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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shirley Sherrod And Mea Culpas And Race Baiting

When Andrew Breitbart received an edited version of an old video clip supposedly showing massively racist comments coming from Shirley Sherrod who was a federal employee, the media and blogosphere exploded and the end result was Sherrod being forced to resign her position at the USDA.

When the story broke, I saw the clip and decided to wait, for reasons of my own, preferring to see the whole video before weighing in.

I am glad I did so.

Turns out that the full video put her comments into context and proved there was no racism involved in her comments.

Those that jumped on the story, for whatever reason, owe her apologies and I see many giving out their mea culpas quite publicly.

Good for them, they should and I am seeing corrections and/or apologies being written by the boatload.

Confirm and verify should be the lesson everyone learns from this and for some it will be a very painful lesson.

The whole episode is bringing out some very interesting questions though.

The NAACP, for example, issued a scathing statement against Sherrod, to which they apologized in another statement, blaming Fox News and Breitbart for "snookering" them, but it turns out that they had the full version of the speech, the full clip which they posted on their site, the whole time, even before they issued their first response.

CNN's Campbell Brown criticized the NAACP Vice President Hilary Shelton for reaffirming their statement about being "snookered":

“I don’t believe you were snookered. You allowed yourself to be snookered and you’re the ones to blame here because you had the tape in your possession and you could have easily watched it and known the full context of her remarks. You didn’t have to take your information solely from these conservative bloggers you now say snookered you.”

Why on earth, if they had the video, did they issue their original statement? Sherrod is placing much blame on them for her resignation, via Politico.

The blow back against Breitbart and conservatives who wrote about this before the full video was released is continuing and more mea culpas are coming out as I write this. The blow back focused on the White House and NAACP for acting before seeing the full video is also continuing.

Those that wrote about this are apologizing and those that have not issued one yet, soon will be if they are smart, and hopefully Sherrod will be able to get her job back.

I am going to give The Achoress the last word here:

I have zero patience for these visitors from the left who have come to this site like smug Ted Baxters, condescendingly patting me on the head for, apparently, meeting with their highbrow approval and then demanding that I “further denounce” Breitbart. When I ask them if they, in turn, will “denounce and disavow” nonsense like this and this from the left, why they morph into an amalgam of Claude Reins and Sgt. Schultz: they are shocked, shocked! They knew nothing, nothing of those leftist fabrications and manipulations!

Then they go away…

This whole sordid mess of a story–which is clearly not over–may tell us that it is past time for people of good will to stop tolerating politically-expedient charges of racism, regardless of whether they originate from genuinely from overzealous, malicious bloggers or from Congressmen who are confident that any charge they make will be deemed insta-credible, or from journalists who ignore real racism while trying to ignite the charge elsewhere, for the advancement of their own partisan agendas, or from the rightly marginalized, fringe-living, stupid people who every sensible person condemns.

The NAACP’s maneuver last week was an attempt at cynical manipulation, a lazy card they thought they could play, because it’s always taken the pot, before. They ticked off Breitbart, who upped the ante, but appears to have done so recklessly.

Everyone’s credibility is now strained, and perhaps that is a good thing. Perhaps the left should finally leave behind the smug instinct to sniff, “racism, straight up” over sincere disagreements on policy. If they can manage that, then perhaps the right can stop feeling so defensive.

Good advise for everybody all around.

Related, via Memerandum:

The Racism Meme: A Tale Of Two Different Progressive Media Standards

Shirley Sherrod — My Take

So much for that ‘conversation’ on race

USDA will reconsider firing

Washington Post- Firing of USDA official highlights larger political problems involving race