You may have heard something about former USDA employee Shirley Sherrod last week. She’s the civil-rights veteran who got forced out of her job after rightwing provocateur Andrew Breitbart released a video of her remarks before the NAACP, edited to make her look anti-white. You may also have heard that the tape turned out to be a con-job.
But if you follow only rightbloggers for news (and why wouldn’t you? MSM lies!), you’d know that the real villains here are President Obama, the NAACP, black people in general, even Shirley Sherrod — everyone and anyone but the people who smeared her.
Breitbart had been gunning for the NAACP since some black Democrats claimed in March that Tea Party people had shown them racist treatment. With the Sherrod tape, in which she was shown saying she’d once, as an employee of a non-profit, failed to give a white farmer who came for her help “the full force of what I could do,” Breitbart announced he’d uncovered “video evidence of racism coming from a federal appointee and NAACP award recipient.” Even worse, the audience was seen chuckling appreciatively at her story — proof that all of them hate Whitey!
Because black racism is the only kind today’s conservatives believe exists, rightbloggers luxuriated in Breitbart’s truncated tape. (So did Fox News, which by now is basically just a large-screen projection of rightblogging.)
Jim Hoft of Gateway Pundit railed against “the former civil rights group known as the NAACP” and claimed the “Radical Obama Official” Sherrod “admits in a speech at the NAACP that she discriminated against farmers because they were white.”
Moonbattery gave “Shirley ‘Black Power’ Sherrod,” a “Pea Brain Award” (pictured below) for “admitted institutional racism.” “Simply put,” said Sister Toldjah, “it’s ok to be a racist in this country as long as you are a black Democrat.”
As usually happens with mobs of this character, their outrage slopped over from Sherrod to the the rest of the black folks in the room. Dan Riehl, in addition to calling Sherrod “A Racist And A Marxist,” added that the NAACP were “House Slaves Of A Mostly White DNC.”
Winning this week’s Chutzpah Trophy, the American Spectator‘s Jeffrey Lord actually compared the NAACP to racist screamer Mel Gibson. “Mel and the NAACP. What stories. What legends,” wrote Lord. “And what both now appear to have in common is that each has been living a very sad lie.”
But Breitbart’s video showed only a small part of Sherrod’s speech. When context was added (transcript and video here), Sherrod’s remarks were revealed to mean almost exactly the opposite of what had been claimed for them.
She told the crowd that because of her own brutal experience of racism (her father had been murdered; because his killers were white, they were never brought to justice), she had been less than eager at first to help the white farmer. But once she saw how badly he’d been served by the white lawyer to whom she’d taken hem, she stepped in on his behalf. “Well, working with him made me see that it’s really about those who have versus those who don’t, you know,” she said. “And they could be black, and they could be white…”
To top it all off, the farmer in question and his wife backed Sherrod up on that, and said they remain grateful for her help.
Before the truth could come out, though, both the USDA and the NAACP had already over-reacted, the first by firing Sherrod, the second by condemning her remarks. It is presumed that they didn’t want to give the black-racism crowd any ammunition for the next news cycle.
When the truth came out, both the USDA and the NAACP apologized.
But a depressing number of rightbloggers didn’t see any reason why they should.
Sister Toldjah, who had been so roped in by this alleged proof of black racism, now saw valuable lessons in the bullshit Breitbart story: “It’s not ok to level false charges of racism against someone — but only if that person is a Democrat/liberal.” Also: “President Obama and Co. are still apparently willing to throw people under the bus rapid fire with minimal to no evidence of wrongdoing.” And, “‘Post-racial’ America isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.”
Oh, and if you’re a “big time conservative media guy/gal,” you have to “have all of your ducks in a row before you go forth with potentially explosive info,” because if you don’t, people will be “even more skeptical of cons[ervative] claims of racism coming from left wing organizations when the fact is that it DOES happen, as I have and others have frequently documented.”
In other words, it’s everyone else’s fault, and it’s too bad that this unfortunate incident will make it harder to convince the sheeple that blacks are the real racists.
(Later, when she found out that Sherrod objected to what she considered Fox News’ slanderous treatment of her, Sister Toldjah declared, “Shirley Sherrod, YOU owe Fox News an apology.” We’re not sure if the resemblance to Al Pacino’s cries of ” YOU’RE out of order” in …And Justice for All is deliberate, or serendipitous.)
In a ringing “Defense of Andrew Breitbart,” Dan Riehl did microanalysis on the full tape. When the NAACP folks chuckled at Sherrod’s initial reticence to help the white guy, that was not about “racism from some 40 years ago,” Riehl said, but “contemporaneous expression of racism by today’s politically correct standards.”
Also, “Sherrod twice decried present-day racism, as if it was 400 years ago,” which was the last time white racism was detected in this country. “Clearly Sherrod sees everything through the lens of color or race… If there’s anyone who needs to apologize, it is a Shirley Sherrod unfit for public service and the NAACP–not Andrew Breitbart…”
In case you think maybe Riehl just lost a bet or something, he’s been churning out this stuff since the fraud was discovered, even attacking National Review rightbloggers Rich Lowry and Jonah Goldberg as a “Silly Little Schoolboy” and a “Wuss,” respectively, for not remaining on the barricades with him in defense of Breitbart at his moment of peril.
And back at Gateway Pundit, Hoft cheered that while “the media wants desperately for Breitbart to admit wrongdoing in the Sherrod racial incident,” Breitbart instead “is lashing back at the media for misrepresenting his story.” (Hoft, too, just keeps pumping this stuff out.)
Other rightbloggers showed a little more finesse, not to mention better self-preservation instincts, seeking not to deny the reality of the Sherrod tape outright, but to direct readers toward counterintuitive interpretations of it.
At National Review, Michael Leeden affected to defend Sherrod — not against Breitbart, whose name didn’t come up, but against the Obama White House. “Her presumed sin was deviation, and she was purged from the ranks of the faithful,” poeticized Ledeen. “She didn’t even get to testify before the Inquisition: accused and convicted. Justice was done, quickly and efficiently.” Sherrod was only saved, claimed Ledeen, because “friends of the Inquisition came forward and declared her one of the faithful.”
You wouldn’t know from this puzzling description that Sherrod was actually cleared by evidence rather than by auto de fé, and we suspect the obscurantism is deliberate, because it has become a popular rightblogger gambit to focus on the Administration’s and the NAACP’s hasty reaction to the original, bogus charges, rather than on the bogus charges themselves.
“The Right is hardly abashed that Ms. Sherrod ended up being maligned by the Obama administration and defended by Glenn Beck,” said Moe Lane, who also predicted that “the Middle is mostly going to take away from all of this the sight of the White House apologizing to a black woman for passing instant judgment on her based on the color of her skin, rather than the content of her character.” See, folks of The Middle, your black President is so racist, being racist against whites isn’t enough for him — he has to be racist against other blacks, too. He’s insatiable that way.
Dave Price, after giving the old “If this was a white Republican man who admitted to having discriminated against blacks” routine a try, came up with our favorite plausible-deniability defense: “No prominent voice on the right, as far as I know, actually called for Sherrod to be fired.” Maybe they were hoping Obama would just make her run some laps or something.
The NAACP was also to blame: “The NAACP can’t get out its own way on the story of Shirley Sherrod,” said Power Line. “…neither Fox News nor Breitbart forced the NAACP to issue a condemnation before reviewing the full tape and speaking to Sherrod.” Why, an outraged public demands to know, is the NAACP hitting itself? To repeat, why is it hitting itself?
(Power Line also referred to the organization in scare-quotes as “the ‘civil rights’ group,” which, given the organization’s history, is rather like referring to Stephen Hawking as “a ‘scientist'” and the extermination of six million Jews in Hitler’s Germany as “the so-called ‘Holocaust.'”)
When NAACP head Ben Jealous claimed his organization had been “snookered” by conservatives activists, Jim Hoft — yes, him again! — suggested that was impossible, because “President Jealous forgot to mention one thing.” [Dramatic pause] “He may have been at the event.”
The strange wording of this crypto-accusation (“Forgot to mention” that he “may” have been at the event? Did he have amnesia?) showed that Hoft didn’t have the goods, but his dudgeon remained as high as if he’d obtained a full confession: “If President Jealous is going to investigate the disgusting audience reaction at this NAACP event,” said Hoft, “he may want to start by looking in a mirror.” You will not be surprised this story, too, turned out to be bullshit.
Meanwhile, as you look out over the news — including the non-rightblogger news, we should add — you will see that the person who has probably sustained the least damage in the event is Breitbart, even though his tape started the whole problem. There are a couple of reasons for this. For one, God hates us and wants us to suffer. For another, unlike the Obama Administration or the NAACP, Beitbart hasn’t reversed himself or admitted error. (His “correction” does not relate to the central issue of Sherrod’s allegedly racist remarks.)
This impenetrability, along with his relative lack of importance, makes the press disinclined to touch him, and they turn instead on those who have shown what is perceived at our current, immature level of civilization as weakness. When Sherrod surmised that the NAACP “got into a fight with the tea party, and all of this came out as a result of that,” the headlines all read SHERROD BLAMES NAACP. “Where is Obama’s ‘teachable moment’ on race?” demanded the Christian Science Monitor. Maureen Fucking Dowd did a New York Times column about how there aren’t enough real black people in the Obama Administration. Etc.
It all reminds us of the moment in Animal House when Flounder borrows his brother’s car and, despite his stated concern for its well-being, his Delta brothers cause it to be wrecked. “You fucked up,” Otter cheerfully tells him. “You trusted us!” A lot can be accomplished, in this sorry and unjust world, with sheer nerve and a steadfast refusal to accept responsibility for anything.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 26, 2010