The Lynching of Shirley Sherrod

Hunted and skinned by the right-wing propaganda machine

Now this is what a hi-tech lynching for uppity Blacks looks like!

Shirley Sherrod, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) state director of rural development in Georgia became a viral sensation when a video of her speaking to the NAACP in March making bigoted remarks about a White farmer whom had come to her for help 24 years earlier.   The video which depicted about two minutes from a 30-minute speech spread through the right-wing blogosphere, talk radio and Fox News.   Sherrod was forced by USDA officials to submit her resignation.

Does this latest obvious, and failed attempt at moral equivalency and media manipulation by Andrew Breitbart and Fox News means the New Black Panther Party voter intimidation “outrage” is starting to lose steam?

All this drama from an obviously heavily edited video that’s not even time-stamped? Where’s the full video and why hasn’t Breitbart released it?

No credit to Cheryl Cook, the USDA undersecretary who demand Sherrod’s resignation or Tom  Vilsack, the cowardly Obama Administration officials whom ousted Sherrod without so much as a hearing.  The NAACP didn’t cover themselves in glory either by issuing a late apology for an incident that occurred in March.  Both parties rushed to judgment no doubt heightened by the highly charged political season looming even nearer and cravenly threw Sherrod to the yelping right-wing wolves.

The NAACP later backtracked from their condemnation of Sherrod saying they had been “snookered” by Breitbart.

“Having reviewed the full tape, spoken to Ms. Sherrod, and most importantly heard the testimony of the white farmers mentioned in this story, we now believe the organization that edited the documents did so with the intention of deceiving millions of Americans,” NAACP President Ben Jealous said in a statement. “The tape of Ms. Sherrod’s speech at an NAACP banquet was deliberately edited to create a false impression of racial bias, and to create a controversy where none existed. This just shows the lengths to which extremist elements will go to discredit legitimate opposition.”

But Agriculture Secretary Vilsack refused to reconsider Sherrod’s dismissal.

“First, for the past 18 months, we have been working to turn the page on the sordid civil rights record at USDA and this controversy could make it more difficult to move forward on correcting injustices,” Vilsack said. “Second, state rural development directors make many decisions and are often called to use their discretion. The controversy surrounding her comments would create situations where her decisions, rightly or wrongly, would be called into question making it difficult for her to bring jobs to Georgia.”

Real profile in courage there, Secretary Vilsack. The President should step up and overrule Vilsack by reinstating Sherrod.   News reports indicate Vilsack is “reconsidering” reinstating Sherrod.

It hardly absolves the obvious media manipulation by Andy Brieitbart or those who perpetuate his propaganda.  He appears to be far more skilled in slicing up videotape to serve a partisan agenda than presenting a honest retelling of events.

Andrew Breitbart: An Unreasonable Man

Just to be clear here, the proper term for what Brietbart has done is not “editing,” but “doctoring”  the video.   “Editing” is the proper term when footage is trimmed for time restraints, to cut extraneous material or to get to the point faster.

This was a “doctored” video and Breitbart deliberately cut it at the point where Sherrod says she had realized the error of her ways and needed to see the farmer as a person in need of help and not a White man.   The wall between news and newspeak has been breached. Mr. Orwell would be very proud of Mr. Breitbart.

Poor Shirley Sherrod. Sacrificed on the altar of the right-wing media machine’s clumsy and overt effort to scrub the Tea Party’s tolerance for racism by attempting to smear the NAACP as hypocrites.

What’s the long-term lesson to be learned from this relatively trivial story that will be a one or two-day “controversy” with no long-term impact except for the damage to Sherrod’s career?

That the Right will dig up and blow up any minor incident into a national disgrace and if that includes doctoring a video tape to eliminate the bureaucrat nobody’s heard of before following up her “controversial” and “racist” remarks that’s okay even though she said she had seen the error of her ways and not only helped the farmer, but is now regarded as a friend?

…or that like birds carrying off bread crumbs there will always be those eager to take a deliberately doctored video, falsely pronounce someone a “racist” when there is no proof of it, and preen hypocritically how they absolutely abhor racism except when it serves their own interests.

…or that the Obama Administration is so hyper-sensitive to even a whiff of “reverse-racism” that they will swiftly and with extreme prejudice force the offending bureaucrat out of a job without so much as a “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out” thus reinforcing the “Obama throws another under the bus” meme?

…or that when all is said and done at the end of the day the plight of the farmer is a subject nobody really gives a damn about. Except for Shirley Sherrod and all the other previously faceless bureaucrats being slimed by a slick operator like Andrew Breitbart?