PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A conservative blogger at the center of a controversy over the forced resignation of a black federal employee said Saturday the election of President Barack Obama has not improved the country’s discourse on race.
“It is my belief that President Obama promised, tacitly, to be a post-racial candidate, and it is sad to say that he hasn’t,” Andrew Breitbart said at a news conference before his appearance at a “Uni-Tea: United Tea Party For All Communities.”
Breitbart accused the president of engaging in a “proxy warfare plan” using the media, Hollywood and lawmakers Breitbart accused of having made false charges of racism during the health care debate as well as the NAACP’s recent call on tea party groups to disavow “racist elements.”
“There is a strong desire to create false information … because that’s how desperate this strategy is,” he said. “The president is a strong enough person who could tell the NAACP not to be doing this, that it’s unhelpful to the country to spend six days on national TV to effectively ask the tea party ‘When did you stop beating your wife?’”
Breitbart’s website BigGovernment.com posted a 2½-minute video clip of Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod’s speech to a Georgia NAACP banquet, saying it showed that the NAACP condones racist elements, just what the civil rights group accuses the tea party movement of doing.
Sherrod was forced to resign, although the full speech showed that she was talking about racial unity and redemption — about how she came to learn that whites were struggling just like so many blacks she knew. Sherrod has said she plans to sue Breitbart.
Obama has told Sherrod he regretted her forced resignation and asked her to consider coming back.
Breitbart declined to comment Saturday on Sherrod’s resignation, saying his appearance at the tea party rally was arranged far in advance. In a previous interview with Newsweek, he said he would like to meet privately with Sherrod and “should have waited for the full video.”
Still, he insisted Saturday there had been a campaign to accuse tea party members of racism.
“There’s been a concerted effort to portray the tea party as a toxic body of water,” Breitbart said. “When I see good people who are Hispanic or gay or black who are in these groups, and the mainstream media abides by a concerted attack to call those people traitors to their cause, I’m going to stand up to those bullies. That is my motivation. It has been my motivation since I switched from the left to the right when I watched the Clarence Thomas hearings.”
At the rally attended by about 300 people, mostly black and Hispanic as well as some white speakers sounded the groups’ themes of limited government and spending restraint — as well as mistrust of mainstream news organizations. Breitbart told the crowd to hold up their cameras to demonstrate that members were watching news organizations “because we don’t trust you.”
Breitbart said he thought the national principle E Pluribus Unum (Out of the Many One) had been lost in the last generation.
“We have to be one,” he said. “We can be many, we can be the sum of our parts, but we cannot abide by this dividing people into every different race and every different sexual orientation and poke and prod these people … every electoral cycle in order to get them to vote for the Democratic party. It’s cynical politics.”
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press.