I’ve watched the Shirley Sherrod story unfold from pretty early on, and the thing that strikes me now, after watching the umpteenth talking head panel about how the USDA, NAACP, and the White House rushed to judgment (on ABC’s This Week) is how the man who pulled the pin on this hand grenade, Andrew Breitbart, is being given a near-total pass. The lion’s share of this shit sandwich, meanwhile, is being eaten by the Obama administration and the NAACP. Even Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, despite all evidence to the contrary, has seen his share fed to the administration by virtue of his underling’s bullying name-drop when ordering Shirley to resign. What the fuck is going on?
Let’s look at how this is shaking out for the white people involved here, versus the black. Andrew Breitbart claims not to have known what was on the whole tape, and that assertion is given equal weight to the practical likelihood that he actually did know, and even if he didn’t, the recklessness of posting it anyway gets a shrug. This is the same Andrew Breitbart who flies into an insane rage rather than answer for the racism embedded in his previous exercise in cinema sans verite, the ACORN story.
Tom Vilsack, meanwhile, asserts that the White House had nothing to do with effectively firing Sherrod, and the White House concurs, but they must be lying, right? The black President must be covering his black ass, right?
And the NAACP, who were quick to denounce Sherrod, but just as quickly apologized, should have automatically known that the Andrew Breitbart story was a fake. Unlike Vilsack, who knew Sherrod’s side of the story when he fired her, the NAACP acted (foolishly) in good faith.
And what about Shirley Sherrod? Even after being despicably attacked by Breitbart, and then fired by the head of an agency that has confessed to and been convicted of institutional racism, even though he knew her side of the story, Shirley Sherrod continues to face a media that makes her prove she’s not a racist. Even on This Week this morning, they kicked around a clip of Sherrod, employing a little bit of hyperbole to suggest that Andrew Breitbart isn’t the engine of racial progress, and she’s the one with a race problem. No mention is made of the true intent of her comment, that Breitbart wants to bring back slavery, or its merit. Even after all that’s happened to her, Shirley Sherrod hasn’t earned a little bit of context.
Why, then, is our supposedly bleeding-heart, liberally-biased media going along with this? In a story with the stacking of the deck against black people at its very heart, one that was completely instigated by the actions of two white men (Breitbart by posting the story, Vilsack by firing her), how do they come up with only black villains?
Maybe it’s because there are just as invested in “calling it even” on race as Andrew Breitbart is. They pushed the idea of Obama as a “post-racial” president, and now, they’re wondering where their absolution went. Breitbart is providing white America with reparations for centuries of bad PR, and they’re eating it up.