The Racism Monster Eats Its Young 1

The saga of Shirley Sherrod's "racism" has shaken American politics to its core.

By now, most Scragged readers know of the controversy involving Shirley Sherrod and her speech at a NAACP meeting.  To summarize:

  • Ms. Sherrod is a black 62-year-old who worked for the USDA in rural Georgia.
  • She gave an address at a NAACP meeting on March 27 in which she stated that 24 years ago, she had failed to help a white farmer as much as she could have for reasons involving race.  The audience applauded and cheered as she recounted her racist actions towards this farmer.
  • A 2.5 minute clip containing just that part of her 45 minute speech was posted by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart; he says that's the only part of the video he had.
  • The video touched off a viral firestorm of criticism all across the land.  People who were utterly shocked that a government official would openly admit to racism and be applauded by a large audience.
  • In reaction, the NAACP, of all organizations, called for her to be fired.
  • Tom Vilsac, the cabinet-level Secretary of Agriculture who overseas the USDA, forced her to resign from her job, reportedly after hearing she'd be on Glenn Beck's TV show the following night, a rumor which happened not to be true.  Ms. Sherrod claims that she was told that the White House wanted her to resign her job.
  • Then the entire 45 minute speech suddenly appeared on the web, showing that Ms Sherrod had used her story of racism as an example of what not to do.  The video is still shocking given that the NAACP audience applauded the racist bits, but Ms Sherrod's speech as a whole was aimed against racism - she was more in the position of a repentant sinner pleading for others to follow her path away from sin.
  • The NAACP abruptly reversed its position and called for her to get her job back.
  • She had a seven minute telephone call from President Obama who said she shouldn't have been fired.  The Secretary of Agriculture apologized for firing her and begged her to return to work; thus far, she's understandably declined.

Those of us who've been following racial politics for a long time have known that essentially all blacks and most liberals have been extremely tolerant of black people discriminating against white people and even of black criminals attacking white people.  The disproportionate amount of black-on-white violent crime as compared to almost-nonexistent white-on-black violent crime has simply been swept under the rug along with a host of other anti-white actions.

Helping Blacks or Hurting Whites

NAACP stands for "National Association for the Advancement of Colored People;" they plainly intend to discriminate in favor of colored people on the basis of race.  It's both possible and highly laudable to advance colored people by encouraging them to get a good education, helping them start businesses, and otherwise giving them a hand up.  Encouraging colored people to be all they can be doesn't have to translate into attacking white people.

Unfortunately, today's NAACP has chosen the latter course.  Rather than encouraging income to be earned by the hard personal work of its members, the NAACP has long favored income transfer, welfare payments, and affirmative action, where white people are treated worse than similarly-qualified black people.

The NAACP has clung to this overtly racist policy even though affirmative action hurts black people as much or more than it hurts whites.  Being treated unfairly makes white people who otherwise wouldn't be racists see blacks in an unfavorable light and opens any black to the suspicion that he or she isn't really qualified.  The NAACP also accuses police of racial bias when they lock up more black people than white people even though black people commit far more crimes per capita than white people.

Unfortunately for social stability, various groups have been fanning the flames of racial hatred in order to gain political power.  Conservatives blame Democrats for encouraging black people to see themselves as victims who have to vote for Democrats to keep welfare payments coming.  Bob Herbert, a liberal New York Times columnist, accuses conservatives of exaggerating racial incidents to encourage whites to vote against Democrats:

While racial discrimination is overwhelmingly directed against black people in the U.S., much of the nation and the media are poised to go berserk over the most specious allegations of racism against whites.

Where's this guy been for the last 20 years?  What is affirmative action but government-sponsored racial discrimination directed against whites?  Hasn't he heard of the Congressional Black Caucus, a group of members of the US Congress who happen to be both black and Democrat?  If the Black Caucus refusing to admit non-blacks who represent overwhelmingly black districts isn't anti-white racism, what is?

To be fair to Mr. Herbert, he pointed out that the Obama administration had acted despicably in firing Ms. Sherrod without listening to her side or getting all the facts:

The Shirley Sherrod story tells us so much about ourselves, and none of it is pretty. The most obvious and shameful fact is that the Obama administration, which runs from race issues the way thoroughbreds bolt from the starting gate, did not offer this woman anything resembling fair or respectful treatment before firing and publicly humiliating her.

Only too true; as far as Ms. Sherrod is concerned, Mr. Herbert hit the nail on the head.  Long sad experience, alas, tells us that he'd have approved of a white person being summarily sacked under similar circumstances.

Hopeful Signs

This incident is the latest in a series which suggests that the tide of false racism accusations may be beginning to turn.

The Washington Times reports racial bias within the Obama administration by citing former Justice Department lawyer J. Christian Adams statement under oath that, in Eric Holder's Justice Department,

"There is an open hostility to race-neutral enforcement of the voting rights laws," he stated. Officials, he said, openly refuse to bring "cases against black perpetrators [on behalf of white voters]."

The Times also admitted that affirmative action programs for admitting less-qualified blacks to colleges has hurt whites:

Last year, two Princeton sociologists, Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford, published a book-length study of admissions and affirmative action at eight highly selective colleges and universities. Unsurprisingly, they found that the admissions process seemed to favor black and Hispanic applicants, while whites and Asians needed higher grades and SAT scores to get in. But what was striking, as Russell K. Nieli pointed out last week on the conservative Web site Minding the Campus, was which whites were most disadvantaged by the process: the downscale, the rural and the working-class.

This may be a money-saving tactic. In a footnote, Espenshade and Radford suggest that these institutions, conscious of their mandate to be multiethnic, may reserve their financial aid dollars "for students who will help them look good on their numbers of minority students," leaving little room to admit financially strapped whites.

The most underrepresented groups on elite campuses often aren't racial minorities; they're working-class whites (and white Christians in particular) from conservative states and regions.  [emphasis added]

It's hard to decide what represents the bigger change in writing about anti-white racism: the fact that Princeton would publish a book which pointed out the unfairness of government mandates to favor blacks over whites or the fact that the Times would write about the book at all.

The Times isn't the only major paper to subtly shift its reporting policies.  The front-page story "For racial politics, a new twist" in USA Today of July 22 listed a number of racially-biased actions by the Obama administration:

  • The White House had to convene a "beer summit" between a white cop and a black Harvard professor after Mr. Obama had said the cops were "acting stupid" before getting any information about the incident.
  • Mr. Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court despite her racist statement that wise Latina would make a better judge than a white man.
  • Mr. Obama hasn't criticized members of his party who make blanket accusations that the Tea Party activists and anyone else who doesn't like Mr. Obama's economic policies are racists.
  • Mr. Obama's Justice Department dropped well-documented charges against a group of Black Panthers who intimidated white voters during the 2008 election while calling for the murder of their children.

Ponder how these incidents would have been treated had they occurred during the Bush administration even if the races hadn't been reversed.  They aren't current news in that they mostly happened some time ago, but the fact that USA Today would portray a pattern by putting them in a list is an indication of how much the atmosphere has changed.

It's taken longer than we thought it would, but the media are finally beginning to criticize the actions of our most overtly racist administration since before Abraham Lincoln.

Covering For Black Criminals

The mainstream media have been pussyfooting about the race of criminals for decades.  The recent New York Times article about the "sleeper killer" neglected to mention the detail that both the killer and most of his victims were black, but the race of white criminals is just about always mentioned explicitly.

Ordinary citizens caught on long ago.  The New York Times 1993 article about a man who fired more than 30 shots in a Long Island Railroad train and killed seven people didn't mention his race, but people weren't fooled.  I have a friend who remembers discussing the incident as the news spread.  "It's got to be a black man." he was told.  "If the shooter was white, they'd have told us."

Consider the major progress in race relations indicated by this recent report from the New York Times:

Based on reports filed by victims, blacks committed 66 percent of all violent crime in New York in 2009, including 80 percent of shootings and 71 percent of robberies. Blacks and Hispanics together accounted for 98 percent of reported gun assaults.  [emphasis added]

Non-Hispanic whites, on the other hand, committed 5 percent of the city's violent crimes in 2009, 1.4 percent of all shootings and less than 5 percent of all robberies.

The Times couldn't bring itself to point out that minorities are such a small fraction of the overall population that any given black or Hispanic man is far, far more likely to commit a violent crime than a white man, but publicly admitting the obvious about black violence is a major step forward.

The Bottom Line

The most important aspects of this incident are:

  • The NAACP called for a black government employee to be fired for racial discrimination.  Although they took it back soon after, the NAACP has admitted in principle that it is wrong for blacks to discriminate against whites.  This is unprecedented.
  • The Secretary of Agriculture was able to dismiss am employee 'way down at the bottom of the pile.  Although he had to apologise and offer her the job back once the facts came out, the fact remains the he was able to fire her.  To our shocked surprise, it turns out that it just may be possible to get rid of government employees who mess up; establishing this precedent is of inestimable value.
  • Major news media have finally begun to report on the ill effects of the prevailing anti-white bias, something ordinary Americans have understood for decades.  It's about time!

The NAACP has been anti-white for all of living memory and recently accused the Tea Party people of being racist.  Instead of rolling over, the Tea Party folks started firing back at the NAACP and the Obama administration.

This sort of slanging helps no one.  The vast majority of Americans are sick and tired of any form of racism and are now almost as fed up with false accusations of racism.

Fortunately, there's a simple solution to this whole racism thing - which we'll discuss in the next article in this series.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments
July 26, 2010 1:20 PM
Looks like the Times has decided to blame conservatives for fanning the raced war flames:

When Race Is the Issue, Misleading Coverage Sets Off an Uproar
It is an open question whether conservative media outlets risk damage to their credibility when obscure or misleading stories are blown out of proportion.

In the last couple of days, Andrew Breitbart, a conservative Web site operator, has been called a liar, a provocateur, a propagandist - and even a race-baiter. But he says he knows who the true race-baiters are: some Democratic activists.

It was one of Mr. Breitbart's Web sites, BigGovernment, that highlighted the heavily edited video clip of Shirley Sherrod, a black official at the Department of Agriculture, apparently saying that she had been biased against a white farmer she was supposed to help. Ms. Sherrod's full speech actually demonstrated the opposite, but do not expect Mr. Breitbart to be embarrassed.

He says there is an election-year strategy under way to "falsely malign opponents of the Democratic party as racist" and that he will continue to fight it.

"It's warfare out there," he said in an interview on Sunday.

The "warfare" is happening partly in the conservative media, where Mr. Breitbart has shown an uncanny ability to play on the issue of race and have it amplified on news shows, talk shows and blogs. The Sherrod episode is hardly the first charge of reverse racism that has been raised by conservative media figures, nor the first that Mr. Breitbart has had a hand in.

But it is an open question whether conservative media outlets risk damage to their credibility when obscure or misleading stories are blown out of proportion and when what amounts to political opposition research is presented as news.

Jane Hall, a communication professor at American University and a former contributor to Fox News, said partisan media outlets "look for something that will get an audience and that will whip up people in some kind of frenzy, warranted or not."

Ms. Hall said what Ms. Sherrod had endured was "classic propaganda."

The drumbeat of racially charged stories has apparently affected the administration, which has said it wants to avoid making decisions in the churn of cable news. Ms. Sherrod said she had been told by an unnamed Agriculture Department official that she had to resign immediately because "you're going to be on Glenn Beck tonight," one of Fox News Channel's biggest right-wing shows.

The incident has also renewed accusations of racism directed at Fox News, a unit of the News Corporation, which could conceivably affect Fox and its advertisers. The National Association of Black Journalists has faulted Fox for years for inaccurately portraying blacks. And Mr. Beck called Mr. Obama a racist last August, prompting an advertiser boycott that continues.

In the last month, Fox doggedly pursued an accusation of voter intimidation by a fringe hate group called the New Black Panthers on the day of the last presidential election. One news anchor, Megyn Kelly, devoted dozens of segments to the incident. (Ms. Kelly was even upbraided on the air by a Fox News contributor, Kirsten Powers, who accused her of doing the "scary black man thing."

Last fall, Fox's news programs gave heavy play to heavily edited tapes that appeared to show counselors at the liberal community organizing group Acorn giving advice to an ostensible pimp and his prostitute about evading taxes and setting up a brothel.

Fox's news programs covered the story extensively. Rush Limbaugh claimed at the time that other media entities were "doing their best to cover it up by ignoring it." Over the weekend, a former Democratic National Committee chairman, Howard Dean, accused Fox of pushing "a theme of black racism."

"Continuing to cater to this theme of minority racism and stressing comments like this - some of which are taken out of context - does not help the country knit itself together," he said on Fox News Sunday.

Michael Clemente, the senior vice president for Fox News, said in a statement on Sunday, "As we said this past week, some people, such as the failed candidate Dean, reflexively blame Fox for almost anything."

Fox's newscasts did not cover the edited Sherrod video last Monday, nor did Mr. Beck, but the opinion host Bill O'Reilly did call on her to resign.

She resigned between the time Mr. O'Reilly taped his show and when that show was broadcast.

Mr. O'Reilly apologized two nights later, and another Fox News host, Shepard Smith, asked, "What in the world has happened to our industry and the White House?"

Rich Lowry of The National Review wrote on the magazine's blog, The Corner, that Ms. Sherrod's "saga over the last couple of days is a lesson in how the culture of offense often works in contemporary America - chewing people up and spitting them out before they even have a chance to defend themselves."

David Frum, a former fellow at the American Enterprise Institute who now edits, said some conservatives argue that the ends justify the means in cases of faulty journalism.

"Many conservatives have worked themselves into such fear that Barack Obama is not only wasting our money but actually trying to overthrow the Constitution that those fears can justify almost anything," he said in an interview on Friday.

Scurrilous stories meant to taint the Obama administration regularly take root online before gaining traction on television and radio. Mr. Breitbart calls this the "undermedia."

"It's my business model to craft strategies to make sure that the mainstream media is forced to reckon with stories that it would love to ignore because it doesn't fit their narrative," he said.

Equal parts a culture warrior and businessman, Mr. Breitbart is the person who last fall released the Acorn tapes to Fox News.

The video of Ms. Sherrod, the agriculture official, emerged on BigGovernment early on July 19. Mr. Breitbart said that in featuring the video of Ms. Sherrod speaking at an N.A.A.C.P. event, he was trying to defend the Tea Party movement against the N.A.A.C.P.'s claims of racism. That explanation was largely lost in translation, however.

Mr. Breitbart has cultivated his own news-and-commentary brand off the back of Matt Drudge, whose Drudge Report Web site he diligently updated for years. (His relationship with Mr. Drudge is the one subject Mr. Breitbart never discusses.) Back in 2005, Mr. Breitbart helped Arianna Huffington set up The Huffington Post. Mr. Breitbart's work for Ms. Huffington did not last long. His marquee site,, now averages 2.6 million visitors a month, according to the measurement firm Quantcast, and in the last year he has added several extensions, like the BigGovernment site.

He says he does not monitor his Web traffic closely, but allowed that last week was one of his Web sites' most-publicized weeks ever. He did issue a correction to his account, saying the incident "shows the imperfect nature of journalism," but said his mistakes had paled in comparison to those of the mainstream media.

Richard Prince, a media columnist for the Maynard Institute, which advocates for more diverse newsrooms and news coverage, said that stories suggesting reverse discrimination appeal to a faction of Americans who are disaffected toward the Obama administration and feel disadvantaged by the faltering economy.

"It comes down to the economic situation," he said. "When people are in these kinds of straits, they look for scapegoats; they lash out."
July 26, 2010 7:09 PM
In some ways you have to look at her life and be amazed that she came even half way to accepting whites after what whites put her through.

While it is true that blacks and all other minorities need to forget about the past and accept the changes made since the 1940s and understand that they can prosper. Accepting that change, not holding onto that pain and hate, while needed, is far from easy.
July 26, 2010 7:31 PM

You are completely correct that Ms. Sherrod suffered. You are correct in recognizing that she'd have a hard time getting over it.

THAT is the point many people are trying to make. Given how hard it is to forgive and harder to forget, the last thing any body needs is racist blow hards stirring up trouble for their own money advantage of political effect, like Sharpton and Jackson.

Whites did it too, but they stopped a while back. The NAACP keeps telling black folks they can't succeed because the whites won't let them and keeps telling white folks they have to pay black folks off. That doesn't help anything.

At least Jackson has been quiet for a while. the others should be quiet for a while too.
July 27, 2010 5:42 PM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...