July 21, 2010

The Sherrod Debacle

Like most of you, I've followed the Shirley Sherrod saga for the past three days. Unlike many pundits, I've been relatively quiet on the matter (except on Twitter).

There are plenty of opinions and mine is certain no more important than any of the others, but I would like to point out a few things.

  • Breitbart claimed context is everything, but then ran the video without much in the way of context
  • Shirley Sherrod did initially act as a racist. She admits that openly in the short video, and more importantly, the NAACP crowd approves of her sentiments
  • The NAACP acted rashly, and condemned Sherrod without knowing the facts
  • The White House acted rashly, and applied force to the USDA immediately, to the point Sherrod was forced to pull her car over and resign via Blackberry

David Frum is bizarrely blaming the conservative media for this trainwreck of a story, even as he cites a number of conservatives (and by no means all) who have condemned this story.

But here are the facts.

Breitbart may have over-reached and be unrepentant, but his sin was still relatively minor. He presented as much of the story as he had, and explained it the best he could based upon the information provided. Was it responsible to run that short video segment without context?

As you consider your response, think about how much news is run without the entire story being known at the outset.

It was the NAACP and USDA, acting under orders from Frum's idle idol in the White House, that over-reacted and pilloried Shirley Sherrod. They demanded her roadside resignation without giving her any chance to defend herself at all.

Now that the full video is up for everyone to watch, we can easily understand why Shirley Sherrod harbors some racism in her heart.

Her father was murdered, and she saw no hope of justice. Another relative was one of many blacks lynched by a corrupt white sheriff. She has every right to be bitter. She has every right to be racist, with that kind of abuse in her background. And undoubtably, her story starts off with that racism blinding her.

Ultimately, though, her story is one of someone seeking redemption. She overcame her racism to help that farmer and is now considered a family friend and hero. But there couldn't be redemption if she wasn't racist to begin with. She overcame it to a large extent, but as the full speech reveals, she isn't a saint, just better equipped to put her racism aside in most instances.

I am convinced, however, that Sherrod wasn't asked to resign over her own comments. I think the NAACP and White House came down on Sherrod as a scapegoat. They could not disciple the NAACP audience for their affirmation of the early part of her story where she admitted her racist feelings. They were terrified of being painted as hypocrites because of their continued attempts to portray Tea Party protesters as racists. They decided to act rashly.

They fired her, purely as an act of political gamesmanship, in hopes of protecting themselves from the backlash. And now, when it appears that that her racism and redemption aren't nearly as as inflammatory as they thought, they're considering asking her back... and looking like fools in the process.

She isn't sure she wants to be back. Can you blame her?

No one involved comes out of this looking good. Everyone involved made mistakes.

Hopefully, we can all learn a lesson here, about waiting for the full story to be revealed before rushing to judgement.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at July 21, 2010 12:21 PM

Mistakes and consequences. Just like real life.
The NAACP has long been recognized as racist for anyone who has eyes and ears. My lady is a black woman and she can see them as self serving, ineffective racists out for the dollar and not for the people. I can tell you that her family and I do have some strong political debates. It is always best to avoid the subject of politics around me. I am of a mind clear it all out and start over until we can get it right.

Posted by: Odins Acolyte at July 21, 2010 01:04 PM

I'm still waiting for so much good will, honest effort, abject humility, heartfelt remorse and heartwarming redemption amongst the white population to be received by the Black community.

Plenty of whites have NEVER been racists, but the "don't trust whitey" crowd cannot be moved to nod in agreement to admit their own prejudices and inability to judge their fellow man only by his character. It's not EVEN about poor and rich, black and white. It's STILL about power, and how to abuse it for your own ends.

Posted by: Joan of Argghh! at July 21, 2010 01:26 PM

The Anchoress does however look rather good (quite perceptive). On Monday, July 19th, She originally wrote:

"I want to know. Because it seemed like Sherrod was heading somewhere with that story, and the edit does not let us get there. I want the rest of the story before I start passing judgment on it.

This damned, cancerous issue of race is never going to get behind us if game-playing such as Sherrod describes continues. But it also won’t get behind us if resentment is going to be sowed for any sort of expediency, by anyone – not by the NAACP, not by congressional theatrics and not by center-right conservatives, no matter how fed up they’re becoming with what seems, increasingly, to be a government that selects its constituency, rather than the other way around.

I want to see the rest of the tape. I cannot believe Sherrod ended on “I took him to one of his own.” Either she said something much worse after that (which we would have seen) or she said something much better.

If it was something “better” then we should have seen that, too."

Posted by: Mike O'Malley at July 21, 2010 01:28 PM

The racist crowd laughed when she delivered her punchline. I heard it plain as day.

Posted by: brando at July 21, 2010 01:31 PM

David Frum is bizarrely blaming the conservative media for this trainwreck of a story

Take the opposite position to Frum and you'll always be right.

"Trainwreck of a story"?

Breitbart claimed context is everything, but then ran the video without much in the way of context

What context is needed to notice the NAACP members cheering racist sentiments?

Posted by: flenser at July 21, 2010 01:39 PM

"we can easily understand why Shirley Sherrod harbors some racism in her heart" NO, 'WE' can't.

I am sympathetic to her and her family history, it may explain her racism but doesn't justify it.
Does losing someone on 9/11 in the WTC bombing, knowing the killers were Muslim and the planners won't be brought to justice, justify hatred of all Muslims? We are told daily it does not. What about my friend who was murdered by a black man? Is his family justified in their racism? What if I mentioned the family in question is Black not White, what then? I can go on but I asssume you get the point.

Many of us have embraced/been indoctrinated with (?) the idea that, no matter how horrible an act committed by a someone, to condem an entire race for the act is WRONG. It really is a black and white issue, i mean right vs wrong.

Posted by: Overdeveloped sense of fairness at July 21, 2010 01:55 PM

What seems to have happened if we take all the evidence at face value, is Sherrod took an actual incident and embellished it in a way to ingratiate her to her audience, and it did. But in today's controversy I don't really care what was actually in her heart. It is time that blacks and Democrats were treated the same as the rest of us: presumed racist until proven innocent before a Leftwing black jury. Until that state of affairs changes I will operate on the demonstrated rules of the game.

Posted by: megapotamus at July 21, 2010 02:22 PM

Well done. You waited until seeing the entire tape b4 spouting off. Lots of people didn't wait till the end of the story -- including the audience!

By the way, Bob. Your email link takes me to a generic sign up page for gmail....and somebody spammed your "About CY page."

(I want to get in touch w/you.)

Posted by: Dave Alexander at July 21, 2010 04:32 PM

Hmmm. It's my impression, perhaps mistaken to some degree, that the thrust of Brietbart's point was exposing racism within the NAACP, an organization tossing about unfounded accusations of racism regarding the Tea Parties, which are anything but a nationally organized, cohesive, monolithic organization. In that context, the video clip that Brietbart showed clearly made that point, a point that was not colored, so to speak, because Sherrod's entire speech was not included. This is particularly so in that the NAACP's president was apparently in attendance. Again, please correct me if I am wrong, but he did not demand Ms. Sherrod's resignation, nor was she the primary point, which was, again, the favorable reaction of the NAACP crowd to a black person in a position of power wrongly misusing her power and position to harm someone of another race. That Ms. Sherrod may have eventually done her duty regarding that person (apparently the only source for this assertion is Ms. Sherrod. Are we sure this is true?) does not change her simply wrong comments, and it surely does not change the nature of the reaction of the NAACP members in attendance.

Father murdered? Relative lynched by a racist white sheriff? That's a potentially convenient stereotypical racial narrative, particularly considering the present circumstances. If true it is horrendous and repugnant and one can only hope there is a special place in Hell reserved for those involved after they die in prison. However, are we sure that this actually happened?

Regarding the functionaries of the Obama administration. As usual: Idiots. One does not, in any agency or business, immediately leap to conclusions and fire people based on media reports. Ms. Sherrod, though potentially a racist regardless of the current state of her repentance, certainly deserves the benefit of the doubt unless and until an offense legitimately worthy of her firing has been clearly and convincingly established. One may hold all manner of personal beliefs and feelings that might shock others, but the standard where one's occupation is involved is whether one behaved and performed properly. She deserves due process and the government that was more than willing to extend the benefit of the doubt to Black Panthers who were clearly guilty, were not willing to do the same for her. Again: Idiots.

Posted by: mikemcdaniel at July 21, 2010 08:01 PM

No, no rehire. No apology. She, as a "person of power", and with a black president, or at least half black, should just live with it. How many white guys have been tossed without ever getting a chance to even explain. Besides, this whole thing sounds like a scam from the getgo.

Let em' feel important enough to be crushed by teh stupids. No rehire. As if what I say matters, but.

Posted by: Doom at July 21, 2010 10:01 PM

CY I'm a little confused. Did Breitbart edit the tape and then release it, or did he only ever have the edited tape.

Posted by: Jim at July 21, 2010 11:03 PM

Hi Jim,

Breitbart was given two excerpts of the film, and posted everything he had.

Posted by: Confederate Yankee at July 22, 2010 12:11 AM

Thanks CY.

Posted by: Jim at July 22, 2010 12:28 AM

I saw Brietbat being interviewed yesterday, during which he claimed to have acquired the two videos back in April. It wasn't until the NAACP issued their resolution against the Tea Party that he decided to release the videos to show how racist their members are. He claimed the release was not a condemnaiton of Sherrod, but of the NAACP and its members.

Tarheel Repub Out!

Posted by: Tarheel Repub at July 22, 2010 06:41 AM
Hopefully, we can all learn a lesson here, about waiting for the full story to be revealed before rushing to judgement.

You didn't wait to see the Journolist emails in context before writing two long posts condemning their authors of a capital crime. Perhaps you should have waited until you could read the full exchange(s) instead of cherry picked quotes

Posted by: Jim at July 22, 2010 01:50 PM

No one is talking much, or at all about the source of the videos.

1. Andrew ran both videos in their entirety as he received them.

2. Whoever SHOT those videos had to have been visible to everyone in the room, and thus had permission to be shooting.

3. Whoever EDITED the videos almost certainly knew, or was the person who shot them.

4. Whoever SENT them to Andrew almost certainly knew he person who edited them, or was the person who edited them.

Posted by: Bill Smith at July 22, 2010 09:26 PM

I saw a post today that they were shot by C-SPAN

Posted by: Neo at July 23, 2010 12:01 AM