I’ve been too busy with paying work to read everything on this kerfuffle. But I see now that the story line has shifted to even people on the right giving Andrew Breitbart blowback for supposedly taking Shirley Sherrod’s comments — as the saying goes — “out of context.” According to a transcript of Sherrod’s comments James Taranto dropped in his “Best of the Web” column at The Wall Street Journal Online the other day, the former Ag official said this:
The first time I was faced with having to help a white farmer save his farm, he took a long time talking, but he was trying to show me he was superior to me. I know what he was doing. But he had come to me for help. What he didn’t know while he was taking all that time trying to show me he was superior to me, was I was trying to decide just how much help I was going to give him.I was struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farmland, and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land. So, I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do. I did enough so that when he–I assumed the Department of Agriculture had sent him to me, either that or the Georgia Department of Agriculture. And he needed to go back and report that I did try to help him.So I took him to a white lawyer that had attended some of the training that we had provided, because Chapter 12 bankruptcy had just been enacted for the family farmer. So I figured if I take him to one of them that his own kind would take care of him.That’s when it was revealed to me that it’s about the poor versus those who have, and not so much about white — it is about white and black, but it’s not — you know, it opened my eyes, because I took him to one of his own.
Now, Taranto thinks Sherrod got a raw deal. Fair enough. However, what’s got me scratching my head about the flak Breitbart’s getting from some on the right is the simple fact that an official in a Republican administration would have been vaporized for saying what Sherrod did. That it was “taken out of context” would not matter.*
Imagine for a minute that an official in the Bush administration at a CPAC convention said:
The first time I was faced with having to help a black farmer save his farm back in 1986, he took a long time talking, but he was trying to show me he was entitled. … What he didn’t know while he was talking all that time trying to show me he was entitled to my help, was I was trying to decide just how much help I was going to give him.I was struggling with the fact that so many white people had lost their farmland, too. And here I was faced with having to help a black person save his land — when my tax dollars were already ensuring the Department of Agriculture was going the extra mile to help him. …So I sent him to an NAACP lawyer … I figured if I take him to one of them that his own kind would take care of him.That’s when it was revealed to me that it’s about the poor versus those who have, and not so much about white — it is about white and black, but it’s not — you know? It opened my eyes, because I took him to one of his own.
I’m with Taranto when he says, “her description of her attitude toward the white farmer is indeed appalling.” And my imaginary speech by a Bush official at a CPAC convention is also appalling. But I have a hard time believing my imaginary narrative would be spun by the MSM as a story of “racial redemption” by the Bush official. I have an easy time imagining the “context” not mattering a whit, and the Bush official being pilloried as having untrustworthy instincts for a government position (at best), and a closet racist (at worst, and most likely).
That’s why I think the “context” of Sherrod’s speech is not really exculpatory. And her insane shouts of “Fox News is lousy with racists!” expose her as a typical hard-left ideologue in this administration, and hardly worth the slack she’s getting — and flak Breitbart is getting — from people on the right.
And, speaking of “context,” no one cared about that when Trent Lott said something off the cuff (clumsily and stupidly) to make a 100-year-old Strom Thurmond smile at a birthday party. Nope. It was spun that Lott was wishing Thurmond was elected president in 1948 — when Lott was 7 years old — so that blacks would still be drinking from separate water fountains.*
This is an absurd double standard, especially in light of the glowing tributes Thurmond’s fellow segregationist Robert C. Byrd received upon his death just weeks ago* — most clumsily by Bill Clinton, who excused Byrd’s membership in the KKK thusly:
He was a country boy from the hills and hollers of West Virginia, he was trying to get elected. And maybe he did something he shouldn’t have done, and he spent the rest of his life making it up. And that’s what a good person does. There are no perfect people. There are certainly no perfect politicians.
Has Sherrod been spending the “rest of her life making it up” when it comes to soothing the racial scars in America? Hardly. She’s milking her firing — which was Obama’s cynical doing — for all she can get, portraying herself as a martyr. And she’s adding to the scars by sliming everyone she can on the right as racists while she basks in her 15 minutes.
Perhaps this incident is actually proof that we’ve come a long way in race relations, as many on the right are saying now. I have my doubts, as does Victor Davis Hanson.
* I’m not going to even dignify this post with an “I’m not a racist and don’t want the South to rise again” disclaimer … but I guess I just did. (Sigh.)