Saturday, July 24, 2010

360 degree turn - Now the right is attacking Shirley Sherrod for calling Breitbart a racist

As fast as they issued mea culpas because of the treatment of Shirley Sherrod, some members of the right are now seemingly taking back those mea culpas and are attempting to make Sherrod into Madame Defarge while at the same time trying to make Andrew Breitbart into a victim.

My guess is that in the next few days you will be hearing about this interview with Anderson Cooper in right-wing circles:

The portion of the interview which will probably be focused on is at 2:30 when Sherrod says she thinks Breitbart would like to get African-Americans "stuck back in the times of slavery." She later says that she thinks he is a racist. Both of these statements came from her responding to a comment Breitbart made in Politico, another online site.

Did I say will be focused on? I meant to say is now being focused on., one of Breitbart's websites, now contains a listing of links from conservatives who on Friday said that Sherrod owes Breitbart an apology:

Goldberg: Sherrod Owes Breitbart an Apology

Riehl: Sherrod owes Breitbart an apology

 Ponnuru: Sherrod owes Breitbart an apology

This also includes a listing of other right-wing pieces demonizing Sherrod:

 Human Events: Shirley Sherrod Falsely Sainted by Propagandist Media

 Powerline: Sherrod acted racially irresponsible

'the Obama admin now owns Shirley Sherrod'

Now in all fairness, there are pieces listed praising Sherrod or focusing objectively on her story.

I say don't you dare apologize, Ms. Sherrod. I fail to see how anyone can make Breitbart the victim in this situation when he was the one who tried to ruin your career and name as part of a vindictive attack on the NAACP, which he has YET to apologize for.

And don't be fooled by the "we were in Ms. Sherrod's corner until she started spouting nonsense" that's most likely sure to come.

According to Media Matters, members of the right were making this turn as early as Thursday when some were claiming that the White House orchestrated the entire situation.

I guess we will know by Monday whether or not the right will return to their regularly scheduled program of the "Obama Administration don't like white people"  but this time featuring Ms. Sherrod as the star.

Related post:

Circling the wagons: Right-wing media figures rush to defend Breitbart

Andrew Breitbart - the NAACP's best friend and the Tea Party Movement's worst enemy

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Andrew Breitbart - the NAACP's best friend and the Tea Party Movement's worst enemy

In the midst of the Shirley Sherrod hoopla, an interesting situation involving the Tea Party Movement seems to have gone unnoticed:

One of the most prominent men in the tea party movement, Tea Party Express spokesperson and former chair Mark Williams, is abandoning the group he helped propel into the role of the tea party's public face.

. . . In his resignation letter to the TPE, Williams says he left the group after the past week's public battle with the NAACP made him too hot to handle.

"I feel compelled to separate myself from any further involvement with the Tea Party Express so that I can pursue other interests," Williams wrote, "and to free the tea party movement from any more distraction based on my personal comments or blogs."

It’s interesting that when Van Jones resigned, folks were commenting about how Glenn Beck - who orchestrated opposition to Jones - "got a scalp.” When ACORN was taken down thanks to the videos of James O’Keefe which were pushed by Andrew Breitbart, both were given the dubious honor of “getting a scalp.”

Shouldn’t the same be said for the NAACP regarding Williams?

After all, it was their resolution denouncing racism in the tea party which fueled the entire controversy causing Williams to make a complete ass of himself and thereby proving the NAACP’s point.

Probably not and for two reasons. No one likes to think of the NAACP as out to “take scalps” and wreck careers. It wouldn’t fit into the image of a venerable civil rights groups, although it couldn’t hurt if it did.

Secondly there is this awful idea propagated that no one on the left in general knows how to fight hard and asks questions later. The image of Breitbart and many on the right is that of warriors who figuratively dance on the graves of their enemies and gloat even before the bodies have gotten cold.

Meanwhile those of us on the left are seen as wimps, unable to be decisive because we are constantly fretting over the repercussions of our actions even before we take them.

So no, I don’t think anyone will be awarding the NAACP with “scalps” anytime soon.

But the organization does have a victory here because one of the head warriors, Breitbart, seems to have tripped and fallen on his own spear.

Right now, the NAACP is dealing with the embarrassment of having to apologize to Sherrod after throwing her under the bus. But we must all remember that in controversies like this one, there are long term repercussions that go with the short term ones and sometimes the two run diametrically opposite to each other.

We saw this with the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky situation. While the Republican Party ended up with a huge amount of egg on its face because of the controversy, the scandal made it difficult for Al Gore to embrace Clinton’s administrative successes when he ran for president in 2000. Gore shied away from comparing himself to Clinton, which did hurt his campaign.

That added with a few other situations, including what some on my side still call chicanery, ensured the election of George W. Bush.

In that same vein, we should recognize what effect the Shirley Sherrod situation has on the Tea Party Movement.

If Breitbart had meant to deflect cries of racism from the Tea Party Movement, he failed miserably. If anything, his actions only ensured that the Tea Party Movement will be forever yoked to the image of racism and oppression. And this image will only worsen should Breitbart make an appearance at tea party functions, which I know he will. And I am betting that he will receive thunderous applause too.

In the long run, it doesn’t matter how many African-Americans tea party leaders can pull out of the woodwork or how many shows they appear on to decry the idea that they are racist, the one thing people will take from the Sherrod case is that one of their leaders, a white man, helped to railroad an innocent black woman with a doctored videotape and a false claim of racism.

And that image isn't going away anytime soon.

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