleged abuse took place among a large crowd including many witnesses, reporters and videographers, and multiple videos of the congressmen waking through the crowd show no such incident.
Observers using their common sense would conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that no such incident occurred. They would conclude that the congressmen’s account was fabricated.
In the case of Sherrod we now have the full video record. In the case of Rep. Lewis et al., we have something very much like it. Clever reporters and editors refuse to apply their common sense to the evidence. If they don’t necessarily buy the congressmen’s story, they gladly retail it. If challenged, they hold out the metaphysical possibility that the incident may have occurred as alleged on the ground that the absence of proof supporting it doesn’t necessarily mean it didn’t happen. The rationale sounds sophisticated but it is, under the circumstances, unreasonable.
Racism is a very bad thing. By the same token, false imputations of racism are a very bad thing. False charges of racism motivated by politics are particularly disgusting. They have devalued the charge, if not the offense. They have nevertheless become the stock in trade of the Democratic Party and its media adjunct.
The political use of the charge of racism by Rep. Lewis and his Democratic co-conspirators, by the New York Times, and by many others is itself a grave offense against the public interest that continues to this hour.
PAUL adds: I agree with Scott. In my opinion, though, there is evidence of racial bias in this story, not on the part of Sherrod (who follows the strand of leftism that puts class above race) but on the part of her NAACP audience. During the portions of Sherrod’s talk in which she described her impulse to discriminate against a white farmer years ago, some members of her NAACP audience nodded and otherwise expressed their approval.
Sherrod had prefaced her speech by saying that the “the struggle is really about poor people” rather than helping only blacks. But portions of the NAACP audience nonetheless ate up the part of Sherrod’s story in which she described how, initially at least, she provided less than her full assistance to a white farmer.
I suspect it was because the tape incriminates members of the NAACP that this poor excuse for a civil rights organization rushed to condemn Sherrod.
UPDATE: Glenn Reynolds has collected much outstanding commentary expressing points of view that emphasize points other than mine. Glenn himself comments: “[W]hen the JournoList crowd was fomenting deliberate lies about the tea parties, the Frum-types were happy to join in the pile-on. A lot of us noticed. Don’t expect us to be impressed by your self-proclaimed ethical standards now. . . .” Start at the link and scroll down for the commentary Glenn has rounded up. See also Yid with Lid’s “What I learned from the Shirley Sherrod case” (also via Glenn).
UPDATE (by Paul): Andy McCarthy argues against lionizing Sherrod. He questions whether her speech was, in fact, about transcending racism.
I agree with Andy that Sherrod should not be lionized (nor has she been on Power Line). Sherrod was a victim here, to be sure. But if she transcended racism, it was only through something akin to Marxism.
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