Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Shirley Sherrod story

Shirley Sherrod
I guess this is worth a mention - if only because of the overblown amount of press the story has been receiving.

For those who need to be brought up to speed - briefly: A USDA employee, Shirley Sherrod, made a 43-minute speech to the NAACP in March. In and of itself, no big deal. But a right-wing blogger, Andrew Breitbart, edited the speech down to about four minutes, wherein it made Shirley Sherrod sound like a racist (the truth: hell no - she's black, from the south, her father was killed by the KKK, and her speech was one of redemption - about how she saved a white farmer from losing his farm). The editing of the video was, of course, an unfair extrapolation - but, as we all know, it was just another of the typical dirty tricks that the right wing / Tea Party / Republicans / conservatives / idiots (you pick) love to play in this racially-charged country.

Here's the problem: Based on the edited video (and, it seems, influenced by the fact that Sherrod was scheduled to appear on Glenn Beck's hateful "show" on Fox that night), Tom Vilsack, the head of the USDA, promptly fired her - seems the last part of his name is àpropos! Anyhoo. Clearly, this was a huge boo-boo - you don't fire someone based on evidence that flimsy; it was obviously a politically driven knee-jerk reaction.

Now, it seems, the White House is involved in some way, shape, or form - but nobody seems to know exactly how, why, what, where or when. But of course the right is now blaming Obama and/or his administration for this mess - they're accusing them of "reverse racism." And, it seems, Vilsack is now considering offering to give Sherrod her job back. I've seen interviews with her on TV today (ABC's Good Morning America, and CNN) and she's not taking this lying down. Good for her. She is non-committal about whether she will accept her job back (assuming Vilsack offers it to her), and seems genuinely startled by all the fuss.

Where does the blame lie? In this case, on both sides - the hateful action taken by the right wing, and the knee-jerk reaction from the lefties. You decide which one was worse. I know where my thinking lies and, I suspect, so do you.

There's a lesson here: The media - including Fox News, CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, et al - need to be more responsible about what they put out, and not just blindly parrot what they see on blogs, other networks, etc. Fortunately, there are still a few (few being the operative word here) outlets that behave responsibly; the New York Times and PBS spring to mind.

Here's the really sad part: In case no-one in the U.S. has noticed, it's 2010. That's correct. We are now almost a decade into the 21st century. Why, oh why, are we still talking about race? While racism, as an example of bigotry in general, will always be with us humans (just a fact we must face), it really and truly is not this big a deal outside the U.S. As I remember saying recently: Grow the fuck up, people!

You can read some good commentary about the story here (Paul Krugman in the NYTimes) and here (The Huffington Post).


Anonymous said...

And America has the audacity to condemn racism around the world. What a bunch of hypocrites.

David said...

Ain't that the truth!