It is easy to see that there’s little of importance going on in Washington, D.C. as the congressional recess approaches and attention turns to the August election primaries and November elections. Why else could a story about a minor official of the Dept. of Agriculture in rural Georgia being fired for what seemed to be self- described racial bias in 1986, stimulate such a media and political frenzy. The short version and the essence of the issue is best described by an anonymous blogger.
“One day, the U.S. agriculture secretary forced an official to resign after she was portrayed as treating whites worse than blacks. The next day, Tom Vilsack (Sec. AG) apologized and offered to rehire Shirley Sharrod, saying he had acted in haste as the result of an out-of-context video.”
That’s it. That’s all there was to it.
Unfortunately the post’s commentator adds this: “What lessons can be learned here?”
Nothing deep and heavily intellectual is required. There’s always: “Haste makes waste.” “Look before you leap.” How about the old carpenter’s adage: “Measure twice, cut once.”
But the media, political pundits and party officials have launched into their typical racial hysteria, mostly contrived, in an effort to blame individuals, groups, and parties, in their self righteous efforts to make this minor episode a “teachable moment”. One liberal “teacher” called it a “high tech lynching”, a transparent and plagiaristic borrowing of a phrase made famous by Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas in his contentious confirmation hearings in 1991. David Harsany of the Denver Post laments; “how easily a reckless charge of racism can destroy someone.” True indeed. Just ask former
Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott who made the “racist” mistake of praising now deceased former 1948 Dixiecrat, then Republican, Senator Strom Thurmond at his 300th or so birthday party. While the charge against Sharrod was indeed “reckless” as was soon revealed, she was hardly “Lotted” much less “destroyed” and is now another instant heroine, although she has done nothing, either good or bad.
The Sunday television news shows all featured interviews and panels who engaged in collective hand wringing and over-analysis, some even reviewing the entire history of race relations in the U.S. from the 1965 Civil Rights Law and before, and all seeking to “teach” the presumably “uninformed” and perhaps “insensitive” viewers the “truth” about race relations in the U.S.
The Washington Post on 7/26/10 had three separate commentaries about the issue as well as a panel of no less than nine “experts” to discuss the meaning of the incident. In Washington D.C. , eager to be angry about something, street protesters dressed in the valentine-like motif of the ever loony feminist/anti-war group Code Pink waved signs proclaiming their “love” for Shirley, although they didn’t bother to explain why.
The underlying irony of the whole thing is that Shirley Sharrod is black and the overly quick reaction of the Agriculture Secretary was a symptom of the Democrat’s own permanent infection with political correctness. One wonders if Sharrod had been white, if the calls for contextual accuracy which led to her rapid reinstatement would have generated any media or administration reaction at all. That question will never be answered. For now, Sharrod can bask in the warm glow of her brief victimization and tell her grandchildren how the President of the United States called her with a personal apology. Apparently she just missed out on a Rose Garden “beer summit” with Obama and Vilsack.
For genuine context the more common sense observers at the British Broadcasting Company offer this: the episode reflects “. . .the absurdity of the spin cycle in which American journalists and politicians are intertwined, and about the febrile atmosphere that surrounds any story about race.”
But this is America and there must be a book deal about Shirley’s life somewhere in the works and then who knows, maybe she’ll run for governor of Alaska.