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Boo hoo once more at the absurd claim that white folks are seemingly the newest victims of discrimination and racism in America...

Did you know that white people are oppressed in America? That the NAACP is a "racist" organization? And that white people, in particular white Conservatives, routinely suffer grievous discrimination in these United States at the hands of the Obama administration? I didn’t until I started watching Fox News and listening to Right-wing talk radio.

It would seem that the voice of a few, amplified by a 24 hour Right wing propaganda machine, can indeed make a mountain out of a molehill. Here, Fox News can magnify caricatures such as the New Black Panther Party into perpetrators of high crimes and misdemeanors. Limbaugh et al. can reframe the NAACP as being a hate organization. And if one were to listen to Glenn Beck, there is a grand conspiracy against "ordinary" "hard-working" White Americans that only he (as the rechristened Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.) can save them from. In this long hot summer of race baiting by conservatives, we can add the bullying and subsequent resignation of Shirley Sherrod, a "racist" USDA official, to the list of the Right's short-term triumphs as they fight for a truly "colorblind" America.

Unfortunately, as long as it continues to pay dividends in the form of low hanging fruit, the news frame of white conservative victimology will predominate for the foreseeable future--where it serves as a distraction from the real issues imperiling our country's future.

Nuance and context were slain long ago by opinion based journalism and the rise of the 24 hour news cycle. There is no longer room for the delicate, for facts, or details that would suggest a news item is not as sensational as it would first appear. In the case of Shirley Sherrod, a person's career is now over precisely because of how race has become a spectacle, and the media replay a thin and tired narrative, one more than a century old, where white folks are portrayed as the real victims of racial discrimination in America.

I must ask a provocative question: What did Shirley Sherrod do that was so wrong? If one does some research, they would easily discover that she actually assisted a white farmer who had come to her seeking aid. Moreover, the moral of her speech, presented in heavily edited fashion by Fox News, was how class actually unites us, and where race is an illusion that separates folks of common concern and interest.

Let's be frank. As a practical matter, Shirley Sherrod was a bureaucrat faced with a condescending, quite likely embarrassed white farmer who had to ask a black woman (of all people, the horror...an experience that my fellow members of the coloured professional classes can certainly relate to) for assistance. She chose to offer the white farmer help, initially not going beyond the call of duty--but rendering the required amount of assistance--and also referred him to legal counsel. We may disagree about the level of professionalism she demonstrated in that first encounter, but once more how does a choice, one made some two decades before (and since resolved positively) reveal anything about Shirley Sherrod in the present?

To point. One more inconvenient data point excluded by the Right-Wing echo chamber in their witch hunt for Shirley Sherrod: the family of the white farmer in question has come out in her defense and praised the assistance she has given them over the years.

Most troubling is how context and history will be reimagined in this moment. The USDA has a long history of discrimination against black and female farmers. In fact, they settled a billion dollar lawsuit to make amends for the persistent harm done to farmers of color and women by that bureau's racist and sexist policies. Given the myopia and selective memory common to the Right and enabled by its media machine, one story of a black bureaucrat's choice to help a white farmer (and do not forget that she actually assisted him) will become the dominant, uncontested narrative, as opposed to the real racism and sexism--structural, persistent inequality and disadvantage--experienced by the plaintiffs who sued the USDA.

There is also a powerful irony in the Right wing's discovery of white victimhood. Beyond the absurd claims of anti-white racism or "reverse discrimination" (two examples of Orwellian new speak that are in fact oxymorons) the very people screaming the loudest about anti-white bigotry are the same people that consistently dismissed claims of prima facie racism against people of color. Racial minorities were told to "get over it," that they were imagining things. "So what if there is racism just work harder and stop complaining." Or my favorite, that black and brown folks should "stop playing the race card."

Funny, it seems that white conservatives have rediscovered their religion. Its name? The politics of grievance and identity. Born of Jim Crow and slavery, it was refined as Nixon's Southern strategy, used by Reagan and Bush, and was the patina and timbre of the McCain Palin campaign against Barack Obama. I wonder though, why doesn't the Right, and its aggrieved white membership, follow the same advice that they so generously gave to others?

And ultimately one must ask the obvious: If the roles were reversed, and a white bureaucrat made the same choices about a black farmer, how would the Right twist themselves into a knot defending him or her?

Originally posted to chaunceydevega on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 03:31 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Yawn, the silly summer season is upon us.... (0+ / 0-)

    at wonderful lazy hazy time when the media has nothing better to do so they just manufacture news.  More so then before that is.

    I'm sure there will be more utter idiocy over the next couple months and no shortage of bloggers around here echoing it and thus helping the reich wing media accomplish their goals.

  •  Has the Congress and all those R legislators (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    lgmcp, FiredUpInCA

    ever gotten around to authorizing payment of that billion dollar judgement? I don't remember that they have although I would love to be wrong.

  •  Many Years Ago I Had A Boss Say To Me (0+ / 0-)

    It is easier to tear something down then to build it up. Stop bitching and start building.

    I am as white as you can get. It would take somebody IMHO with no clue not to realize that works for me. It is helpful to say the least. I don't think it should be, but alas it is.

    "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

    by webranding on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 03:38:57 PM PDT

  •  I am ashamed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    webranding, lgmcp

    at fellow members of my race. We should be working to knock down barriers of understanding not building them back up. What Rush et al are doing is dangerous for the state of race relations in this country.

    You're watching Fox News. OH MY GOD--LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU

    by rexymeteorite on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 03:40:28 PM PDT

    •  all I can do is ::facepalm:: and move on n/t (0+ / 0-)

      You're watching Fox News. OH MY GOD--LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU

      by rexymeteorite on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 03:44:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Amen There Brother (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Major Tom, rexymeteorite

      amen. I am both ashamed and embarrassed. There is something I always say. I am 41. I hope to live another 40 or 50 years. In that time as a white dude I might not be in the majority anymore. I kind of hope that the minorities treat me better then they were treated. Just saying.

      "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." - George Orwell

      by webranding on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 03:47:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I know where your heart is and I appreciate it (5+ / 0-)

      but do not take on shame that isn't yours to take. You do not believe or behave as they do. You owe me no apology for being born as you were, just as I owe no one an apology for every dumbass thing another black person does. Continue to be the change you want to see as the expression goes, but don't take ownership of their assholery.

      Our real adversaries are not each other

      by Vita Brevis on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 03:52:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  thank you Vita (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Vita Brevis, FiredUpInCA

        believe it or not, that means a lot to me...

        You're watching Fox News. OH MY GOD--LOOK OUT BEHIND YOU

        by rexymeteorite on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 03:53:18 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Chris Matthews of all people (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Vita Brevis

          really crystallized what Breitbart did.

          He took a moment of sincere racial reconciliation and attempted to twist it into proof of racial retaliation against a disenfranchised white person.

          That is beyond sick. He turned Sherrod into a target. Breitbart is a sick, race-obsessed, petty, bitter, man.

          Breitbart's "strategy" is to "deprive" people of the "information" needed to evaluate his allegations. A September 24 Washington Independent article about Breitbart's release of the ACORN tapes reported [emphasis added]:

             Within hours, Breitbart was doing interviews with reporters who wanted to know how, exactly, the story had come about, and why Big Government was releasing the videos and the identity of the muckrackers -- 25-year-old James O'Keefe III and 20-year-old Hannah Giles -- so slowly.

             "It was strategized," Breitbart told TWI this week, so "that they would be deprived of the type of information that a defense attorney would try to gather in order to create a defense."

             Who were "these people?" They were not just the leaders or members of ACORN itself. "They" were the Democratic Party, the White House, the progressive Center for American Progress and its president John Podesta. The "Democrat-media complex" is Breitbart's name for the whole apparatus. "We deprived them of information," Breitbart explained, "so that they couldn't come up with a vile, kill-the-messenger attack with the media doing the groundwork for them."

          http://mediamatters.org/...

          This is the man that has pushed edited videos to make it appear schoolchildren were singing praises to Obama, that community organizers were praying to Obama, that made it appear that ACORN reps were advising a pimp and prostitute on how to engage in criminal activity.

          He is the worst of what America has to offer, an intelligent, connected manipulator who uses his "talents" to provoke racial animosity.

  •  She didn't do anything wrong, really (0+ / 0-)

    The incident she described was not even in her capacity as a public official. It was 25 years ago when she was with a nonprofit organization. The speech she gave at the NAACP banquet, ironically, mentioned that incident only to say that she learned from her biases and transcended them . . . long ago.

    So, she was falsely accused of racism . . . and then paid the price because it was really about politics, and the White House and the NAACP both overreacted.

    It really sucks to be falsely accused of racism, when it's really just about politics, doesn't it? That should never, ever happen. Not to her, not the Tea Party.

  •  Why attack the farmer? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Cilia Moss

    Let's be frank. As a practical matter, Shirley Sherrod was a bureaucrat faced with a condescending, quite likely embarrassed white farmer who had to ask a black woman (of all people, the horror...an experience that my fellow members of the coloured professional classes can certainly relate to) for assistance.

    Why would you insinuate that the farmer was racially biased?  By all accounts, he and his wife became friendly with Sherrod.

    I must ask a provocative question: What did Shirley Sherrod do that was so wrong?

    Try as you may, but that's certainly not a provocative question in any liberal-leaning forum.

    Funny, it seems that white conservatives have rediscovered their religion. Its name? The politics of grievance and identity.

    Rediscover implies it was once lost.  

  •  That's not defensible. (0+ / 0-)

    And ultimately one must ask the obvious: If the roles were reversed, and a white bureaucrat made the same choices about a black farmer, how would the Right twist themselves into a knot defending him or her?

    Strength of character does not consist solely in having powerful feelings, but in maintaining one's balance in spite of them. - Clausewitz

    by SpamNunn on Tue Jul 20, 2010 at 04:12:49 PM PDT

  •  What is the issue? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dtruth

    I found what looks like the background story over at Huffington Post.

    Now, if my redneck ass understands this correctly, Ms. Sherrod related a story of initially making an emotion-based mistake, reflecting on and understanding the wrongness of her actions, and then making it right.  Further, she took a large personal risk in relating her story as a cautionary tale that everyone of us, regardless of color, should take to heart.

    I call that leadership.  The nation needs a few more of her in its employ, not a few less.

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