Last week was a surprisingly good moment for American politics. It was the week that, through a confluence of bizarre and unlikely events, the vicious act of falsely accusing people of racism became a laughingstock. It went from being a career killer to a punch line; from villainy to vaudeville; from knife in the back to pie in the face.
It starts about noon Monday, June 19, when Andrew Breitbart publishes on his website an edited video of Shirley Sherrod (giving a speech to an NAACP audience this spring) that he recounts, in part, thusly: "Sherrod describes how she racially discriminates against a white farmer. She describes how she is torn over how much she will choose to help him. And, she admits that she doesn't do everything she can for him, because he is white. Eventually, her basic humanity informs that this white man is poor and needs help. But she decides that he should get help from 'one of his own kind.'
"She refers him to a white lawyer. Sherrod's racist tale is received by the NAACP audience with nodding approval and murmurs of recognition and agreement."
The week before, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, without evidence, had attacked the Tea Parties for alleged racism in their rank and file. This is part of a running smear now about a year old, by prominent Democrats such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer and legions of Democratic Party support groups that the Tea Party (now identified with by about a third of the country) is racist, Nazi, un-American, etc.
Mr. Breitbart strikes back, with evidence (in the form of the video of the audience reaction to the moment in the Sherrod speech before she talks of racial reconciliation) demonstrating anti-white racism in a NAACP audience. The story of the week is thus launched.
Notice, by the way, that he alerts the viewer, "Eventually, her basic humanity informs that this white man is poor and needs help." It's in the video, and it is in the text of Mr. Breitbart's original post on the topic. Yet the mainstream media selectively edits out this exonerating fact in virtually every story about Mr. Breitbart. So the subsequent charge against Mr. Breitbart by the mainstream media that his editing was misleading is itself misleading and wrong.
In a seemingly unrelated story just after midnight Tuesday morning, July 20, Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller reports on leaked e-mails from the liberal media cabal Journolist in which, when the issue of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright first emerged during the 2008 presidential campaign, one of the participating liberal journalists, Spencer Ackerman, proposed defending Barack Obama by using a racial smear tactic:
"If the right forces us all to either defend Wright or tear him down, no matter what we choose, we lose the game they've put upon us. Instead, take one of them - Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares - and call them racists. Ask: why do they have such a deep-seated problem with a black politician who unites the country? What lurks behind those problems? This makes them sputter with rage, which in turn leads to overreaction and self-destruction."
At last we have the smoking gun that proves to the American public that at least some liberal reporters are quite prepared to make false charges of racism to advance their liberal political agenda - and to conspire with other like-minded character-assassin journalists in doing so.
So far, there are just two website stories. But then, the White House panics and turns a couple of - until then - minor Web stories into one of the worst political weeks for any White House since Richard Nixon's many sad examples of terrible political weeks in 1974.
According to Mrs. Sherrod, she is forced to resign her post at the Department of Agriculture immediately under pressure from the White House, which was afraid that Glenn Beck was about to report the story of her NAACP speech. (In the Obama version of Franklin D. Roosevelt's immortal words, "The only thing we have to fear is the Glenn Beck Show itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance.")
The compliant NAACP then itself apologizes. The next day, more of Mrs. Sherrod's speech becomes available, in which she describes how she overcame that first instinct of racial bigotry three decades ago and helped out the white farmer. The white farmer's wife then goes on CNN and says what a nice and helpful lady Mrs. Sherrod is.
The White House panics again and instructs the secretary of agriculture to apologize and offer Mrs. Sherrod's job back to her. The NAACP withdraws its apology and says it was "snookered" by Mr. Breitbart (even though the speech was given at an NAACP event with a roomful of its own members available to set the record straight).
Then some more of Mrs. Sherrod's speech - after the reconciliation-of-the-races section - is made available and includes the following sentences: "I haven't seen such a mean-spirited people as I've seen lately over this issue of health care. [Murmurs of agreement.] Some of the racism we thought was buried - [someone in the audience says, "It surfaced!"]. Didn't it surface? Now, we endured eight years of the Bushes and we didn't do the stuff these Republicans are doing because you have a black president. [Applause]" (text courtesy of National Review).
In other words, she is accusing up to 70 million Americans (registered Republican voters) of opposing Obamacare because the president is black - rather than because we disagree with the policy, as we did with Hillarycare in 1994. That is a broad-brush, bigoted attitude by Mrs. Sherrod against all of us who opposed the president's health care policy. She implicitly accuses all 70 million of us of being racist.
Then Mrs. Sherrod goes on CNN with Anderson Cooper and says she thinks Andrew Breitbart wants America to return to slavery for the blacks. And that is the last presentation of Mrs. Sherrod live and unedited that mainstream television seems to want to make. After dominating the news for the week, the eloquent Mrs. Sherrod is not invited to a single Sunday show.
Unfortunately, playing the race card is typical in American politics. In different seasons, it has been played by both political parties. It is always ugly. But it is the rank cynicism of the maneuver that was revealed to all last week. Significantly, it may be the black community (along with well-meaning white liberals) who will be most shocked at how indifferent the Democratic Party is to the due-process rights of a black employee when the race card is wild and party interests are on the line.
Tony Blankley is the author of "American Grit: What It Will Take to Survive and Win in the 21st Century" (Regnery, 2009) and vice president of the Edelman public relations firm in Washington.
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'Your papers, please' must never be heard in America
By Susan Crabtree - The Washington Times
President Obama forgot to return the salute of a U.S. Marine while boarding Marine One Friday morning, then came back out to shake the Marine’s hand, according to a tweet by CBS News’ Mark Knoller.