Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lessons Learned? I Wouldn't Bet the Farm On It

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It's been, to say the least, an interesting couple of weeks in American race relations. Things kicked off when the NAACP voted, at its annual convention, on a resolution that "condemns the bigoted elements within the tea party and asks for them to be repudiated." Note that the statement doesn't call all TPers racist. And as we know, it's not unusual in American politics for one group to ask another to "repudiate" its more fringe elements - so long as those fringe elements are on the so-called "left."

On one occasion, for instance, the late Tim Russert called on Barack Obama to repudiate, of all people, Harry Belafonte, for referring to President George W. Bush as a "terrorist," as if the rantings of an aging calypso star were somehow the responsibility of every black politician.

But, boy howdy, ask the TPers to distance themselves from the people at their rallies who carry signs showing the president as a witch doctor, complete with bone in nose, and just watch their old gray heads explode.

The immediate reaction was to go into their standard attack mode - as always, a variation on the old schoolyard riposte, "I know you are, but what am I?" It was the NAACP, the tea partiers asserted, who were the real racists.

Then the leader of a group called the Tea Party Express, a guy named Mark Williams, published a mock letter from the NAACP to Abraham Lincoln. "We Colored People have taken a vote and decided that we don't cotton to that whole emancipation thing," Williams wrote. "Mr. Lincoln, you were the greatest racist ever. We had a great gig. Three squares, room and board, all our decisions made by the massa in the house."

Nope, no racism there.

Within a few days, Williams was, as requested, repudiated. He and the Tea Party Express were tossed out of the the Tea Party Federation. The NAACP issued a press release commending the federation. A new day of tolerance and understanding dawned in America.

Ha ha! Just kidding.

Enter Andrew Breitbart, the man who gave the world the infamous ACORN "pimp" tapes, in which members of the community organizing group were supposedly caught on tape advising a fake pimp and his prostitute how to set up in business and avoid taxes. The tapes were later discovered by the California attorney general's office to have been "heavily edited." They cut out the fact that, among other things, one ACORN worker had called the cops and that the supposed "pimp" (shown in the intro in full Superfly regalia) had actually been dressed in a suit and tie and claimed he was a law student.

After that, Breitbart was discredited and never again believed or taken seriously by anyone of any significance.

Hee hee! Got you again!

Breitbart claimed to have found a tape of a U.S. Department of Agriculture functionary named Shirley Sherrod telling an NAACP group that, in a former job, she hadn't given a white farmer who came to her for help "the full force of what she could do." She'd taken him to a white lawyer ("one of his own kind") and, as the clip ends, left him there.

The NAACP, apparently unaware of what a dishonest propagandist Breitbart is, condemned Sherrod. She lost her job with the USDA. Then the rest of the tape came out. Once again, things were not as Breitbart had presented them. Imagine that.

Sherrod found out that the lawyer she'd referred the farmer to hadn't done much. In fact, the poor guy was about to be foreclosed on. At that time, she went on to say, she realized that "it's really about those who have versus those who don't ... and they could be black; they could be white; they could be Hispanic."

She got to work, she helped save the man's farm, and she and hisfamily remain friends to this day. He and his wife even went on CNN to try to clear Sherrod's name. Instead of a story of racism, it was a story of overcoming it. The NAACP and the White House apologized and USDA head Tom Vilsack offered Sherrod her job back. She's not sure she wants it, and who can blame her?

In the end, everyone learned a valuable lesson. From then on,everyone listened to what other people were actually saying, instead of filtering it through their own prejudices and trying to pick out little out-of-context nuggets to pelt their perceived enemies with.

Ho ho! That's a real knee-slapper, that one is.


LongHairedWeirdo said...

There's another point to this story that I think, all too often, gets overlooked.

Shirley Sherrod explained in her talk why she wasn't too eager to give every white person the full force of what she could do. When she was a young woman, her father was murdered. And, no surprises here, although there were witnesses to the crime, the white grand jury didn't want to indict. And on that night, she decided that, although she'd planned to leave the south, she was going to stay - to help the people whose very lives weren't protected by the law.

And the fact of the matter is, she helped Mr. Spooner when he came to her; all he should have needed was a lawyer to file the correct financial relief forms (chapter 12 bankruptcy? Something like that), and bam, it's done. And even then, she followed up, and learned that he was still in trouble before it was too late.

Her guilt was not in failing to do her job, or failing to render assistance - it was in failing to render as much assistance as she could have.

This wasn't a tale of a person acting mean to a white man who learned she shouldn't be that way. This was a tale of a person being less caring than she could have been, and learning to care more.

Fran said...

Did you see how now Shirley owes Breitbart an apology for calling him "racist"? And that she's being unjustly sanctified by the evil progressive liberal leftist media?

No, there is no learning curve here, except how to be even more vicious, hateful and backbiting.

Tom said...

Silly JD! Don't you know you can make more money selling hate (and weapons) than you can selling tolerance (and t-shirts)??

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Anonymous said...

Breitbart's rants about the NAACP's racism reminds me of the Jay & Silent Bob bit where Jay is shouting "It is YOU who are the dick lickers!"

Hugo Chavez does this a lot, too.


So Breitbart is a Bolivarian socialist?

Hey, I'm just using his Swiss cheese logic.

LongHairedWeirdo said...

Breitbart's rants about the NAACP's racism reminds me of the Jay & Silent Bob bit where Jay is shouting "It is YOU who are the dick lickers!"

You *see* what happens when you embrace edited videos and the politics of personal destruction?

The *proper* quote is "You are the ones who are the ball-lickers".

I hope you didn't get Jay fired, taking him out of context like that.