In the wake of the Shirley Sherrod incident various news sources are trying to contextualize the numerous apologies and mea culpas by taking this travesty out of context. The Seattle Times wrote, “When it became clear that Shirley Sherrod’s comments had been taken out of context, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack apologized …” even Fox anchor Bill O’Reilly apologized and stated, “I owe Ms. Sherrod an apology for not doing my homework…and for not putting her remarks into proper context.”
What conservative operative Andrew Breitbart did to Ms. Sherrod was intentional, malicious, and borderline criminal. He did not accidentally omit a word or two or place extra emphasis on the wrong syllable resulting in the failure to clarify the meaning of an event. In an attempt to shift the focus away from the NAACP’s justified condemnation of the “extremist elements within the Tea Party” Breitbart manufactured and posted a video that intentionally misrepresented Ms. Sherrod’s presentation in order to further a larger agenda.
In order to defend the indefensible actions of some in the Tea Party, Breitbart had to create a scenario that would show the NAACP as being racist. He told NBC’s Mara Schiavocampo “We have an NAACP-sanctioned event in which the speaker is talking in a racist narrative, in which the audience, when she refers a white farmer to a white lawyer… and when she talks about not giving him the full weight of what she could do with her position, the audience cheers in this video. That to me is the standard of showing that racism existed in that room.” That’s not out of context; Breitbart is out of his mind!
WATCH RACHEL MADDOW’S COVERAGE OF THE MEDIA AND RACE:
In his famous March 18, 2008 speech on race in Philadelphia, then Senator Obama said American’s must ”…march for a more just, more equal, more free, more caring and more prosperous America.” He was correct then and based on the events of the past few days President Obama needs to speak again. This time not about the comments of Rev. Wright but the actions of the conservative right and their media operatives who’s “comments were not only wrong but divisive, divisive at a time when we need unity; racially charged at a time when we need to come together to solve a set of monumental problems — two wars, a terrorist threat, a falling economy, a chronic health care crisis and potentially devastating climate change; problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.”
On August 10, 2008 The New York Times published an article by Matt Bai entitled Is Obama the End of Black Politics? The premise of the article was that in 2008, 60 years after Strom Thurmond left the Democratic Party over the issue of integrating the armed forces and 45 years after Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream Speech” the Democratic party was poised to deliver its nomination for the nation’s highest office to an African-American, and this some how signaled the end of black politics. Others have talked about a post-racial America. The events of the past few days clearly indicate that race related issues and racism are alive, well, and living in America.
What Breitbart, Tom Tancredo, Sarah Palin, and so many others on the extreme right are playing to is fear. There references may be subtle, their language may be coded but their message is clear. It’s an irrational sense that being “pro-black” is “anti-White”, “pro-me” is “anti-you.” This irrational fear manifests itself as irrational behavior as Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO) were spat upon and called ni**er and Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) was called a fa**ot by members of the Tea Party.
The events of the past few days seem to be a rallying cry for some on the right. This irrational sense and fear has manifested itself in “Rep. Michele Bachmann ’s (R-MN) new 35-member Tea Party caucus”:http://www.thegrio.com/politics/bachmann-tea-party-caucus-not-movement-mouthpiece.php. According to the Boston Herald.com, Bachmann said the caucus will be a “receptacle” for an anti-tax, small-government movement representing “mainstream American people who have decided to get up off the couch because they want to take their country back.”
Receptacle is right.
President Obama and the nation would be well served to meet these issues head on. Senator Obama was correct when he stated, as Americans we are facing “problems that are neither black or white or Latino or Asian, but rather problems that confront us all.” Now that’s what I call the proper context!