Sherrod and Breitbart

Wow, the Shirley Sherrod thing. With the exception of Sherrod herself, and the farmers she had helped, and who went on television to defend her character, it was pretty much a race to see who could possibly be the biggest jackass. It’s a tough call, but I’m going to go with Andrew Breitbart being the biggest ass of them all. Yes, both the NAACP and the Obama Adminstration reacted before knowing the facts based on an edited video clip from a highly questionable, partisan hack, and therefore deserve a paddlin’. At least they have both apologized and in the case of the administration, offered Sherrod a new job. But let’s not forget the problem began when Breitbart posted a video of questionable provenance; he didn’t edit it, nor was he apparently aware of the larger context of the “racist” discussion at hand.

Let’s also not forget that when Breitbart was called on posted the slanted, edited video which got Sherrod fired, his response was to say that none of this was really about Sherrod, which I suppose the newly-unemployed Sherrod might have been surprised to hear. When the wife of the farmer whom Sherrod had helped defended the woman, Breitbart’s response was to question how anyone knew she was really the farmer’s wife at all. Because if Andrew Breitbart knows anything, it’s that you can’t trust everything you read on those so-called news sites. Well, of course, the reason why we know she’s the farmer’s wife is that actual journalists went out and did some research, rather than, say, just sucking in an edited video that one otherwise knows almost nothing about and then posting it as an example of institutional racism.

This has been a teachable moment for all of us, and the lesson learned here is: Andrew Breitbart is a lazy journalist and a self-justifying whiner, and on political matters (at the very least) one should trust him and his judgment about as far as you’d trust a hyena not to chew on the innards of a staked goat. Another lesson: You don’t really want Andrew Breitbart on your side, since in his effort here to show the hypocrisy of the NAACP in condemning racist elements of the Tea Party, he’s aided and abetted in the character assassination of a hard-working black woman who helps rural Americans keep their farms. Yes, Andrew Breitbart. This is exactly what the Tea Party folks needed at this juncture. Well done, you. Well done, indeed.

The good news here is that the next time Andrew Breitbart pulls something like this, he’ll likely be ignored. Because here’s the thing about journalism, sloppy or otherwise: You get to burn people once. And after that they really do consider the source.

297 thoughts on “Sherrod and Breitbart

  1. The good news here is that the next time Andrew Breitbart pulls something like this, he’ll likely be ignored.

    Your hopeless optimism is showing. I’ll take that bet and give you points too.

  2. This whole affair was just disgusting. I’m hopeful that the upshot of this is the Obama administration growing a spine to stand up to the ridiculous rhettoric of the extreme right. Why this administration has consistently caved to right-wing interests is, frankly, a little beyond me. Another possible upshot, maybe, is that we all learned a little something about what racism really looks like. And about good journalism. I wonder if the lessons will stick.

  3. “You get to burn people once. And after that they really do consider the source.”

    In an ideal world, certainly.

  4. Breitbart should stick to publishing the whimsical writings of former “Law & Order” star & current whack-a-loon Michael Morriarty. You can’t put a price on that entertainment.

  5. Sorry, John, but while BOTH sides behaved abominably, the prize goes to Obama and friends for the “Biggest Asshole Golden Toilet Paper Roll” catagory. As usual, Obama and friends ran their mouths without checking to see what happened (The police in Cambridge acted stupidly). Breitbart may or may not have edited things to change context, but the President of the United States SHOULD be intelligent enough to hold his tongue on things until he DOES get the facts. And listening to Gibbs try to turn the tables and blame the media and others for the White House’s screw-ups was sad. It was just more “It’s (fill in the blank)’s fault. We did nothing wrong here.” Perhaps Obama should do a little history studying and learn a phrase from another Democrat. “The Buck Stops Here” means thathe needs to put brain in gear before running the mouth.

  6. In all honesty… This is the sort of reason why I didn’t vote for Obama in the primaries. It’s a rookie mistake that someone with more political experience–and a much more jaded worldview than President Pollyanna–would not have made.

    Don’t get me wrong: I think Obama has good intentions and has done some great things so far in his term. He’s mostly on the right side of just about every issue, and he’s been making a healthy effort at trying to lead Congress to get shit done.

    But stuff like this is just facepalm territory, and it wouldn’t be happening if we’d had someone who was more cynical and less naive about whether it’s possible to make nice with the hardcore right.

  7. Neale @5

    “the President of the United States SHOULD be intelligent enough to hold his tongue on things until he DOES get the facts”

    the entire Bush administration says hi.

  8. Thing is, this isn’t the first time Breitbart’s burned the MSM before. Remember the whole pimp-and-ACORN incident? Yeah, that scumwad worked for Breitbart. Which makes it all the more infuriating that the media and the administration would be the least bit credulous with regard to him. He practically has “partisan hack” tattooed on his forehead, so why anyone who doesn’t work for Fox News would give credence to a single word out of his mouth is beyond me. If he posted that water was wet, I’d seek independent verification before jumping in the pool.

  9. I’m going to disagree- I think Obama and the Administration came out looking worse. Breitbart is what he always has been- a loathsome, odious prevaricator and gadfly. This is neither news, nor a great revelation. Hence, if the story is based upon Breitbart’s bleatings, you ignore it, as it WILL be false.

    You do not give it any credence, or publicity, which is where Obama and the Administration screwed up. Breitbart is a rabid loon, don’t dignify him by calling him a journalist.

    I wish that the Democratic party would show more balls on this- the proper response if asked about this story is “You rely on Breitbart? Have you had a closed head injury?” Trash should be treated like trash.

  10. Nathan @ #1 stole my thunder, but really? Breitbart will be ignored next time?

    That seems highly unlikely, as long as Fox ‘news’ is still around.

  11. Your hopeless optimism is showing. I’ll take that bet and give you points too.

    Yep, John’s forgotten the prime rule of modern media: IOKIYAR.

  12. I’m a Liberal and generally an Obama supporter, but this incident does fit into a disturbing theme in this administration of “Oh Noes, someone on our team said something insufficiently Politically Correct… BURN THEM.

    I don’t really understand it, and I think it just feeds the perception that “PC” is an ideological witchhunt of the Left no different than any of the many idiological witchhunts perpetrated by the Right.

  13. Sure, the buck stops with the White House, but let’s put the blame where it belongs within the Administration. No decision or pressure came from the White House — it came from the Department of Agriculture, headed by Tom Vilsack. He’s no neophyte, and he got snookered. The fact that the White House stepped up, apologized, and is taking the blame rather than shoving it down the line is actually pretty admirable (of course, it would have been more admirable if this never happened in the first place).

    Anyway, whoever says that the person who got fooled is morally worse than the liar who fooled him has serious issues. You can be more disappointed in the Obama administration, since we expect better judgment from them and know that Breitbart is human trash, but saying they’re somehow worse actors than Breitbart in this is patently ridiculous.

  14. How do you spell the same word both correctly and incorrectly in the same two-sentence comment? Sheesh.

  15. The Obama administration and the USDA both had the good grace to call Mrs. Sherrod and offer sincere, abject apologies, and a better job than she had before she offered her letter of resignation.

    Breitbart? He “feels sorry for her” but would have done what he did again if he felt it would hurt the NAACP. Will he call Mrs. Sherrod and apologize? Will he apologize to the NAACP for his hit job? Of course not. The right wing does not do “sorry” outside of “I’m sorry I got caught” and “I’m sorry you feel bad”. Never “I’m sorry for what I did, it was wrong”.

    This is a pathology of the far right. They’re incapable of actual admission of having done something morally wrong in the service of taking down the “enemy”. Honest conservatives are of course capable of doing right by people they’ve wronged, but not people like Breitbart, Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, Palin, and so on. You know, the media voice of the Tea Party movement.

    When talking about Breitbart’s future in the media, keep in mind that this guy employed someone who broke into the offices of a US Senator and messed with her phone. That didn’t do him any damage. Why should this? The FOX News wing of the Tea Party movement will keep Breitbart around because he’s one of its leaders.

  16. “Andrew Breitbart is a lazy journalist…”

    As a working newspaper stiff who tries to get things right, I consider it an insult to the profession to elevate that showboating racist clown to the status of “journalist.”

  17. Perhaps Ms Sherrod did make one mistake — or was too honestly forthright.

    She brought up the point that what we’ve had, and will need to face in the future, is not so much a matter of race (though that problem is bad enough) as it is one of economic class.

    The idea that most people will come to realize this must terrify The Wealthy Establishment (which includes almost all the politicians in D.C. when you include those who depend strongly on corporate/wealthy donors for the costs of their re-election campaigns).

  18. The problem with John’s post is that the NAACP had the full video. If they were smart they’d have watched it and released it in full. Of course they didn’t because despite what the left-wing says it didn’t fully exonerate the woman in question. Oh sure, she EVENTUALLY helped out the white farmer but only after she put it in class warfare terms. And she never really had a “come-to-Jesus” moment over her own racism; she just found a group (the so-called “rich”) to hate more.

    But this is, once again, proof that our current President is the most bumbling incompetent we’ve had to suffer through in any of our lifetimes. I mean: Stimulus, abject failure; Health Care, a bunch of lies to produce a system that won’t deliver; cap-and-trade, get used to paying an extra $5000 a year in just living expenses; The gulf, don’t worry about getting help (like booms and lifting regs) O, just work on your golf swing, rock out with McCartny, and take a few more vacations (5 in 3 months).

    Obama == Complete FAIL!

  19. John Needham:

    “That seems highly unlikely, as long as Fox ‘news’ is still around.”

    Which makes Shep Smith’s bit here, which aired on Fox news, that much more ironic.

    I’m sure that Breitbart will continue to shovel stupidity and that some folks will pick it up and run with it. I don’t think the Administration, however, will feel obliged to act on such information without verification from actual journalists, however, and I do think reputable journalism outlets will be more hesitant, or at least will note Breitbart’s inherent unreliability.

    Scorpius:

    “But this is, once again, proof that our current President is the most bumbling incompetent we’ve had to suffer through in any of our lifetimes.”

    Yeah, no, unless you’ve ported in through an alternate reality where the last Bush wasn’t president.

  20. For me this was a yawner. It was wrong to start with and was dealt with. At least it was not swept under the carpet like the black panther voter intimidation issue. I still not sure why she did not get her original job back. Certainly they did not fill it with someone else that fast.

  21. But this is, once again, proof that our current President is the most bumbling incompetent we’ve had to suffer through in any of our lifetime

    As someone noted above, the entire Bush administration says “hi!” (from an undisclosed location).

  22. There appears to be some conflation of Obama and the Obama Administration in the comments here. My understanding is that Sherrod’s firing was Tom Vilsack’s decision. This is not to say that Obama should not be held accountable. It is his administration and he did appoint Vilsack. But to say that he should have held his tongue before he got all the facts straight is a little misleading as to what his actual role was in this whole thing.

  23. @ John Scalzi @ #19, well, I certainly hope you’re right about reputable journalists and the WH being more reticent. Certainly, the next Ms. Sherrod deserves better treatment than this one got, from all parties involved.

    Kudos, too, to the WH and the administration for a sincere apology.

  24. Seriously, I wanna live in Scorpius’ alternate reality. It sounds like the first decade of the 21st Century went off without a hitch there.

    Although apparently they need better eyecare.

  25. And OF COURSE Ann Coulter (or as I like to call her- Annie Cooter) comes to his defense. He was a “victim of fraud”. I say, victim of laziness! Beautiful entry there Scalzi. You should send him the link to this entry.

  26. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time Breitbart has done this. The false ACORN scandal, started by James O’Keefe, was perpetuated by Breitbart, and eventually lead to the current administration distancing itself from the organization then pulled its funding.

    While I’d like to think it won’t happen again, I can’t be sure.

  27. Scorpius @ 18:

    And she never really had a “come-to-Jesus” moment over her own racism; she just found a group (the so-called “rich”) to hate more.

    A come-to-Jesus moment is exactly what she had, when she realized that the issue was not just about helping poor black people, but helping the all the poor. I’m Jewish, so I could be wrong about this, but I believe that Jesus made more than the occasional reference to helping the poor in the New Testament.

    I watched the unedited tape, and if what Shirley Sherrod told that audience wasn’t an inspirational story about personal growth, then there is no such thing.

  28. The good news here is that the next time Andrew Breitbart pulls something like this, he’ll likely be ignored. Because here’s the thing about journalism, sloppy or otherwise: You get to burn people once. And after that they really do consider the source.

    Except that this is the same guy that publicized the fraudulent video that purported to show ACORN giving advice to a human trafficker in a halloween pimp costume. Only to find out later that–oops! the students who made the video had lied about absolutely everything; they got their footage while wearing suits, not costumes; they dubbed over the audio with a script they’d written themselves; and, oh yeah, ACORN called the cops on them.

    So, yeah, that’s twice so far, and that’s without dignifying his website with a visit to see if I can spot any more. And if it keeps getting him what he wants (which, for charity’s sake, we’ll say is attention), I don’t think it’s very likely he’s going to stop.

    This guy’s an insult to the journalistic profession, no doubt. I’m not saying he should be absolved of responsibility for peddling actionable libel. But we’re in “you knew he was a snake when you picked him up” territory, here. So while yes, I absolutely think he is to blame for this, I also think everyone else involved should have had the good sense to suspect he might be lying. You know, just like he did last time.

  29. This entire incident is representative of what’s wrong with America and possibly most of the world. We are far to quick to accept what someone tells us without thinking, without researching and without reference to our own bias.
    If someone tells you something that seems likely because you believe that the underlying premise is true, than you will accept it as fact, and will be far less likely to check into it.
    So since many people (apparently including the white house and NAACP) think that African Americans do exhibit a racism toward white people, they were willing to accept the tape without research.

    How many people saw the original story BEFORE the reveal and were willing to accept its truth? You see we all do it unless we are consciously aware that we need to be skeptical. We need to question our own biases.

    Its obvious that we should have questioned the credibility of that journalist, but the real problem is why we didn’t. It was because we had an unconscious bias toward the premise. We don’t think critically.

  30. NothingIsEqual says:

    At least it was not swept under the carpet like the black panther voter intimidation issue.

    One obviously idiotic black guy with a club near a polling place — ooh, scary! Numerous white guys with guns at town meetings, political rallies, etc — hooray for the right to bear arms!

    Please. Bush appointee Abigail Thompson called this correctly: “This doesn’t have to do with the [New] Black Panthers; this has to do with [conservatives'] fantasies about how they could use this issue to topple the administration.”

  31. I don’t know. I think I’d put Breitbart in the category of propagandist rather than journalist.

    Then again, I’m working as a journalist right now, and the thought of being put into the same general category with that jerk just bugs the hell out of me.

  32. Ben- where does pointing out Obama’s stupidity on this mean I supported Baby Bush? Idiots are all we’ve had in the White House for decades. Criminals, Navy guys who never should have gotten into politics, senile Actors, trees, guys who think with the other head, MORE trees, and our current idiot. We need intelligence in the White House. We NEED a third party candidate. NOT more of the same “Two sides of the same authoritarian/socialistic coin” we’ve had the past 60+ years.

  33. @NothingIsEqual

    1) You can’t have “voter intimidation” charges when no voters come forward to say that they were intimidated. There is no “there” there.

    2) The “sweeping under the carpet” (or, in reality-based English, the decision not to pursue the non-issue) was a decision made before the Obama administration took over — it was the BUSH DOJ that rightly decided it was nothing. Oops.

    I know you guys love to get all in a froth about the OMGSCARYBLACKMENS, but please, it’s getting a bit sad.

  34. One obviously idiotic black guy with a club near a polling place — ooh, scary! Numerous white guys with guns at town meetings, political rallies, etc — hooray for the right to bear arms!

    Well, I’d like to see your proof that “numerous white guys” (racist much?) were at the “town meetings and political rallies”. The one that MSNBC (the network with the all-white line-up) showed was a black man that they obscured the color of by not showing his head.

    But that’s about something called “the law”. I know it’s hard for leftists to understand, but law depends on, in fact is all about, technicalities. It’s not against the law to come armed (if you are qualified to open carry) to a rally or town hall; Federal law specifically prevents you from intimidating voters within a few hundred feet of a voting site while armed.

    But you’re digressing from the point. As, well, I did.

    The point is: I don’t think we should feel sorry for Mrs. Sherrod as, even though she is not guilty of the specific incident, she is a person who holds racist and marxists views and she is, admittedly, someone who contributes to institutional rot by allowing her personal feelings to affect her professional behavior.

  35. I’m going to dissent here as well. The star of this show has been the NAACP, which went into panic mode over the video clip when they had the exact same video the whole time (Breitbart only obtained an edited copy of the NAACP’s tape of the event, look at the logo in the corner) and couldn’t be bothered to check. They were about to be held to their own standard by the use of their own tactics (post accusation, shear off all context, keep fanning the 24/7 cable news media flames) and they panicked. (The Obama administration did too, but they were just on the bandwagon.)

    Plus, I don’t think Sherrod comes off as someone who was – or is – really all that concerned about racial justice at all. At the end, she sends the farmer over to, specifically, a white lawyer, thinking that “one of his own kind” would be the only one able to help – the implication being that only a white lawyer can represent a white client and only a black lawyer can represent a black client. That’s the zero-sum, racialist view of things that has so bedeviled race relations in this country since the 1960′s. Granted, she may have changed her views since then. But I doubt it. As Glenn put it, it’s not like she was speaking to the National Association for the Advancement of Racial Equality. After all, if the crowd listening to her story thought she was doing something wrong to that white farmer, they wouldn’t have been murmuring approval at the actions Sherrod describes in her story.

    The NAACP holds anyone who opposes them to a standard of behavior that the NAACP itself has shown, by firing Sherrod in a blind panic, they cannot meet. So the speech was taken out of context? Boo-hoo. Allow me to play a schadenfreude symphony on the world’s smallest violin for them. As far as whether Sherrod gets her job back, my natural inclination to forgive and forget is bumping up against the knowledge that if I was ever in the unfortunate position of having my words “taken out of context” she’d be part of the racialist mob demanding my head on a platter.

  36. @NothingIsEqual: For me this was a yawner. It was wrong to start with and was dealt with. At least it was not swept under the carpet like the black panther voter intimidation issue.

    And you know this how? Perhaps from the myriad voter intimidation complaints tied to the new Black Panthers? Oh wait, there weren’t any. While there were sitings of Black Panther members at poll stations, there was not one complaint of voter intimidation. No Complaint == No Investigation.

    @Scopius: You do understand that 24 years ago she worked at a non-profit helping poor farmers right? That she was describing how she came to realize that life wasn’t all about black vs. white. That irrespective of race, we can all find ourselves in very unfortunate circumstances. And should any of us find ourselves in that situation, we should be fortunate to encounter someone as compassionate and self-aware as Ms. Sherrod.

  37. MasterThief:

    “As far as whether Sherrod gets her job back, my natural inclination to forgive and forget is bumping up against the knowledge that if I was ever in the unfortunate position of having my words ‘taken out of context’ she’d be part of the racialist mob demanding my head on a platter.”

    In fact, MasterThief, you have absolutely no grounds for making this assertion of knowledge, and if you don’t walk it back in your post, you’re off this thread entirely. I didn’t take a friendly view of Breitbart assassinating this woman’s character, so don’t be under the impression I’m going to tolerate here in the comment thread from you.

  38. @Gareth:

    1) You can’t have “voter intimidation” charges when no voters come forward to say that they were intimidated. There is no “there” there.

    Yes you can. The statute in no way states that “specific voters felt intimidated” instead it depends on “the accused tried to intimidate voters”. Again, it’s law and law is a bunch of headache-inducing technicalities. But we’ve learned through out several thousands of years of civilization that law built on technicalities produces a much more just outcome than law based on subjective feelings.

    2) The “sweeping under the carpet” (or, in reality-based English, the decision not to pursue the non-issue) was a decision made before the Obama administration took over — it was the BUSH DOJ that rightly decided it was nothing. Oops.

    The Bush DOJ decided to drop criminal charges, because criminal charges are much harder to prove in voter intimidation cases than civil. They went ahead with civil charges, got a ban on that person being around polling places in that state for ever and then O’s DOJ dropped it to a ban until 2012.

    Complicated, but they dropped a slap on the wrist to something that will in no way inhibit the thug.

  39. Thank you, 99% of commenters, and Mr. Scalzi. Your commentary makes me feel like there is a future for America. The comments on CNN were unbelievable.

    For Breitbart, I had to stop listening to NPR since they seem to find him a valuable source these days (even in the pieces critical of him). So, I wish he would get ignored, but somehow attention – positive or negative – eventually morphs into some sort of credibility these days.

    I wish news organizations would go back to providing news, not some weird mix of propaganda, circus entertainment, and gossip.

  40. @Scropius: Voting Rights Act of 1965. Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act states that “no person […] shall intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person for voting or attempting to vote.”

    No poll workers have come forward with any allegations of Voter Intimidation. No voters have come forward with any allegations of Voter Intimidation. Do you honestly believe that that hundreds of voters, and poll workers were all somehow kept silent? You not making any sense.

  41. Yes you can. The statute in no way states that “specific voters felt intimidated” instead it depends on “the accused tried to intimidate voters”.

    Uh, and who would it be who would testify out that the “accused tried to intimidate voters”? I’ll give you a hint: it’s a six-letter word that starts with “v”.

  42. I disagree. The Breitbart video did show a bit at the end where Sherrod said the issue, to her, had become poverty rather than race. It was clear, if you watched to the end, that she approached cases differently now. If Breitbart was interested in taking down Sherrod, he would have cut that ending. Breitbart was never after her, he was after the NAACP because of their attacks on the Tea Partiers. That is, he was taking a shot at the audience, not the speaker. At least he shows video, whereas the NAACP just attacks the Tea Party with no evidence presented to back up their accusations.

  43. At this point, I don’t understand why the administration (and journalists) don’t just have a roster of names like Breitbart’s, with a 72-point boldface heading stating “DO NOT TAKE A WORD THAT COMES OUT OF THESE PEOPLE’S MOUTHS AT FACE VALUE EVER.” It’s like Charlie Brown trying to kick the damn football.

    I mean, it’s one thing for our gracious host here not to know Breitbart’s sordid history, since tracking right-wing attack dogs is not his job, but career politicians like Vilsack should damn well know better.

  44. @John Scalzi:

    1.) Thanks for the fix :)
    2.) Sorry for straying.

    Back on point, there is absolutely no way to justify what happened to Ms. Sherrod. For someone to portray her negatively after reviewing the full video, is deliberately misconstruing the both the context and substance of her speech.

    Ultimately, the blame lies with Breitbart. Whether he gave instructions to edit the video, or received it that way in know way exonerates his subsequent actions. His statement that he didn’t intend for Ms. Sherrod to lose is job us laughable at best. What did expect was going to happen? The only thing worse would be if Breitbart had actually seen the original video prior to releasing this smear job.

  45. tell you guys what. Next election cycle, I’ll stand in front of a polling place in a Nazi unuform carrying a club and see if I get the “Voter intimidation” charges against ME dropped. Grow up. If no one complained, perhaps they feared the charge of “RACIST” being levelled at them. Probably, if the idiot was in front of MY polling place, he probably would have gotten arrested for even possessing the club. But then again, they let people with Obama signs stand right in front of the door until I called the police.

  46. This is my last comment on this thread as I’m testing John’s patience, but:

    @Scropius: Voting Rights Act of 1965. Section 11(b) of the Voting Rights Act states that “no person […] shall intimidate, threaten, or coerce, or attempt to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person for voting or attempting to vote.”

    “shall intimidate” not “shall cause to feel intimidated”. I know, it’s a technicality, but as I’ve shown all law is technicality.

    If the law says I shall not intimidate you at your home, I try and you don’t feel intimidated I’ll still be eligible to be charged.

    It’s the intent, not the result, that matters in intimidation cases. Since I may try, succeed in intimidating someone, and they not come forward because of fear. The voting rights act specifically takes this into account since many blacks were intimidated and refused to come forward prior to 1965, so the cases were dropped.

  47. @Scorpius

    But this is, once again, proof that our current President is the most bumbling incompetent we’ve had to suffer through in any of our lifetimes.

    …where were you in 2000-2008? I’m sorry, “No Child Left Behind”, let alone all the easy examples of Bush Co’s failboat, is one pretty clear example of how Bush proved he was doing it wrong.

    @NothingisEqual

    At least it was not swept under the carpet like the black panther voter intimidation issue

    Hmm…no people came forward to say that they were intimidated, this happened while Bush was still President and, in theory, in charge of the DoJ, and has had no further impact on anything. Why is this an issue?

    @Scorpius

    Well, I’d like to see your proof that “numerous white guys” (racist much?) were at the “town meetings and political rallies”.

    So then you missed this guy? Or how about all the Tea Partiers calling for “Second Amendment” solutions” or the ones toting signs that say “If Brown can’t fix it then a Browning will”? Yeah, that’s not intimidating at all…

    Federal law specifically prevents you from intimidating voters within a few hundred feet of a voting site while armed.

    And yet there’s no one who has come forward saying that they were intimidated by this guy. Furthermore, you’re forgetting one thing: laying this at the feet of Obama is idiotic since he wasn’t even in office yet. If anything, the non-investigation or prosecution of it is on the feet of the Bush administration’s DoJ for not pursuing it since they were the one’s in office at the time.

  48. Yad:

    “The only thing worse would be if Breitbart had actually seen the original video prior to releasing this smear job.”

    I think it’s six of one and half dozen of the other. If a video’s been edited down, a responsible journalist asks what’s in the rest of the video. So both scenarios are bad. Although I would agree that in the case of Breitbart knowing the video was edited and the words were out of context and he aired it anyway, leading to accusations of racism, Ms. Sherrod would have a stronger case for libel. But I’m willing to give Breitbart the benefit of the doubt that he didn’t know about the rest of the video, because all evidence points to someone who doesn’t do his homework.

  49. Also, thanks Scorpius and Yad for reining in the side discussion. Everyone else do the same, please.

    Edit: Ah, Matt, I see we cross-posted. No worries.

    Neale Osborn:

    Your last comment shows you being kind of an ass to others in this comment thread. If you can’t be civil to everyone else here while expressing your opinion, there are other places you can be.

  50. I have no evidence in support, but I am mortally certain that Breitbart saw the original video prior to smearing Ms. Sherrod. How can I say this? The man has a track record. Truth, fairness, and objectivity are not things he is concerned with.

  51. # John Scalzion 22 Jul 2010 at 12:35 pm
    Also, thanks Scorpius and Yad for reining in the side discussion. Everyone else do the same, please.

    Done. Author’s blog, his rules.

  52. @Scalzi:

    Fair point on the word choice as to Sherrod. I don’t know.

    Still, it’s hard to watch her talk about what she’s thinking in the Breitbart and contrast it with this. If I was a country lawyer in Georgia, would she only bring me white clients because she thinks I would only help someone of my own race (never mind that the rules of my soon-to-be profession require me to represent all clients to the best of my ability regardless of race)? If I was ever in a similar position to her in this speech talking honestly about my own experiences, would she look at the context of my words or the color of my skin first? Would she do unto me as I would have done unto her? Would she listen to the context, or would she see my life turned upside-down to score a political point?

  53. [Deleted because I already noted twice I wanted this side discussion on the voter intimidation thing to be dropped. Gareth, I'm going to assume you didn't see these notes. Please feel free to comment otherwise -- JS]

  54. MasterThief:

    Well, I do think one of the points of her longer (unedited) talk was how she worked to get away from her own biases. I think one of the more salient ways to estimate what she would do is to listen to the farmers in this particular case, and their own estimation of how she acted to them and for them — they seem to think she did a good job.

    Thank you for the walkback, I do appreciate it.

  55. @Scalzi- I think that’s the sadder thing in this whole mess, that she was trying to use the story to make a point about class, instead of race, that will only be used as another “gotcha” point to rile up people to vote Republican in November.

  56. OK, I lied. I’m going to make a final comment, that is on point.

    A LOT of prominent conservative pundits have spoken out against Breitbart on this case; Glenn Beck and The Anchoress come immediately to mind. Their reason for doing so is the edited, out-of-context, “gotcha” way in which Breitbart did it. And, due in no small degree, because they have had it done to them* or watched it done to other “righties” repeatedly, ad nauseum by the left.

    So how about a truce? From now on, we on the right will reserve judgment of a person given video until the full video and the full context is revealed, if you on the left do the same. And this requires you all (“you all” being the ones who participated) apologizing for demonizing Trent Lott years ago.

    *It happened to Beck. He was on his show talking about how President Wilson segregated the restrooms in Federal buildings to protect White workers because he (Wilson) believed that “blacks carried diseases”. Lefty blogs and MSNBC took this way out of context and used it to make the kool-aid drinkers and those not paying attention believe that Beck was stating his belief that “blacks carry dieseases”.

  57. Neale Osborn @35
    You’re right, of course. the Bush administrations wrongs do not forgive those of the Obama administration. I’m just offering some perspective, which has a tendency to disappear in these discussions.

    also, please specify if you’re responding to “ben” or “Ben”. “Ben” is someone else.

    As for 60+ years of socialism, I think you’ve got a tough road to hoe in that direction. For instance, socialism in comparison to what? I think a better term is “pragmatic”, but this isn’t a discussion about that, so I’m going to stop there.

  58. @Scorpius- I’m completely in with the truce. However, I do have one question- why is it necessary to say And, due in no small degree, because they have had it done to them* or watched it done to other “righties” repeatedly, ad nauseum by the left as an excuse, beyond “because it was wrong”? Wrong is still wrong, no?

  59. @The Late Jason B. Yes it was wrong; but I was talking about why they were standing up for her. In was due, in no small degree, because they had been victims of the injustice they saw applied to another. We as humans are much more likely to stand up against injustice if we’ve suffered the specific injustice ourselves.

  60. Speaking of walkbacks, that seems to be the point here, isn’t it? For all of you Breitbart apologists and pointing towards the administration being bad, who’s the person who still hasn’t apologized for their role in this? The White House, Vilsack and the NAACP have all offered their apologies for foolishly not checking their sources. Breitbart…not so much.

  61. Scorpius:

    “A LOT of prominent conservative pundits have spoken out against Breitbart on this case”

    As well they should have. This wasn’t an issue of him being conservative; it’s an issue of him being an ass, and that’s not cornered by any particular political affiliation.

    You may note, incidentally, that I did not beat on Breitbart for being right-wing or conservative (I did ping him for being “partisan,” but that’s a word that swings both ways); I went after him primarily for being sloppy and lazy.

  62. Andrew Breitbart’s conscious, deliberate malice is infinitely more disgusting than the Obama administration’s ineptitude. But like most wingers, he has taken the measure of the media and can play their weaknesses and stupidities like a fiddle. He loses nothing by trying to destroy this woman’s career. In fact, he gains. In the modern media world, sunlight is not a disinfectant.

    Breitbart’s own words give a good libel lawyer plenty of ammo. Shirley Sherrod should sue Breitbart and Fox News, and clean their clocks.

  63. Scorpius @67:

    Sounds like false equivalence to me. Everyone heard about Sherrod. I’ve never heard that Beck story you referenced, and Googling “Beck Wilson disease” doesn’t come up with anything (at least on the first page) indicating that not many other people have heard of it either.

    If your “truce” requires that no one on the left will ever say something stupid (that’s subsequently completely ignored) then I’m afraid you’re out of luck.

    And re Lott, the whole point here is that context matters. Sherrod’s statement that appeared to show racism actually showed the opposite when taking in context. Lott was a Senator who’d opposed Civil Rights legislation and had spoken at a meeting of the racist “Council of Conservative Citizens”. When he said that if we’d elected a segregationist president back in 1948 we “we wouldn’t have had all the problems we have had since then” that was of a piece with his history.

  64. Breitbart’s own words give a good libel lawyer plenty of ammo. Shirley Sherrod should sue Breitbart and Fox News, and clean their clocks.

    And, she’d lose. Slander and libel cases are notoriously difficult to prove in the U.S. as it depends on the preponderance of evidence. And, Breitbart’s and FoxNews’ defenses would be that “it was all the video they had” and “we were emphasizing the audiences’ reaction, not Mrs. Sherrod’s words”.

    If they were easy to win the unbounded list of right-wingers who have been slandered/libeled would have closed down the Soros-funded whack-o-sphere long ago.

  65. @Jon Marcus #77- Regardless of false equivalence, the “gotcha” tactics are wrong, and beneath both sides. I’ve never heard about the Beck story Scorpius referenced, but I’m willing to take him at his word that it happened. I think Scorpius’ truce was simply that both sides agree to watch any similar footage in its entirety, before making the pronouncements.

    I think the thing with Lott was a serious tactical mistake by the left, and also unfair. Lott had plenty of legitimate things to criticize him for, his comments at Strom Thurmond’s ceremony were stupid, but to use them to score points was a bad idea by the left. I mean, I have been in situations quite often where I have to say something nice about someone I don’t particularly like. And I’m an open, avowed, and unashamed liberal- the Lott thing with Strom Thurmond was a cheap shot, and took away from any legitimate criticism of Lott. IMO, obviously.

  66. Acorpius @67: “A LOT of prominent conservative pundits have spoken out against Breitbart on this case; Glenn Beck and The Anchoress come immediately to mind.”

    I’ll give The Anchoress some credit; I’ll give Beck NONE. His radio show that afternoon blasted her as a racist, but when the details started to come out, he pivoted on his tv show (later in the day) and used this issue to attack Obama. His own words on his radio shows, just hours before, showed that he was part of the mob.

  67. Scorpius is right- Sherrod would lose the libel/slander suit in every court in the land. And, rightly so. Doesn’t mean that I agree with Breitbart/Fox’s tactics, but “not every wrong requires a remedy”.

  68. Scorpius:

    “And, she’d lose. Slander and libel cases are notoriously difficult to prove in the U.S. as it depends on the preponderance of evidence.”

    Agreed. And in this case, Breitbart’s incompetence as a journalist would probably work in his favor — i.e., he didn’t in fact see the whole unedited so he could argue his intent wasn’t to defame Sherrod.

  69. Does anyone take the accusation of “racist” seriously anymore without a whole lotta proof?

    I mean, really.

    Perhaps the very overuse of the word “racist” will itself bring about a post-racial society.

    Perhaps that’s been the President’s very clever plan all along…

  70. I couldn’t say 45 years ago, I couldn’t stand here and say what I’m saying — what I will say to you tonight. Like I told, God helped me to see that its not just about black people, it’s about poor people. And I’ve come a long way. I knew that I couldn’t live with hate, you know. As my mother has said to so many, if we had tried to live with hate in our hearts, we’d probably be dead now.

    But I’ve come to realize that we have to work together and — you know, it’s sad that we don’t have a room full of white and blacks here tonight ’cause we have to overcome the divisions that we have. We have to get to the point as Tony Morrison said race exists but it doesn’t matter. We have to work just as hard — I know it’s — you know, that division is still here, but our communities are not going to thrive — you know, our children won’t have the communities that they need to be able to stay in and live in and have a good life if we can’t figure this out, you all. White people, black people, Hispanic people, we all have to do our part to make our communities a safe place, a healthy place, a good environment.

    – Shirley Sherrod addressing an NAACP meeting.

    We should all have such a noble spirit as this woman, and be glad that, despite all the hatred life threw her way including the murder of her father by racist thugs who were never brought to justice because of racism, she learned that judging people by race was not the way to go.

    In the case of the white farmer who’s farm was up for foreclosure, she did the basic parts of her job, but when push came to shove she went far above and beyond the basic functions of her job. She did more than what was expected. And she saved his property.

    Anyone who mistakes that for the work of someone who’s not really seriously enlightened, racially speaking is just as bad as people who claim Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a racist.

  71. Agreed. And in this case, Breitbart’s incompetence as a journalist would probably work in his favor — i.e., he didn’t in fact see the whole unedited so he could argue his intent wasn’t to defame Sherrod.

    Maybe not. There’s the reckless disregard for the truth standard; incompetence as a journalist does not, as I recall, excuse defamation.

  72. I’m really surprised at how much focus is going to the Obama administration over this issue.

    Breitbart lies and deceives the media. FoxNews jumps on the story. Then every other news organization. Then the NAACP falls for it. The the Obama administration, specifically Vilsack, gets suckered. Naturally we talk about Obama’s incompetence?

    FoxNews actually ran this story initially from the deliberately respond to tea party racism charges by pointing to black racism. http://foxnews.mobi/quickPage.html?page=22995&content=40911546&pageNum=-1

    Everyone was suckered by the original video. And, now, you’ve got apologies from Vilsack and the administration and Ben Jealous and the NAACP. All of whom should have known better (particularly the NAACP since it was their event she was speaking at). Everyone except some FoxNews anchors are walking back their gullibility.

    And then you’ve got Andrew Breitbart who gleefully announces that he posted this now deliberately in response to the NAACP vote in order to hurt them.

    And it turns out that there is absolutely everything right with the speech Sherrod gave. So, let’s examine the different reactions to ‘false’ accusations of racism here.

    Sherrod defends herself calmly and is in fact exonerated by video while everyone hyperventilates.

    Mark Williams lampoons black people in a racist rant he pretends is his version of satire.

    Andrew Breitbart says the NAACP need to be stopped from bringing back racism because they attacked the tea party.

  73. Hey Scalzi,

    What do you think of the “JournoList” kerfuffle?

    Is that as bad as Brietbart being a partisan ass?

  74. I went after him primarily for being sloppy and lazy.

    But most importantly, this:

    in his effort here to show the hypocrisy of the NAACP

    The biggest issue is that he went fishing for evidence that proved the conclusion he was looking for rather than collecting evidence and then concluding whatever the evidence said. He believed the edited tape (and didn’t question it or ask for the full tape) because he wanted it to be true.

    That isn’t sloppy or lazy journalism. That’s propaganda.

  75. Why, during the course of the speech, are her audience members laughing, and nodding in approval to what she has said in how she treated the farmer who had come to her for help. That seems contradictory to me. They know shes using the story as a teaching lesson about race, yet many of them seem to be agreeing with how she treated the person. Their reactions seem wrong in the context of how she’s presenting them.

    Andrew

  76. So, let’s examine the different reactions to ‘false’ accusations of racism here.

    Well, the accusations by Breitbart were false, but my understanding is that Sherrod admitted to having racist feelings against the white farmer. The whole point of her story seemed to be that she was exhibiting racism and then realized it was more of a class issue, and then stopped making it about race. And then she helped the farmer.

    For someone to realize they’re acting racist is pretty significant. Most people just think they’re acting the “right” way. For someone to realize they’re acting racist and to change their behavior and stop acting racist, is even more rare. For someone to publicly out themselves as a former racist who has reformed, in order to help others learn the same lesson is extremely rare and extremely courageous.

    I think that was her point in telling the story in the first place.

    I’d hate to see her courage in giving that lesson be lost amongst this nonsense of Breitbart, NAACP, and the Administration.

  77. What I find puzzling is that the event shown in the video was not held in a room void of people, yet I have yet to see someone in all the coverage, either in print or on video, say “I was there, and there is more to the story.” Someone may have done so in order for the full video to have been consulted, but it’s as if the actual attendants to the event vanished into the woodwork.

  78. Why, during the course of the speech, are her audience members laughing, and nodding in approval to what she has said in how she treated the farmer who had come to her for help. That seems contradictory to me

    You haven’t seen the entire video, have you?

    This was a “come to Jesus” moment. It’s REAL common in evangelical circles. It sure ain’t no approval of sin.

  79. For someone to realize they’re acting racist is pretty significant. Most people just think they’re acting the “right” way. For someone to realize they’re acting racist and to change their behavior and stop acting racist, is even more rare. For someone to publicly out themselves as a former racist who has reformed, in order to help others learn the same lesson is extremely rare and extremely courageous.

    I think that was her point in telling the story in the first place.

    I’d hate to see her courage in giving that lesson be lost amongst this nonsense of Breitbart, NAACP, and the Administration.

    Too bad it’s happening among people on this blog.

  80. Greg @ 89

    I agree with what you say with regards to this story.

    However, One of, if the THE, pivotal actions in “The Tea Party is full of Racist!” Memes is the story of the three congressmen being spit on and insulted in March. Yet the evidence of such an incident taking is lacking. There’s no video evidence, and even some of the targets have recanted what happened. We have COngressman Clyburns word that it happened, yet there are several statement from people near Clyburn during the incident that it did not. Yet the name calling incident has been accepted as truthful and repeated ad naseum. Propoganda, or just sloppy/lazy journalism?

    Andrew

  81. Andrew:

    “Their reactions seem wrong in the context of how she’s presenting them.”

    Even if this is true, what bearing does it have a) on what she’s saying and b) Breitbart’s actions and the subsequent nonsense?

    Let’s be super-clear on this: hand-wringing about “the audience reaction” is just another way to try to get away from the fact that not a single thing Sherrod did that evening justified what was done to her. It’s one of those things people are using to distract people away from that fact and to try to make this incident about something that it’s not.

    Which is to say, Andrew, that what the audience is doing is probably the absolute least relevant thing about this entire incident, and I’d rather not have that particular pointless discussion here.

  82. I’m really surprised at how much focus is going to the Obama administration over this issue.

    Breitbart lies and deceives the media. FoxNews jumps on the story. Then every other news organization. Then the NAACP falls for it. The the Obama administration, specifically Vilsack, gets suckered. Naturally we talk about Obama’s incompetence?

    Well, according to Sherrod, it was the “White House who wanted her resignation”

    So yes, the Administration screwed up. Apparently because they “feared Glenn Beck” which is odd for someone who built a tough, Chicago political machine to fear a former car salesman like Glenn.

  83. And now, probably because he’s had an enormously busy schedule, as presidents do Obama personally apologized to Shirley Sherrod

    The White House released a statement describing Obama’s call at midday Thursday following her appearance on a host of nationally broadcast interviews. From network to network, she said she wanted to talk to Obama about her wretched week. But also said she felt there was no need for him to apologize, as Gibbs and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had earlier.

    Yet more proof that Shirley Sherrod is someone we all ought to be looking towards as an example of how to talk about issues of race. She’s a better person that most of us, and I for one aspire to have even a portion of her grace, courage, and tolerance.

  84. John,

    I have to respectfully disagree with you, I think the audience reaction is pretty relevant. That said, your discussion forums, your rules.

    Andrew

  85. Oh, I screwed up in not pasting in this bit of text:

    Blogger Andrew Breitbart said he posted it to illustrate that racism exists in the NAACP, an argument he was using to counter allegations by the civil rights organization of racism in the tea party.

    “He was willing to destroy me … in order to try to destroy the NAACP,” Sherrod said Thursday of Breitbart, saying she still hasn’t heard an apology from him.

    Well, we know who Sherrod thinks came off the worst in all of this. And she’s the real victim.

  86. I think the Administration saw “racial incident”, remembered the kerfuffle about Rev. Wright, etc, and wanted to punt any potential problems sooner, rather than later. All of which was a mistake- act like a Chicago political machine, please. To borrow a basketball metaphor- throw a freaking elbow!

  87. >>DGrace:

    James Fallows pretty much sums up my thoughts on that.<<

    Thanks.

    A bunch of journalists (and others with a similar political bent) gathering together discussing how to steer coverage in a partisan way is the "least scandalous scandal". Yet a lone kook deserves a multi-paragraph diatribe…

    I wonder what the difference between the two are?

  88. Greg -

    “For someone to realize they’re acting racist is pretty significant.”

    Absolutely right. And I should have been sharper with my words. By false I was referring to the Part of the accusations that focused on institutional racism and her abuse of federal power. False, since it happens in the 80s while she was at a nonprofit.

    Scorpius @ 98

    I think it’s interesting that someone in the administration was clearly that concerned with what Glenn Beck might say on his program. Weird, certainly. Unexplainable, probably.

    But not relevant to the problem with Breitbart’s deliberate character assassination.

    And, they at least apologize and look embarrassed. Whereas Breitbart went, “no, you all don’t get it. It was about how the audience reacted because the NAACP are bringing back racism.”

    And I couldn’t be less surprised that opportunist Beck seized an opportune moment to say never gonna catch me now.

  89. @ DGrace at 103:

    The difference is in exactly what was in that article. If you’ve not been on a listserv, it’s much like a single place where chaos rules requiring you to sift through to get to the good stuff. Imagine if this were an unmoderated comment thread and some people came here and said some horribly offensive things, then said you were guilty of the same because of just participating in the conversation. That’s why the Journolist item is not even worth anyone’s time.

    The so-called controversy is trying to paint everyone with the same brush, trying to find that sliver of evidence of a vast liberal media bent. If this is the best they can do, then there’s nothing there.

    Breitbart posted a piece meant to smear as broadly as it can, hopefully the administration and now backing off to get the NAACP.

  90. The audience reaction thing is such a red herring, considering that when Sherrod gets to the moral of the story – her realization that it’s about poverty and poverty is colorblind – the crowd just goes WILD.

    I’ve found this whole thing utterly infuriating, particularly since everyone in the media – and the White House – apparently swallowed what Breitbart came up with hook, line, and sinker despite the lie he perpetrated by pushing the ACORN videos. At least the truth on this one came out a lot faster than the truth did for ACORN, and Sherrod’s getting apologies. So we’ve not hit “fool me twice” and it’s shame on everyone that got fooled.

    I am just going to scream if Breitbart manages to pull this again. Really. Because I’d like to have some faith in my fellow human beings and their ability to, you know, learn.

    Melissa Harris Lacewell was on Countdown last night and also pointed at the disturbing ease with which black women are vilified and thrown under the bus, so to speak. I think she made a good point.

  91. Sharrod has been giving a lot of interviews…but one station she has refused to appear on is the one that fanned the flames of controversy and promoted the appearance that she was a bigoted racist….when in fact, she has been shown to be just the opposite.
    Of Fox News , the only networks she has refused to be interviewed on Sharrod says
    “They have called me today and initially I had said yes (to an interview), but I thought about it and I did not think they intended to be fair in their reporting. They are going to say what they want to say regardless of what I say.” [...]

    Obviously Fox news has egg on their faces for promoting a story that they didn’t vet and for relying on news from an unreliable blogger rather than going out and doing real news work.

    The Obama administration is equally guilty for assuming that Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News was promoting real news instead of grinding the RACE ax. That they should be foolish enough to fall for the Fox Half Truths shows that they take the network seriously….something many Americans have long since wised up to.

    Maybe now more Americans will think twice before flipping on the the Fox News Channel.
    You never can tell whether they are telling you half the story…or half the video

  92. John- my post agreeing to your request crossed your post about my being an ass. Perhaps you should re-read it before you comment like that again. Sadly, our relationship has reached an end. Perhaps you cannot recognize a person goind to an extreme to make a point. The NBPP guy was dressed in paramilitary clothing bearing a truncheon. since I am white, I felt a Nazi unform would drive home how intimidating that could be. perhaps I should have said a white sheet with a pointed hat?
    If calling the police for someone violating election laws by campaigning within 500 yards of a polling place is what makes me an ass, TOUGH. I respected you, but I have to give up on one of my favorite authors. I make it a point NOT to support or subsidize the intolerant. My best to your cats and families. Please remove me from the Whatever e-mailing list. I find myself un-interested in your posting anymore. I think I shall come out on the short end of this, but principles are principles. I’ll always wonder if you ever returned to the “Old Man’s Universe”, but I won’t ever bother to find out.

  93. Neale Osborn:

    Actually, the part that precipitated the notation that you were being an ass to others here was when you were telling other people here to “grow up.” That had nothing to do with any political point you were trying to make, and more to do with you trying to score points by condescending to others, and that’s not the way to have a discussion around here.

    Others who have been around here for a while will tell you that I tell folks of all political stripes not to be an ass to each other.

  94. Breitbart is also behind the ACORN attacks last year. And even though those assertions proved groundless, ACORN still folded.

  95. Andrew: “The Tea Party is full of Racist!” Memes …. Propoganda, or just sloppy/lazy journalism?

    So, are you saying that the Tea Party is the bigger victim here?

    Mark Williams was the chairman of the Tea Party Express when he wrote this in satirical letter proporting to be from the NAACP to President Lincoln:

    Perhaps the most racist point of all in the tea parties is their demand that government “stop raising our taxes.” That is outrageous! How will we Colored People ever get a wide screen TV in every room if non-coloreds get to keep what they earn? Totally racist! The tea party expects coloreds to be productive members of society?

    This was from the chairman of the Tea Party Express.

    http://voices.washingtonpost.com/44/2010/07/mcconnell-on-tea-party-racism.html

    The NAACP called Williams out on his letter and then the Tea Party fired Williams.

    In response to this, Breitbart went looking for evidence to prove that the NAACP hates white people, or that black people hate white people, or that Obama hates white people. He shows Sherrod’s speech, quotes it out of context, makes people think Sherrod is talking about her current job at the USDA, makes people think that the Obama administration is discriminating against white farmers, and wonders if the NAACP doesn’t condemn Sherrod, doesnt that indicate that the NAACP condones Sherrod’s actions.

    In knee jerk response to prove how NOT reverse racists they are, NAACP condemns Sherrod and the guy at the USDA asks her to resign.

    So, on one hand, we have Williams, chairman of the Tea Party Express, writing blatently racist crud today. Williams is fired, for it, sure, but he was Chairman at the time. And the question that remains is was he fired because the NAACP put public pressure on the tea party? Was he fired because the rest of the tea party is NOT racist? Or is the rest of the tea party racist, but smart enough to know you don’t say that kind of stuff out loud?

    On the other hand, we have Sherrod telling the story of how, in 1986 she was working for a nonprofit helping farmers and realized she was being racist and realized that it was poverty and class, not race that was the issue, and changed her behaviour.

    And Breitbart tries to pass this off as some “big evil government” thing that Sherrod did in the last year as a government official in the USDA. i.e. The Obama administration doesn’t like white people.

    Now, compare and contrast the facts of these two people (Williams and Sherrod) as they relate to the memes “Tea Party if full of racists” versus the meme Breitbart was going for: “The Obama Administration is implementing reverse racism against whites and the NAACP is going along with it.”

    I think its pretty clear that Breitbart’s smear campaign qualifies as a sloppy journalism.

    As for the “Tea party is full of racists” meme, well, I suppose you’d first have to show me a journalist who actually said those words, wouldn’t you? Do you have a specific journalist in mind who said the Tea Party is full of racists?

    Because otherwise, you’re comparing the smear campaign of “journalist” Breitbart, with some ethereal “meme” on the internet.

    I’m pretty sure those are not the same things.

  96. Well, thanks for replying, but it’s too little, too late. I don’t take kindly to being called an ass by anyone. Telling people who whine that “No one complained, so it wasn’t intimidation.” to grow up isn’t being an ass. It’s being an adult. perhaps the moderator (YOU) should have done so first. Still, when you made your wishes to get back on topic, I agreed. That DOES NOT excuse name calling. Instead of calling people asses, perhaps a specific statement of what you don’t want to see would be more appropriate. When I moderate a conversation thread on Newsvine, when someone violates my rules OR Newsvine’s rules, I explain the specific fault, and request they change. I don’t just call them an ass and expect them to read my mind. Once you ave absorbed this simple method for dealing with people you have a problem with, you might keep people around. The only reason I returned was I forgot to close the window, and decided to see if you’d replied.

    In all probability, I have wasted my time here. But in case you got it, I’ll check back one more time before I delete this window. And if I offended you, well, I’m sorry, but sometimes the truth hurts.

  97. So who did edit the video? Wouldn’t Occam’s Razor point towards the editor being Breitbart?

    1) Breitbart released the video.
    2) He has a history, a recent history, of releasing heavily edited videos as a method of character assassination.

    Granted, this is not conclusive evidence. But why are we all so willing to give Breitbart a pass on this? Shouldn’t one of the lessons we learned from this incident be: Never trust Andrew Breibart? And yet Breitbart says, “Well I didn’t edit the video,” and we are all, “Okay, you didn’t edit the video.” Have we learned nothing?

    Hopefully Sherrod will sue Breitbart and we will, eventually, find out the source of the video. Well any of us be at all surprised if the “evil editor” turns out to be Breitbart? No, of course we won’t.

  98. Neale Osborn:

    “I don’t take kindly to being called an ass by anyone.”

    The simple solution to that, then, is not to act like one to others. Because, of course, this is my site and if I see you acting as such, I will call you on it. And if you can’t converse with people politely, by your host’s definition of polite, I would certainly agree that you are best off going elsewhere.

    On the other hand, if you think you can make your points without belittling others or condescending to them, feel free to stick around. You will note there are a fair number of people of all political persuasions here; generally they can make the points they want and yet not be rude to each other.

  99. At this point, I don’t think it really matters who edited the video. Whether Breitbart did it himself or acted as someone’s stooge (willing or no) he’s still the one that put his name all over it, and is ultimately responsible for promoting the falsehood. So he’s a gullible tool, or he’s an opportunist, or he’s a manipulative sleazebag. Any way you go, he still has no right to claiming any kind of journalistic integrity.

    Also, thinking about the “tea party is full of racists meme…” I mean, basically Breitbart and everyone going after that meme is effectively attacking a straw man. What the NAACP statement said that there are racist members of the tea party, and called on the non-racist members of the tea party to repudiate those elements. So then what happens when Breitbart attacks this straw man? The NAACP quickly jumps (far too hastily in this case) to repudiate the perceived racist in its ranks, which is exactly what that organization is calling on the tea party to do in the first place. So Breitbart’s making this whiny claim that it was to reveal hypocrisy in the NAACP and he still failed.

  100. Rachael:

    I disagree. I DO think it matters who edited the video.

    There is a big difference between maliciously editing a video with the express purpose of character assassination and merely forwarding something without checking to see if it is legitimate. At least to me there is.

    Add to that Breitbart says he is innocent and that he never saw the whole video. If he is the editor, then that must be a lie.

    The media has the attention span of a mentally challenged fruit fly. They will go back to using Breitbart as a source. I have no doubt about that. Unless we prove Breitbart actually edited the video (assuming he did) Breitbart will continue to ruin people’s lives in the name of partisan political gain. The only way to stop him is to completely expose him for what he is. And I don’t think this kerfuffle has done that. Not yet.

  101. Since I don’t consider telling people to act like adults when they aren’t, color me gone. You obviously don’t comprehend the concept of civility yourself. As to acting like an ass, go look in the mirror, you’ll see a prime example of one. THERE I was acting like an ass, but hey, someone’s gotta point out your hypocrisy. Bye, y’all. I enjoyed it until you chose to wreck things.

  102. @ Greg:

    Please don’t mix the Tea Party movement with the Tea Party Express. Just because they hijacked the name, doesn’t mean they represent the movement.

  103. Steve Buchheit and I have been discussing this last night and today. I fall on the Obama administration/NAACP fail side, he prefers Breitbart as the villain. I think we do agree, everybody failed.

    I was amused at the irony that this has fallen on the anniversary of the Cambridge mess last year.

    I think Frank @ 84 has the final word: accusations of racism aren’t going to be effective any longer. Between the NAACP’s undocumented accusations against the Tea Party, the Sherrod situation and the Journolist emails, it’s no longer going to work. Is that a good thing or a bad thing?

  104. How odd. I see an interesting discussion and many viewpoints being presented. Nothing wrecked here, as far as I can tell…

  105. #119

    Well, certainly the Administration failed. And the NAACP’s initial response in this case was a failure.

    But the accusations about racist elements of the Tea Party is far from undocumented. And Mark Williams’ response was also far from deft.

  106. Cassie

    But, you don’t blame the people who were suckered for getting suckered. I think it’s embarrassing for the administration and the NAACP that they were suckered. But they aren’t to blame for it.

    And Breitbart has a pretty strong track record for deliberately misrepresenting facts to destroy people and their careers.

    The NAACPs concerns about elements of the tea party are not undocumented. There are quite a number of commentaries, “satires”, and inappropriate signage floating around justifying their concern. And, how can we seriously sit around and say yeah, the oldest civil rights organization in the Unted States was clearly out of line when it said anyone in the tea party movement should acknowledge the video of a tea party member spitting on a legendary civil rights activist and denounce that behavior? Or that medicine man nose bone photos of Obama should be publicly denounced?

    And accusations of racism aren’t ineffective now. For awhile people will look harder to make sure accusations lead to substantial evidence of racism. But, after awhile (say by this Monday) people will be allowed to go back to whatever accusations they want. And the story hungry media will play it up for the ratings.

    If anyone is complicit in Breitbart’s actions it’s the entire media. FoxNews and Breitbart may have started the anti-sherrod arms race, but they all tried to win it. It’s just msnbc and CNN tacked harder when the story shifted directions.

    But once more the difference between Obama/NAACP and breitbart and the tea party couldn’t be more pronounced. Obama and the NAACP expressly apologized for the rash actions while Breitbart said “it’s not my fault the NAACP condones racist behavior”.

  107. #96: Andrew,

    You have more than one congressman who heard the “nigger” comment. I’m satisfied. One has to assess not just the number of witnesses, but their credibility. I’ll take the congressmen. Who is it you believe has “recanted” by the way?

    Oh, and given Mr. Breitbart’s odious actions on that issue, also, it’s interesting you bring it up in this context.

  108. “I wasn’t trying to be an ass by telling some of these people to grow up. If you feel I was, I apologise for offending you. I believe in keeping things both civil and mature. My only intent was to show certain people that they were being immature.

    I enjoy the dialogue on this site and hope that you don’t feel I played any part in it degenerating into a pointless hatefest.”

    Something like that might have people considering your position, rather than thinking that you should take your own suggestion to heart.

  109. Sadly, Breitbart has pulled exactly this kind of thing before (See: Acorn, Election, 2008) and yet mainstream media and government types still took him seriously. Even worse, Obama Administration officials freaked out and fired an innocent person because Glenn Beck was planning on talking about the matter that night.

    GLENN BECK HAS ENOUGH PULL TO MAKE THE WHITE HOUSE JUMP.

    That’s messed up.

  110. Wow. I’m glad you posted something conversation provoking during you semi-sabbatical. I didn’t think you would since it always requires so much moderation.
    Obviously you always get comments, but these types of posts are always fun to come back to through out the day to see how the conversation is progressing.

  111. On a more direct note, this isn’t the first debate of its kind. Sadly western politics has devolved into sabotaging your opponent’s credibility and/or reputation instead of exposing the flaws in his/her ideals. Discourse and respect are either on an extended hiatus or extinct.

    What I don’t understand, is why Shirley Sherrod wasn’t re-offered her previous position. Someone may have taken over for a few days but that person, if they had any integrity themselves, might feel some disappointment but should understand what the right thing to do should be.

  112. Witch hunts tend to get a lot of innocent people burned. If the NAACP or others are going to engage in such tactics it should’t be surprised if similar ones are used against them for doing so, regardless of the charges validity.

    Its my opinion that it it is none of the NAACP’s business to go out hunting for racists, especially in other political organization. Not only is it an Ad hominem that distracts from the political discussion being had, it is hypocritical of them to be doing so, since the same assertions can be made about their membership.

    While I am not advocating the sheltering of racists in any political party or organization, it is up to those party to determine whether or not it is going to tolerate people who hold those beliefs or whether or not those beliefs are in conflict with their political message. Its not like the TEA party is advocating for smaller government but only for whites.

    As a side note I think this political football with “racism” is cheapening its meaning.

  113. trailmagick: Exactly! That is messed up!

    How many people lost their jobs as a result of the ACORN non-troversy that Breitbart ginned up?

    I know Breitbart says he wasn’t the one who did the intentionally misleading editing of the ACORN videos. He blames it on his protégé. I don’t buy it. That seems laughably unlikely.

    ACORN, by the way, did a lot of good and helped a lot of people. How many people are there that ACORN would have helped, but didn’t because of Breitbart?

  114. @nisleib – Fair enough. I’m actually willing to buy that Breitbart didn’t edit the tape, however, considering that the last utterly dishonest smear job he did was using someone else’s deceitful editing. I don’t know if it will make that much difference to media stupidity whether he did or not, however. They still bought this even though the last “damning evidence” he produced was incredibly false. And the media at large didn’t really seem to turn against O’Keefe all that strongly once the truth came out. I mean, in some places there was barely a peep.

  115. nisleib – The amount of good ACORN did is meaningless. They made the mistake of being an enemy of Glenn Beck and Brietbart, which made them a target for the right wing hit squad. Mother Theresa could well have gotten in these guys crosshairs if she’d critiqued the tea party.

    martin – What I don’t understand, is why Shirley Sherrod wasn’t re-offered her previous position. Someone may have taken over for a few days but that person, if they had any integrity themselves, might feel some disappointment but should understand what the right thing to do should be.

    You’re massively overestimating how long replacing someone in a government position takes. Do you think they have same day hiring? Even internally? Hint – No. They don’t.

  116. GLENN BECK HAS ENOUGH PULL TO MAKE THE WHITE HOUSE JUMP.

    That’s messed up.

    This made me die a little inside. :( Because it’s true.

  117. Paul:

    “Its my opinion that it it is none of the NAACP’s business to go out hunting for racists, especially in other political organization.”

    It should wait for racists to come to them?

    Paul, I suspect fairly strongly that your opinion of what their business is and theirs diverge greatly.

  118. Rachael says, “…considering that the last utterly dishonest smear job he did was using someone else’s deceitful editing.”

    Hmm, that may be what Breitbart claimed, but I’m less than convinced.

    We know who shot the ACORN videos: Breitbart’s protégé. He didn’t get the videos from an anonymous source; he got them from a close confidante. To me, that doesn’t pass the smell test.

    When you say, “I don’t know if it will make that much difference to media stupidity whether he did or not,” you couldn’t be more correct.

    About the only thing that could destroy Breitbart’s credibility is if it was proven that Breitbart was the editor and if the story got national press coverage.

    Let us not mince words here; this is not about Sherrod, the USDA, the White House, the NAACP or even the media. No, this is about stopping Breitbart from destroying any more lives in the name of partisan political gain. To me that is about the only positive thing that can come out of this.

  119. I am not a Glenn Beck fan, but i was flipping channels and he said we should look at the whole video before we jump to conclusions. This was before even the NAACP reversed themselves.

    thought that was pretty interesting. Bill Oreilly initially said she should be fired based off the clip. Then the next day (and before the full clip was released) said lets wait and see the whole clip.

  120. @Paul – It is really “hunting” when the racists are waving creepy signs at a rally? They’re pretty out in the open at that point.

  121. One last thing. I don’t know if I can forgive Breitbart, but I can sure understand why he did what was lazy at best and slightly unethical at worst. In his anger over the left intentionally manufacturing “evidence” that the Tea Party was racist (e.g. photographing and filming actors holding up racist signs and saying racist things. Actors who had no connection to the Tea Party and were not at a Tea Party even), which is nearly to the level of a blood libel in our current society, he released sn edited video he had not thoroughly vetted. What I can’t forgive is all the hysteria over this slight mistake versus the silence over slander intended to paint a third of the United States population (the percentage who support the Tea Party) as sub-human racists, undeserving of the respect you give every person.

  122. Old Bill @ 123 But, after awhile (say by this Monday) people will be allowed to go back to whatever accusations they want.

    Sadly, you’re probably right.

    I do blame the administration and the NAACP. The admin jumped in when it should have said “wait” and the NAACP had the original tape – unedited. Both of them failed. They aren’t just victims for fell for a scam – they failed in their own duties toward Mrs. Sherrod.

    It’s my understanding that Fox News did not report on this until after Sherrod was forced out. Is that incorrect?

  123. Paul – Its my opinion that it it is none of the NAACP’s business to go out hunting for racists, especially in other political organization.

    Next you’ll be telling us it’s not the ADL’s business to point out antisemitism either. That’s absurd. It’s precisely (part of) the NAACP’s core mission to do exactly that. Not that they needed to “hunt” for racists in the Tea Party movement. They’re pretty blatant.

    What you mean is, you don’t like it when they do. As to why, you can explain to them if you like. As I suspect you’re (a) not a member and (b) not a civil rights hero like Sherrod and her husband, you’ll be roundly ignored as a no-nothing busybody.

  124. Scorpius – Wow, that is a lot of factual errors for one paragraph.

    1) The NAACP condemned “racist elements” within the tea party.

    2) That is not the same thing as saying everyone in the tea party is racist.

    3) Clearly there are racist elements within the tea party. The tea party just booted one of their leaders for racism. Video abounds of tea party racism (and overt lack of intelligence.)

    4) Please provide a credible link (i.e. not Breitbart or his ilk) showing this manufactured evidence?

  125. Scorpius:

    “photographing and filming actors holding up racist signs and saying racist things.”

    Mark Williams is an actor? That explains everything!

    Scorpius, if one recalls correctly, no one (and no one here) alleges all Tea Partiers are racist or behave in a fashion that is construed as such. However, some of them are, and it’d be nice for those who aren’t to call them out for it.

  126. I am reminded by all of the slanging slnging of the label “racist” of the song from Avenue Q: Everyone’s a little bit racist.

    As long as we have race we will have some form of racism.

  127. However, some of them are, and it’d be nice for those who aren’t to call them out for it.

    You mean like they have done since the beginning?

  128. Paul@130: Witch hunts tend to get a lot of innocent people burned. If the NAACP or others are going to engage in such tactics

    If you’re going to point out alleged logical fallacies of others, then I’d ask you to prove this unproven premise and not convert a conditional (two fallacies in one right there)

    it is hypocritical of them (NAACP) to be doing so (hunting for racists), since the same assertions can be made about their membership.

    Again, your premise here is that the NAACP is racist. If you’d like to use that premise in an argument, please provide evidence that proves it is actually true.

    While I am not advocating the sheltering of racists in any political party or organization, it is up to those party to determine whether or not it is going to tolerate people who hold those beliefs

    Er, but, uh…. Lemme just get this straight. If the KKK has members of its organizations that were to, just for example, burn a cross in someones yard, you’re saying that NO ONE should say “That was racist”?

    We should all just shut up and let the KKK decide who is a member of their organization and whether the individual members reflect the beliefs of the organization?

    As far as I can tell, calling a racist a racist for doing racist things is NOT a witch hunt.

    See, to be a witch hunt, you’d have to accuse people of being something they aren’t, like a witch who is in league with lucifer. I’m pretty sure none of the witches ever burned at a stake were ever really in league with lucifer.

    On the other hand, Mark Williams, chairman of the Tea Party Express, said some straight up racist things. And people can call a racist a racist without it being a witchhunt. That’s what the NAACP did.

    What Breitbart did was more of a witchhunt, becaues he called someone a witch who wasn’t really a witch. He said Sherrod was a racist when she wasn’t a racist. He tried to accuse the Obama administration of being racist for having Sherrod work for them. He tried to make NAACP look racist for not condemning Sherrod as a racist.

    But it was all based on a lie that Sherrod was a racist, when she wasn’t.

    And THAT is a witchhunt.

  129. Cassie

    “It’s my understanding that Fox News did not report on this until after Sherrod was forced out. Is that incorrect?”

    I’m not sure.

    So, your contention is that because the NAACP and the Administration acted before the news really broke, their victim status is removed? I’ll consider that.

    Offhand, I think the process starts shaking the political vine before words hit paper or ones and zeros hit the net. Making the instigators still responsible for the chain of events.

    Break break.

    Talk of the NAACP instigating witch hunts seems remarkably gauche. they’re more like Quantum Leap, righting wrongs where the course of supernatural events take them.

    addressing racism is their job and passing a resolution to have reps from the tea party address the bits of racism that come from within their ranks is hardly widespread condemnation. The only people that made it widespread condemnation were the agents of the tea party who set out to villify the NAACP.

  130. Other Bill:

    “So, your contention is that because the NAACP and the Administration acted before the news really broke, their victim status is removed? I’ll consider that.”

    I have to say (as I sort of suggested in the entry myself) that while I think the Administration and the NAACP got taken in here, they’re not precisely blameless — this would have been a fine time for them to try to get at the truth rather than try to get a response out before the news cycle is over. Haste makes embarrassed apologies.

  131. Scorpius@139: What I can’t forgive is all the hysteria over this slight mistake versus the silence over slander intended to paint a third of the United States population (the percentage who support the Tea Party) as sub-human racists, undeserving of the respect you give every person.

    OK, this is at least the second time someone tried this tactic. THe first was Andrew at 96.

    Unless someone can show me a journalist on Brietbart’s level who came out and said “The Tea party and anyone who remotely supports them are all subhuman”, this is bullscrat.

    Brietbart tried to show the entire Obama administration was racist because Sherrod was racist and tried toshow that the entire NAACP was racist because they didn’t condemn Sherrod. All of it based on a lie.

    If any tea party defender here wants to play the “LEAVE BRITNEY”S TEA PARTY ALONE” card, then they have to start with an actual journalist who ACTUALLY STATED “The tea party and everyone who supports it is subhuman”. Or an actualy journalist who ACTUALLY STATED “The tea party is full of racists!”

    Calling Mark Williams a racist for posting racist crap is NOT the same as saying “The Tea Party is ALL RACIST” and is NOT the same as saying “The Tea party and everyone who remotely supports it is subhuman”.

    If you guys can’t handle specific people being called racists for making racist comments, and you have to make up nonsense accusations that no one ever made, then you’re not dealing with reality anymore.

    I’ve had enough of this strawman nonsense.

    And I’ve definitely had enough of Tea Partyers playing the unfairly-picked-on victim card.

    Next guy who wants to talk about how the Tea Party is victimized by journalists everywhere, needs to start with an actual journalist, and an actual quote by that journalist.

  132. It appears to me that Neale does not understand the difference between “you are acting like a …” and “you _are_ a …” Important difference.

  133. Inserts general reminder to everyone to play nice with each other even as they cut apart each other’s points here. Not for anything anyone’s saying at the moment, but for where this could go if we’re not all remembering there’s another person on the other end of the screen.

  134. John Scalzi -

    “Haste makes for embarassed apologies.”

    Agreed. But, I’m reluctant to classify their mistakes as similar. Phrased a different way, does their haste make them complicit in the character assassination of Sherrod? Are they accomplices?

    Their mistakes certainly didn’t help, but I’m not sure I’d put them at the same level as Breitbart/the video editor in terms of blame.

    They may be the imbeciles of the story, but they aren’t the villains.

  135. Other Bill:

    “Phrased a different way, does their haste make them complicit in the character assassination of Sherrod?”

    Well, that is an interesting question, isn’t it.

    I think it may be accurate to say they were spared the complicity by the rapidity with which the character assassination was refuted, but regardless of that, they certainly did add insult to injury. Also, let’s not forget that Sherrod did lose a job over this — it’s a real world consequence and in itself was a significant action.

  136. John

    Who set the NAACP up as the Inquisition? I don’t think they or anyone should be engaging in this type of political witch hunting, to service their own political goals, it is both destructive and does nothing to further the political discussion, it is simply a means to achieve short term political points. Even if Shirley was a racist or had a bias perspective, her firing wouldn’t have been based upon any actual racist/bias actions in office, but simply a reaction to this political witch hunt mentality, and the assumption that she is a racist, since no body actually bothered to ask her. Even the President has had admittedly held a generalized view about “typical white” people, does that make him a racist? It does if you think everyone needs to be a saint in order to hold political office or are interested in scoring some short term political points.

    Honestly, what have we learned from this whole episode? Andrew Breitbart is an ass, the NAACP and the Obama Adminstration like to rush to judgment, without all the facts being known, and this type of political game gets us as a country no where.

  137. Who set the NAACP up as the Inquisition? I don’t think they or anyone should be engaging in this type of political witch hunting, to service their own political goals, it is both destructive and does nothing to further the political discussion,

    Then who will call out the racists?

    People have asked this before, but you’re not answering. And don’t answer fellow members of the accused; often times, through no conscious fault of their own, they don’t see the problem.

  138. John Scalzi -

    “Also, let’s not forget that Sherrod did lose a job over this — it’s a real world consequence and in itself was a significant action.”

    And that’s what leaves me genuinely torn. Nevermind that she’s got a job offered back, she very much did lose hers.

    In the real world, their haste very much added injury to insult. And that lays blame on them for that. But, haste is a very human mistake. And deliberate character assassination is a very human character flaw. And, I judge in part by the willingness of each party to take the shame of issuing that very public apology.

    Oh, life. A sea of grey areas. And, I like my grey with a bit of open apology. Which is why I’m reluctant to put them in the complicit boat. And, back around to “I feel torn” we go.

  139. Paul –

    “Who set the NAACP up as the Inquisition?”

    Who set the NAACP up as the only organization to consistently look out for the interests of a severely oppressed group of people? – Fixed that for you.

    The NAACP is Batman. The get the job done on civil rights while respecting the sanctity of life. And if you need someone to pour hate on, they can take it.

    Are you knocking Batman?

  140. Paul:

    “Who set the NAACP up as the Inquisition?”

    The suggestion that the NAACP asking the Tea Party folks to condemn within their ranks a thing most people recognize as a social evil with the Inquisition implies that either you don’t much about the actual nature of the Inquisition, or that you think making hyperbolic and not particularly on point comparisons is somehow a winning strategy in this particular discussion.

    As someone who does know a fair amount about the Inquisition, I would suggest to you that you have chosen poorly if you wish to have your argument taken seriously. Please rephrase and try again.

  141. John @ 143 – if one recalls correctly, no one (and no one here) alleges all Tea Partiers are racist or behave in a fashion that is construed as such. However

    But it’s so much easier to take a call to repudiate “racist elements” in a group and translate it into ‘OMG, the NAACP called us ALL RACISTS!!!’. Which is what Brietbart and several others (including commenter here) are trying to make it out as what happened.

    It’s advanced political derailing. Throw in some nonsense about The New Black Panthers, toss in an insinuation that a congressman was lying about being called a racist epithet, and *wham* you’ve manufactured an obfuscatory cloud that would make Miles Vorkosigan green with envy.

    This is a tactic Brietbart uses on a regular basis, and it’s being duplicated by several participants in the ongoing discussion here.

  142. Other Bill @ 148 So, your contention is that because the NAACP and the Administration acted before the news really broke, their victim status is removed? I’ll consider that.

    Consider Bush and the WMDs. He went to war over bad intelligence. Do you hold him accountable?

  143. I draw the comparison from the idea that this is a political witch hunt, thus the Inquisition, and that what is going on here (not here as in whatever) with the term “racist or racism” is similar to what was going on with McCarthyism and the accusation of “communist or communism” and that those labeled as such are unacceptable to the current social/political norms and must be purged and/or publicly disavowed, another similarity to witch hunts.

    I made the comparison between the NAACP and the Inquisition, because if they are the deciding body upon who is and who isn’t racist, their authority to do so is immeasurable, and like the Inquisition lies in some other qualitative property. And like McCarthyism and the Inquisition can be used as a political bludgeon against opponents as a means of intimidation and suppression.

    Nor am I making the suggestion that the NAACP is torturing people in the basement dungeon, although I have heard that it is quite nice down there.

  144. Also worth noting is that, when the NAACP was founded, the governments of many states were heavily influenced by violent racist groups, lynchings were common, and discrimination was legally codified.

    They were the ones who stood up to, and defeated, and American Inquisition that targeted blacks. So I think that gives them the moral authority to point our racism when they see it.

  145. Paul:

    Once again, however, you are setting up a completely false equivalency between what the NAACP did with their letter and what you apparently think they did. The NAACP didn’t engage in a witch hunt; it asked that Tea Partiers to police their own.

    I would suggest that you try to make your rhetoric match what’s going on. It helps.

  146. MasterThief “As far as whether Sherrod gets her job back, my natural inclination to forgive and forget is bumping up against the knowledge that if I was ever in the unfortunate position of having my words ‘taken out of context’ she’d be part of the racialist mob demanding my head on a platter.”

    It’s my understanding that this woman’s father was literally lynched and the next day a cross was burned on her mother’s lawn. If she can overcome that I’m thinking she can overcome losing a job.

  147. I draw the comparison from the idea that this is a political witch hunt, thus the Inquisition, and that what is going on here (not here as in whatever) with the term “racist or racism” is similar to what was going on with McCarthyism and the accusation of “communist or communism” and that those labeled as such are unacceptable to the current social/political norms and must be purged and/or publicly disavowed, another similarity to witch hunts.

    So. What if people ARE being racist? You keep avoiding this.

    In addition, this argument falls apart, rather badly, because the call to disavow racist actions can be accomodated quite easily by not acting racist.

    Your whole argument rests on assumptions that racist behavior is vague and unknowable, and cannot be agreed upon. To a large part that is manifestly untrue (and in particular is pretty much untrue when it comes to the NAACP and it history of action).

    You keep insinuating that accusations of racism is a tool of oppression. I suggest that you (perhaps inadvertantly) are arguing in such a way that will allow racism to exist without a challenge.

  148. Josh Jasper,

    Still it begs the question why, go after the TEA party their platform has nothing to do with race or is racist in anyway. They could just as easily point the finger at themselves and say that elements of their organization hold racially skew perspectives, are we to expect that the NAACP is going to hold itself up to the same standard it is attempting to thrust upon others?

  149. I’m with John. Breitbart is a birther, a liar, and all but defines “scum.” Yes, the administration was wrong to pay attention to anything that came from him, but that doesn’t change the fact that Breitbart posted a slanted piece of trash in the first place.

  150. If people had read the original article before watching the video and getting their panties in knots (easy to do because the article was above the video) … nah, too easy. OK, I’ll take a cheap shot at your analysis: was it Spencer Ackerman who suggested that you should write that Breitbart not be trusted?

  151. gwangung,

    If racist actions or racist people are so easily discerned than, why has both the NAACP and this administration bungled this case so badly?

    My argument is not that nothing should be done about racist people or actions but having a political group assume this power onto it self is highly problematic as we can already see, and in itself the power of deciding who is and who isn’t socially acceptable is incredibly powerful and is easily susceptible to abuse. A former President said that those who are disagreeing with the President about health care must be racist or at least angry that a black man is President. (i.e. you disagree with me so you must be a racist)

    Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. My belief that this kind of power is not something that should be wielded by a political group/individual/institution/government, but is something that must be left up to society and us as individuals to decide for ourselves, because if racism/discrimination is truly an evil thing (which I believe it is) and our society believes it to be than it is going to self selectively distance itself from it thus minimizing any who engage in it.

    Do you honestly have that much faith in government to correctly determine who is and who isn’t acceptable? Are you aware of how popular the Eugenics movement was in the United States before WWII? I honestly do not have that kind of faith in my government and do not want to see them or their surrogates wield that kind of power over us.

  152. To gwangung @ 167

    According to the Journolist, accusations of racism are exactly tools of oppression. Spencer Ackerman of the Washington Independent urged his colleagues to deflect attention from Obama’s relationship with Wright by changing the subject. Pick one of Obama’s conservative critics, Ackerman wrote, “Fred Barnes, Karl Rove, who cares — and call them racists.”

    Source: http://dailycaller.com/2010/07/20/documents-show-media-plotting-to-kill-stories-about-rev-jeremiah-wright/#ixzz0uSZWZH4y

  153. I keep seeing references here to undocumented incidences of racism made about the Tea Party and I have to ask, has nobody been paying any attention? I’ve been seeing instances of racism at Tea Party protests since the phrase Tea Party was coined for the movement. All one has to do is read many of the signs that get displayed at the protests. Obama dressed as a witch doctor being the most memorable but not even remotely being the only one.

    There is obvious and well documented racism displayed at many of these events.

    Hell, just go to Google Images and search the terms tea, party & racism and you’ll get an eyeful.

  154. Paul @ 168 – Still it begs the question why, go after the TEA party their platform has nothing to do with race or is racist in anyway.

    They didn’t go after the tea party as a whole. And you insisting they did is exactly what I explain in comment #141.

    As for the tea party not having racist elements in it, Tea Party endorsed candidates are in favor of repealing sections of the 14th amendment. Rep Steve King is a member of the “Tea Party” caucus set up by Michelle Bachman. Glenn Beck, in an attempt to stir up racial hatred insists that the President has a “deep-seated hatred of white people” . Beck is one of the founders of the Tea Party movement. These are important individuals in the Tea Party movement, and they’ve engaged in racist actions (which I’ve defined)

    And finally, one major Tea Party group expelled Mark Williams for racism, doing exactly what the NAACP asked them to do. Unless you care to defend the mock-letter to Lincoln Williams wrote, he’s pretty clearly a racist, and was tolerated by the Tea Party for some time.

    Is the entirety of the Tea Party racist? Is the general platform racist? No. But as people keep trying to explain to you, and as it keeps bouncing off your skull, no one made that accusation.

    As for the Tea Party Platform, I say it’s nonexistent. There is no central “tea party” so there is no “tea party platform”. It’s just individuals. If you’re saying that individuals have to be exempt from criticism of real actions, that’s absurd.

    I don’t think you’re saying that. I think you’re saying that the NAACP is somehow being unfair to the tea party movement. But you’re not really giving specifics as to how. This is yet another flaw you’ve got going for yourself in addition to your lack of historical knowledge.

    (1)Educate yourself. (2)Speak plainly, clearly, and use specific examples you can back up as true.

    Brietbart tried (and failed) to give a specific case of how they were being unfair. He claimed they tolerate racism by tolerating horrible racists like Mrs. Sherrod. He happened to be dead wrong about her racism, but he at least had part of a specific example.

  155. Cassie -

    “Consider Bush and the WMDs. He went to war over bad intelligence. Do you hold him accountable?”

    Heh. Me. Ten foot pole. Space space. Your statement. Apples and oranges, I think.

    However, I will note than I am currently considering the implication of absolving the NAACP and the administration for their actions on account of being tricked. I certainly expect more of them and hold them to a higher standard of logical clear headed thinking than the emotional knee jerk they demonstrated.

    Paul -

    “but having a political group assume this power onto it self is highly problematic as we can already see, and in itself the power of deciding who is and who isn’t socially acceptable is incredibly powerful and is easily susceptible to abuse.”

    I think you should sit down and tell everyone if a few short paragraphs why you think the NAACP exists and what you think its purpose is.

    Considering politics led to policy that denied black people their rights based on the color of their skin, why ever would they not be political?

  156. Paul:

    “If racist actions or racist people are so easily discerned than, why has both the NAACP and this administration bungled this case so badly?”

    They bungled it not by acting incorrectly if the video had been correct, but by assuming that the video was correct. And when they found out they had been taken in, they did what to date Mr. Breitbart has not, which was apologize to Ms. Sherrod for their error. He’s ooked out some passive-aggressive “I’m sorry the media treated her so badly” stupidity, but that’s not the same thing.

    You appear to be trying to transmute someone else’s intentional deception and dishonesty into something that it’s not, Paul, as regards both the NAACP and the administration. They acted poorly because they moved too quickly on poor information, not because their ethical position regarding racism was incorrect.

    Paul, so far your arguments really aren’t standing up to scrutiny. In particular, your argument regarding the NAACP and its role in all of this is, quite simply, complete nonsense. The NAACP is perfectly within its Constitutional rights to do what it has done in this case, which is, again, to ask the members of the Tea Party to stand against the racism of those in its ranks. To conflate this to inquisitions or witch hunts, or to (as you apparently seem to be doing) conflate the NAACP with a government entity of some sort again suggests that you do not have any sort of grasp as to what’s actually correct or accurate.

    One relevant question at this point, Paul, is: If you don’t believe that the NAACP should be actively fighting racism and exhorting others to do the same, what do you think it should be doing? Hug sessions and bake sales?

  157. Paul@156: Who set the NAACP up as the Inquisition?

    First you’d have to prove they’re an Inquisition.

    Question 1) Is calling a racist a racist an Inquisition?

    Question 2) Is jumping to conclusions and condemnations based on a highly edited video making the rounds of TV, and then immediately retracting those condemnations, apologizing, and offering to make ammends, qualify as an Inquisition?

    I don’t think they or anyone should be engaging in this type of political witch hunting,

    Exactly who did the NAACP accuse of racism that wasn’t racist?

    to service their own political goals,

    Which political goals does the NAACP have, besides fighting racism?

    it is both destructive and does nothing to further the political discussion

    And comparing an organization that is committed to equality to the Spanish Inquistion and a Witchhunt is… productive?

    The term is tribalism.

    What they do is wrong because they do it. When I do it, it’s OK.

    All you’ve manage to do is make unfounded, unsourced, unquoted accusations that “they” are bad people, because you say so.

    It’s not unlike all the Victimology-of-Tea-Partiers going on here asserting that some non-specific persons are making vague but generalized assertions about the Tea Party and everyone who supports it, and yet, not a single quote from a journalist or newscaster making such a quote.

    Paul@163: the term “racist or racism” is similar to what was going on with McCarthyism and the accusation of “communist or communism”

    Inquisitions. Witchhunts. And now McCarthyism too???? Really??? I don’t know how much hyperbole I can handle in one day.

    But soldiering on…

    One quote.

    That’s all I ask.

    Really.

    How hard could it be to provide ONE QUOTE from someone significant who called someone else a racist who really wasn’t a racist?

    Does the Tea Party refuse to name names because it is just so gosh-darn polite? Or is it because it can only maintain the facade of poor picked-on victim by avoiding any particular incidents… because no particular incidents exist?

    Enquiring minds want to know.

    I made the comparison between the NAACP and the Inquisition, because if they are the deciding body upon who is and who isn’t racist, their authority to do so is immeasurable, and like the Inquisition lies in some other qualitative property

    Dude, your hyperbole drive just overheated.

    Here’s a very simple, yes/no question for you:

    When the NAACP said that Mark Williams satirical letter was racist, are you saying that judgment was INACCURATE?

    Are you saying that that SPECIFIC INSTANCE was wrong and unfair? Are you saying Williams’s letter was NOT racist? That it is IMMEASURABLE? That it is such a qualitative measure that no one could possibly know for certain?

    Have you actually READ Williams’s letter?

    Are you actually DEFENDING Williams’s letter?

    And if you actually condemn Williams’ letter as racist, what is your point, exactly? That the NAACP should keep it to themselves? That they shouldn’t call attention to and shine a light on racist individuals? Or racial practices?

    Paul@168: Still it begs the question why, go after the TEA party their platform has nothing to do with race or is racist in anyway.

    Oh, for the love of gawd.

    WHO WENT AFTER THE TEA PARTY????

    WHO???

    WHAT EXACTLY DID THEY SAY???

    WHEN DID THEY SAY IT???

    AND WHAT PART OF IT WAS NOT TRUE????

    This isn’t a strawman, exactly. It’s more like a form of shadowboxing with your own personal deamons and then demanding the rest of the world believe they’re real.

    I don’t buy it for a second.

    Provide a Who, What, Where, When that demonstrates an actual case of someone in the media or office unfairly criticizing the Tea Party as SUBHUMAN or ALL RACISTS or go box your deamons on your own time.

    Until proof is provided, I’m not buying it.

    They could just as easily point the finger at themselves and say that elements of their organization hold racially skew perspectives,

    PROVE IT.

    Who at the NAACP is racist? What did they say? What did they do?

    WHO? WHAT? WHERE? WHEN?

    You talk about how racism is SO subjective, so “immeasurable” and so “qualitative”, and yet here you are, providing accusations with not a single measurable shred of evidence, providing accusations that are purely your subjective assertions and not an objective bit of evidence.

    My belief that this kind of power is not something that should be wielded by a political group/individual/institution/government, but is something that must be left up to society and us as individuals to decide for ourselves,

    OH, for the love of God.

    Why did you just SAY that you were a libertarian….

  158. Other Bill:

    I can’t set up a table so we’ll work with comparative statements:

    A 1 Bush got bad information
    A 2 from intelligence sources
    A 3 that led him to take us into war.

    B 1 Obama got bad information
    B 2 from Breitbart
    B 3 that lead him to approve the firing of Sherrod.

    How does my logic fail?

  159. Cassie -

    Scale. Rectification. One resulted in the loss of thousands of lives. Even if an I’m sorry came out, it wouldn’t make them alive.

    The spurious claim of bad intelligence. Obama doesn’t have a planned desire to invade the lives of his political appointees in order to burn them in effigy falsely.

    A whole can of worms off topic.

  160. Cassie…

    You did not just seriously equate mistakenly firing one person with starting a decade long war that killed tens of thousands of human beings. Please tell me you didn’t just actually say that.

  161. Bill said that he was considering that Obama/NAACP was responsible for Sherrod’s firing despite the fact that they were misled by the Breitbart tape.

    I suggested a comparison – point by point – of how Bush made a decision with how Obama made a decision.

    Please. You can’t believe that anyone thinks they’re even close to being the same thing.

    If my logic fails – NOT scale, not consequences, but my logic – please tell me. I’d like to know.

  162. Bush wasnt mislead by bad intel. Bush wanted to invade and made the intel fit the result he wanted.
    naacpp didn’t make the video edits.

  163. Ok, John’s going to come by with the Loving Mallet O’Correction in a minute (and as a philosophy major, I hope he’ll comment before he rightfully bashes this rabbit trail) but

    http://www.snopes.com/politics/war/wmdquotes.asp

    That was pretty clever of Bush to produce that fake intelligence that the Democrats believed years before he entered office.

  164. I just got a brand new, Droid Xtreme. Just out of the box this evening. THe thing is full of awesome! Had to see if I could surf the web, google, go to blogs, comment, etc. Seeing if I could break it or hang it or whatever. So far, it is full of awesome. My god, it’s full of apps. Did I mention it is full of awesome!

    Oh, and I stopped at the grocery store tonight. They were out of stakes and goat.

  165. “They bungled it not by acting incorrectly if the video had been correct, but by assuming that the video was correct. ”

    John (Scalzi in this case) – Why would someone assume upon hearing such a statement that it’s true and not so unexpected as to be unreliable? Could it be that such statements are common and the assumption was that in this case there was a camera in the room and quick action should be taken? It wouldn’t be the first time. For all the Tea Party racist strawmen out there, there are just as many who are on the side of right, in this case, who wouldn’t want some of their private statements made public.

    And, John (not Scalzi), take a look at Carl Rove’s recent column in either the WSJ or the NYT; I forget which. Bush didn’t edit the intel to fit. He acted on the intel that every significant leader on both sides of the aisle agreed was legitimate. When it was proven questionable, a lot of those “leaders” chose to back away from their statements and their success at doing so seemed closely related to their political party.

  166. Is there an app of the Loving Mallet of Correction?

    Ok, John. Just kidding. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.

  167. Cassie, one of the problems with using purely logic based deductive reasoning is it can lead to really really really reeeeallllly bad thinking.

    You’ve made one there.

  168. Erick:

    “Why would someone assume upon hearing such a statement that it’s true and not so unexpected as to be unreliable?”

    People have lots of reasons for doing stupid things, Erick. I suspect in this case the explanation offered by the president was the correct one: Secretary Vilsack jumped the gun and acted rashly. It’s the problem with feeling that you have to respond immediately or have people jump down your throat for not responding. And to be fair, it’s not as if the right wing commenters who jumped on this thing when they thought it showed evidence of racism would have accepted Secretary Vilscack saying “I want to examine the evidence a bit longer.”

  169. Ok, sorry John, but I actually think there’s some relevance here with using logic in the kind of pure driven way that leads to the conclusion that Elephants are pink, because Nelly is Pink and Nelly is an Elephant.

    My issue with the Tea Party protests is that I simply don’t believe for a second that we’d see posters and comments like we see, if Obama was white.

    And that’s what they should be addressing.

  170. John, there were a few – The Anchoress, Hot Air and Glenn Beck off the top of my head – who called for the full tape to be released before any action was taken. Some voices of reason out there, but you’re right, delay would have looked bad. But had the decision been to put her on leave been announced rather than firing might have appeased the commentators for the 24 hours it took for the complete video to be released.

    I’m still trying to parse Erick’s statement.

  171. Cassie:

    We agree there were options that could have been pursued but weren’t. Note again I don’t think the administration comes out of this completely innocent of wrongdoing or stupidity.

  172. You had me at [whatever your first word was]. I think Breitbart was stupid beyond belief that he posted the clip.

    I just happen to think that Obama and his administration along with the NAACP were worse. At least they’re trying to make it right.

    The victim in all of this was Shirley Sherrod.

  173. There was an interesting back and forth at the top of Rachel Maddows show on what might have driven the Administration to act the way they did. Overlearning from the Van Jones debacle was part of it.

    I’m not sure how right that is, but the segment was interesting. It worked on threading the needle between the necessities of politics and the imperative to defend of charges.

    I feel like saying to Ben Jealous and Tom Vilsack (and the Obama administration) what’s wrong with you. I’m so very disappointed. You know better.

    Now go to your rooms while I take mr. Breitbart out to the woodshed.

    I think it’s important not to conflate anger at the egregiously unprincipled behavior of Breitbart and genuine dissatisfaction with the others very wrong actions.

    And I think Ben Jealous should have known better given that the event at issue was an NAACP event. That should have been enough of a hey-wait-a-minute moment for him.

    But, there’s a big difference between making a mistake, and then rectifying it, and deliberately setting out to assassinate the very good character of the NAACP and Sherrod.

    Greg -

    I’m happy and sad for you.

  174. Just for the record, a link to the orginal post on BigGovernment: http://biggovernment.com/abreitbart/2010/07/19/video-proof-the-naacp-awards-racism2010/#more-145962

    The first video is in paragraph nineteen (or thereabouts, how do you count a line of text, an image, and another line, one or two or three?) Backing up to … let’s call it paragraph fifteen:

    We are in possession of a video from in which Shirley Sherrod, USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development, speaks at the NAACP Freedom Fund dinner in Georgia. In her meandering speech to what appears to be an all-black audience, this federally appointed executive bureaucrat lays out in stark detail, that her federal duties are managed through the prism of race and class distinctions.

    In the first video, 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. Hardly the behavior of the group now holding itself up as the supreme judge of another groups’ racial tolerance.

    And then the video.

    Someone ( I don’t know who) obviously edited the video to make their point that the audience made approving noises at her description of her racist behaviors. If such editings were new … but they’re not, from either side. We’ve lived in the world of the sound-bite and the stupid audience for at least thirty years, if not longer. I learned how to do this editing in the 1960s (using a razor blade and audio tape, and later video tape.)

    The claim is made elsewhere that the entire tape has now been released, and others claim that tape is also edited. Kinda looks that way to me; perhaps there are dueling long versions. Don’t know and am not going to look. Some say that the person who fired her was at the speech when it was given. Don’t know if that’s true, either.

    Should she have been fired? Not if I was her boss. Should she have quit? I wouldn’t have. Apologized to those who were offended at her remarks, whether in the clip or the “total” tape? That I probably would have done.

    Called for the future silencing of her critics?

    Give me a break.

  175. 192 Daveon — My issue with the Tea Party protests is that I simply don’t believe for a second that we’d see posters and comments like we see, if Obama was white.

    You haven’t been watching. I made similar complaints about many of Bush’s decisions, and he appears to be both white and Republican. Further back in history … never mind. It was over a decade ago that someone suggested I start a blog called “The Tea-Tossing Liberal”, because I was so conservative I would have been considered a liberal in 1773.

  176. Once again: Glenn Beck played the edited clip of Sherrod’s speech on his radio show and accused Sherrod of discriminating against white farmers and acting out of a sense of vengeance. Later on in the day, as it became more and more obvious that the Breitbart tape was a hatchet job, he turned to attacking the administration’s actions on his tv show. Not even the voices in his head count as voices of reason.

  177. I’ll state it plainly that I’m quite a bit to the left politically, but I’ve always thought it prudent to keep up on what the right is reading/thinking. For all my disagreement with the man, reading William F. Buckley was always fun. George Will, PJ O’Rouke, many of the folks at “Reason” magazine the kind of muscular conservatism/libertarianism that is fun to argue against.

    You can’t argue with Breitbart.

    He’s not trying to construct an argument, he’s not trying to make a point, he’s trying to set the other side on fire. Breitbart is about giving people on the left a purple nurple and running away as fast as possible. It’s about winning the news cycle, not governance or ideas or what is good for the nation.

    His whole “media empire”, which consists of a handful of pretty ugly group blogs and a news reposting site (that would die on the vine if Reuters or AP closed up shop) is built to fire spitballs at the left.

    Race-baiting is just the latest dirty trick in the Breitbart arsenal.

    Playing on the ugliness in people, appealing to the basest instincts in white folks just to scare them into thinking that, what? That we’re on the eve of some kind of race war? That at any moment Barack (HUSSEIN) Obama will march up to the podium and announce “Now! Now is the hour when we strike my brothers and sisters!”?

    What makes Breitbart and his fellows so very low and contempable is the fact they don’t believe any of that to actually be on the horizon. They know that Obama is not a socialist, they know the NAACP didn’t say everyone in the tea party is a racist. They know that Van Jones and Ms. Sherrod are not bomb-throwing anarchists. They know this. But they also know that the Southern Strategy worked for generations, and hey, why not try to squeeze one more election cycle out of it?

    Buckley famously stated that he would not debate a communist because “They lie”. I wonder, if he were still around, would he decline to debate Breitbart for the very same reason?

  178. That was pretty clever of Bush to produce that fake intelligence that the Democrats believed years before he entered office

    Of course Saddam had WMDs. We gave them to him back in the 80′s when he was fighting the Iranians and about to lose.

    Then he invaded Kuwait in 1990, and Iraq WMD’s were Teh Evil.

    We kicked him out of Kuwait and then imposed sanctions and sent inspectors in throughout the 90′s.

    The inspectors included CIA spies (This according to the lead inspector, former Marine officer, Scott Ritter) and after several inspections by US teams were followed by attempts on Saddam’s life, Iraq said no more inspections. The US told the inspectors to leave and then bombed Iraq.

    Ritter had said that Iraq WMD’s was 90-95% disarmed by 1998 when they left.

    Then Iraq became boring to the American public.

    Until 9/11 2001, when Al Queda attacked. And Bush decided that he was going to invade. In september, Rumsfeld said the link between al queda and Iraq was “accurate and not debatable.” (it wasn’t) By november, Bush tells Rumsfeld to start a plan to go to war with Iraq. By december, Cheney said Al Queda had met with Iraqi intelligence officers in Praque. (they hadn’t).

    Bush and Cheney start “stovepiping” intelligence from the CIA. Normally, raw intel would go through analysts to determine if it was accurate before handed off to the politicians. Bush and Cheney combed all the raw intel and started cherry picking the bits that agreed with what they wanted to believe and ignored anything that disagreed with what they wanted to believe.

    Cheney starts going to teh CIA on a regular basis, and according to some at the CIA, they were “harranging” the analysts to reach the conclusions that Cheney and Bush wanted them to reach. . Probably in preparation for the NIE. National Intelligence Estimate, of October 2002.

    The NIE was pretty much the ONLY document that politicians outside the administratino had access to, to find out what the situation in Iraq was like. It was “cooked” by Bush and Cheney and it was full of lies. Senators and Congressman had no reason to believe that the president had blatantly LIED. The NIE said US intelligence knew “with high confidence” that Iraq had “large scale biological warfare program”, 500 tons of yellow cake from Niger (it doesn’t), aluminum tubes for centrifuges (they were rocket fuselages), and 100 to 500 tons of chemical weapons (they didn’t). If you’re a senator, and you just read this report, you have no idea what Bush/Cheney have been doing behind the scenes, you believe the CIA is accurate, and you vote to authorize military force if inspections fail. Which is what pretty much everyone did. They were sold the biggest pile of lies in the history of America..

    So, inspectors go back into Iraq in 2002. This time it has to be a non-american team because Iraq remembers the CIA spies in the American team from the 90′s. Hans blix is the lead inspector. By January he’s saying they’re inspecting sites, and everything seems in order. February, same thing. March he says they are working successfully and should be FINISHED in a few months.

    suddenly Bush announces that the goal is not disarmament of WMD’s but regime change. He gives Saddam 48 hours to step down or face invasion.

    The war begins.

    By 2004, an american inspection team combing Iraq for WMD’s reports Iraq’s WMD capability had been essentially destroyed in 1991 (Kuwait). Ritter’s assessment of being 90% disarmed was correct. Blix’s assessment of being complete in a few months was correct.

    Yes, anyone who wasn’t a fool would want Iraq to FULLY disarm, anyone who wasn’t a fool knew Iraq still had some WMD’s. Anyone who isn’t a fool would know that SOME wmd’s could be disarmed without invasion. Ritter knew it. Blix knew it. But Bush cooked the intel, he forced the CIA to fudge the NIE to make it look like inspections would never work. The NIE was pretty much the only thing that Congress had to go on as to what was going on in Iraq at the time, and it was full of lies. Congress approved military force in 2002 based on the NIE full of lies fed to the CIA by Bush and Cheney.

    BUSH and CHENEY LIED US INTO A WAR.

    Anyone who wants to play games with history had better go do it where no one there actually knows the history.

    http://www.warhw.com/us-handwavium-in-iraq/

  179. I think Breitbart was stupid beyond belief that he posted the clip.

    Is “stupid” what kids say when they mean “deliberately fished for damning evidence with no regard for the truth”?

    I just happen to think that Obama and his administration along with the NAACP were worse.

    I’m perfectly fine with faulting the administration and the NAACP for taking action without getting both sides of the story. But they apologized and are trying to make amends for their mistakes. (much like Sherrod tried to make ammends for her mistake back in 1986 and help that farmer regardless of his race.)

    But Breitbart went fishing for evidence. And the fact that he hasn’t apologized says to me that he doesn’t care who he smears to inflict damage on that scary black man in office or that political organization with all the scary black people in it. And that makes him a gutter-level troll.

  180. The new bizarre developments are that now some of the right wing talking heads are saying that the WH leaked the story to set up Breitbart- Beck, Limbaugh, Savage, and the rest of the hive mind.

    http://mediamatters.org/research/201007220054

    I mean, really? I know that some will dismiss this cite as being from media matters, but seriously?

  181. You’re right. To be fair the administrations response that he acted rashly does sound reasonable. I question whether there would be a mad rush in commentaries to fire someone as low on the totem pole as Sherrod is, but the reaction you say could happen would also be a reasonable response.

    I was reading Fred Barnes commentary in the WSJ yesterday regarding the organized newsgroup of liberal media and the messages that have gone public about how some members tried to coordinate a national response to the Rev. Wright revelations during the campaign. Their hope was they could distract from the discussion by refusing to engage conversation on the topic and instead call out anyone who tried to have a legitimate discussion by calling them a racist. (That is hugely simplified, but essentially accurate.)

    With that thought in mind, is there any actual evidence that there is a legitimate racist element in the tea party movement (beyond the wacky fringe that goes with any movement of any political persuasion)? I ask that because it seems, to me, that a lot of the accusations regarding the Tea Party movement are no different than those made against Sherrod – allegations made with no effort to learn the full story but rather repeat only a small part out-of-context.

  182. Erick @207 wrote: “With that thought in mind, is there any actual evidence that there is a legitimate racist element in the tea party movement (beyond the wacky fringe that goes with any movement of any political persuasion)?”

    Um, aside from the well-documented and plentiful posters at various tea party movement rallies over the past 12-18 months… dude, Mark Williams? Remember him? Former spokesperson for the Tea Party Express? Must we consistently re-hash this?

    Again, because tea party defenders seem really sensitive on this front: THE WHOLE TEA PARTY MOVEMENT IS NOT – REPEAT NOT – RACIST. Pointing out that there are some significant elements of the tea party movement’s population that are racist does not paint the whole movement with the racist brush.

    I really don’t see how this is so difficult to comprehend.

  183. Scorpius@37:

    The point is: I don’t think we should feel sorry for Mrs. Sherrod as, even though she is not guilty of the specific incident, she is a person who holds racist and marxists views

    This represents a philosophy that I find very disturbing and increasingly frequent in recent years (i.e., Scorpius is far from the only commentator on the Internet to express this opinion): that compassion and helping people who are beaten down by fortune or folly (i.e., the poor) is “socialist” or “Marxist” and thus “bad”. Excuse me?

    People who consider basic virtues such as charity, compassion, generosity, hope, love, and mercy to be vices scare me far more than any two-bit racist of whatever complexion. When charity and compassion are condemned as evil because they are “socialist”, when generosity is considered folly because you’re giving value for free, when hope is considered stupid and naive, when love for one’s fellow is condemned as a sign of latent sexual deviance, and mercy is condemned for being “soft on crime”, there is something seriously wrong with society.

  184. jp@209, Dude, would you please stop trying to say that the entire Tea Party is just a bunch of racists? I mean, come on, there’s no evidence to support this insane notion that every member of the Tea Party is racist. I really wish people would stop saying that the entire Tea Party is racist because it is a groundless accusation.

    Leave Britney Alone!

  185. Greg @212: Sweet jumpin’ jehosaphat, did you even see what I…

    Oooooh. I see what you did there. *exaggerated wink*

    Seriously, though: it’s come to the point where this kind of argument shows one of two things about its proponent: 1) a ginormous case of someone needing the Clue Bat(tm); or 2) someone who’s only intent is topic derailment, in a “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! I am the great and powerful Oz!” kind of way.

    Either way, there’s really no arguing with it. Which may, in fact, be the point.

    And this realization makes me want to say, “Grr.” And also: “argh.”

  186. The most amusing moment has to be the NAACP press release saying they were “snookered by FOX news.” Did they really intend to announce that they take their queues from FOX?

  187. someone who’s only intent is topic derailment

    I just have to pause a moment in complete bogglment here. Why, jp? Why must you insist on repeatedly accusing the Tea Party of being composed entirely of Klansmen? Why must you repeatedly accuse the Tea Party of being nothing but Neo Nazi skinheads? When I’ve shown you photos of Tea Party people who still have their hair.

    Every time you say something like that, an angel loses its wings. And there are a lot of angels that have to take the bus now because of you. The blood (and callused feet) of all those angels is on your hands.

  188. Other Bill @123

    And accusations of racism aren’t ineffective now. For awhile people will look harder to make sure accusations lead to substantial evidence of racism. But, after awhile (say by this Monday) people will be allowed to go back to whatever accusations they want. And the story hungry media will play it up for the ratings.

    Well, I was referring to real people (re: 84) not JournoLists. Sure the media will do what it always does. I’m just sayin’ that for most normal people, cries of racism fall on deaf ears unless something spectacular happens to corroborate it.

    Now I am not including among “normal people” those who are already partial to believeing such things about one side or the other. You can self-identify by just examining whether or not you are more likely than not to believe a charge of racism about a member of an ideology you do not agree with as opposed to believing it about someone who espouses an ideology you do agree with.

    htom @198

    Dude. Why do you try so hard? You have to know contrary information just falls into the black hole (aka information sink). Anybody who is fair minded and wants to know, knows this already. Everyone else doesn’t want to know.

    Josh Jasper @210

    Glenn Beck.

    When having further discussions with you, I will keep in mind that single names suffice as evidence for you.

    That will save me a whole lotta time.

    When I’m actually inclined to try to convince you of something, that is.

  189. “The good news here is that the next time Andrew Breitbart pulls something like this, he’ll likely be ignored. Because here’s the thing about journalism, sloppy or otherwise: You get to burn people once. And after that they really do consider the source.”

    People said EXACTLY the same thing after the ACORN video.

    He will do this again with someone else. Right-wing media will run it again. Mainstream Media will run the story again without verification. Progressive bloggers and journalists will debunk the claims. ‘Serious’ media will say “two sides to every story!”. Years later, the zombie lie will be reiterated by someone in the right, and the left will have to debunk it all over again.

    No one will learn anything.

  190. @htom: “I made similar complaints about many of Bush’s decisions, and he appears to be both white and Republican. ”

    Good for you, but unless I’m missing something you’re not a national movement which practically has it’s own TV network (run amusingly by a foreign born person who only got citizenship because it was blocking him owning more media) working for it.

    I’d link to lots of examples of hypocrisy from Fox and a lot of Conservative Commentators about their “change” in attitudes since the end of 2008, but I’d end up spamming John’s Blog and Jon Stewart is funnier at it than me.

    So, yes, I have been watching and no, I’m not imagining it.

    Funny thing. By British standards I’m fairly conservative, which STILL puts me to the left of Barack Obama – and he gets called a Socialist?

    You should be so lucky!

  191. Let’s try to be fair to Fox News. The problems people have with Fox News aren’t with its news gathering operation. When people say Fox News has a conservative bias (or MSNBC/CNN has a liberal bias) what they’re really saying is that the pundits on the opinion programs lean more to the left / right.

    Is Sean Hannity conservative? Yes. Is Keith Olberman liberal? Yes. Do their respective networks skew one way or the other? Absolutely.

    Does that have anything to do with their news gathering operation. Not necessarily.

    Maybe if more viewers could distinguish between news and commentary we wouldn’t have these issues.

  192. Erick: I would mind less if any of the cable “news” organisations actually delivered “news” in the way, say, BBC News 24 does, or even, to be fair to News International Sky News does.

    With any of them it’s extremely hard to find the news between the punditry and I’ll be honest I find it hard to figure out where somebody like Beck sits in any “news” organisation.

    Watching him _feels_ like we’re watching somebody slowly having some kind of mental breakdown as he circles slowly into narcissism, depression and paranoia. O’Reilly is an opinionated ass, as is Olbermann, but they’re journalists at heart and within the boundaries of their belief systems they actually do some reporting.

    I have no idea, at this stage, what it is that Glenn Beck is doing.

  193. Here’s a “big picture” thing that worries me about this whole case.

    The Dept. of Ag. has been accused of a lot of racism vs. Blacks and Hispanics in the past. (I’d find a link, but it would require some significant google-fu to find a non-Sherrod link right now.) Since I’m not citing anything, feel free to doubt me, but consider the DoAg is working in rural areas and has been around since 1862.

    This barely made news. Regrettable business as usual, but BAU nonetheless. Hopefully social forces will address it eventually, rightguys?

    However, one black DoAg employee makes a statement that, taken out of context, can be misconstrued as racist vs. whites, and all heck breaks loose. Her boss fires her without even checking the evidence, and his boss, the (Black) President of the USA, backs him up on that.

    I’m a college educated white male and I find it a freaking chilling commentary on how things work in America.

  194. Erick@221: Do their respective networks skew one way or the other? Absolutely. Does that have anything to do with their news gathering operation. Not necessarily.

    Except that Rupert Murdoch’s political philosophy is based on Objectivist fantasies about how the world works, whereas Keith Olbermann, for example, is based in reality.

    Some quotes from Rupert:

    http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2004/07/b122948.html

    Murdoch said just before the Iraq war, “We can’t back down now – I think Bush is acting very morally, very correctly.” (wrong, oh so wrong)

    Murdoch said before the war, “The greatest thing to come out of this for the world economy…would be $20 a barrel for oil.” (Yeah, that worked out didn’t it?)

    Murdoch told Newsweek before the war, Bush “will either go down in history as a very great president or he’ll crash and burn. I’m optimistic it will be the former by a ratio of 2 to 1…One senses he is a man of great character and deep humility.” (Uhm, I’m going out on a limb here, but no.)

    In an effort to persuade Chinese dictators that he would never challenge their behavior, Murdoch “threw the BBC off Star TV” (his satellite network operating in China) after BBC aired reports about Chinese human rights violations. Murdoch argued the BBC “was gratuitously attacking the regime, playing film of the massacre in Tiananmen Square over and over again.” In 1998 Chinese President Jiang Zemin praised Murdoch for the “objective” way in which his papers and television covered China. (oh yeah, the oppressive chinese government as character witness. Woo hoo!)

    But by all means, please continue to assert that Murdoch and (insert other mainstream media source here) are two sides of the exact same coin, tweedle dee and tweedle dum.

    Maybe if you wish really hard, it’ll come true.

  195. @214

    # Bobboon 23 Jul 2010 at 12:05 pm

    The most amusing moment has to be the NAACP press release saying they were “snookered by FOX news.” Did they really intend to announce that they take their queues from FOX?

    My understanding is that she was fired | had quit | was dismissed | had resigned before there was any mention of the uproar on Fox, but I could be wrong.

    @Daveon: I don’t think that Obama is a socialist; I think he’s a communitarian. I think the differences there are subtle, I’ll grant, and they’re off topic.

    A White House plot? Someone really thinks they’re that competent? I’d be more inclined to agree if the White House, et all, didn’t end up looking so bad as well. If true, all stages after the initial excitement were very badly planned. Hmmm. Conspiracy vs stupidity. Hanlon ==> stupidity, all around.

  196. Erick:

    “Does that have anything to do with their news gathering operation. Not necessarily.”

    There have been more than enough examples of Roger Ailes directing his news-gathering folks to tackle stories from a particular point of view to cast doubt on your premise, Erick. Not to mention that if you look at what stories the “news” portion of Fox News chooses to air, and what priority they place on them in the newscast, the right-leaning becomes pretty obvious.

    So to be fair to Fox News, it slants to the right in its news reporting.

  197. Scalzi is correct about the “News” section of Fox News.

    Megyn Kelly is, according to Fox, a journalist. She, in theory, does straight news. Yet nobody has worked harder to push the phony “New Black Panther” nonsense then Kelly.

    Fox News is doing its best to scare the pi$$ out of white people. Fox’s message can be boiled down to, “Scary black people are going to get you.”

    The GOP has admitted to using the “Southern Strategy” for the last 40 years. Fox News, for all intents and purposes, is the media wing of the GOP. For goodness sake, Roger Ailes heads up Fox News, he isn’t famous for his journalism.

  198. Am I the only one to see Sherrod’s firing as a step toward racial equality?

    I mean, we’ve seen this kind of thing before: white employees fired or reprimanded for using the term “niggardly”, and a white university janitor reprimanded for reading on his lunch break a borrowed university library book about the downfall of the KKK.

    Now, it finally happened to a black person, and a woman besides. Hooray! Sure, it was a pusillanimous, cut-’em-off-at-the-knees response from authority, but that’s exactly what US law and culture has been striving towards for the past 25+ years, led by groups including the NAACP. Thanks for playing, and welcome to the party, Pogo.

    P.S. I will note that it’s a shame Sherrod doesn’t post here. The Mallet of Loving Correction as applied to MasterThief above might have gotten another workout for this tidbit:

    “I think he would like to get us stuck back in the times of slavery. That’s where I think he would like to see all black people end up again.”

  199. It could be a stupid conspiracy, I suppose, or a conspiracy of stupids (on both sides, to get their side outraged.)

    (Tries to think happy thoughts. Oh!)

    Or bunnies! It could be bunnies!

    (Dancing away to mow the lawn.)

  200. I think he’s a communitarian

    I had to look this one up.

    Er…. no. Not even remotely.

    I’m actually struggling to figure out a SINGLE action the man has taken that could be considered as such. Heck, I can’t really find anything really Socialist in what he’s done. The British Prime Minister, a Tory, is more left wing on most issues than Obama, and I don’t see people lining up to call him a socialist.

    Now, Tony Blair, run for parliament in 1983 on a manifesto that included the nationalisation of the banks, leaving the EU, nationalisation of all means of production, unilateral nuclear disarmament and a return to 90%+ tax rates on the rich. Now THAT is socialism.

    The only thing I see Obama being guilty of is a) getting elected during a time when the previous set of yahoos had destroyed the US economy, and b) not looking like the other Yahoos.

    Do you believe for a second that the Tea Party movement would allow the tone of the rhetoric and vitriol that’s being targeted at Obama to have been flung at Hilary Clinton?

    Could you image anybody accepting a poster of Hilary as a housewife with the caption “Send her back to the house, HER house!” or similar? I don’t, I don’t even think Palin would stomach that.

  201. I’m thinking of writing a blog post that goes something like this:

    Obama: Biggest dissappointment of this generation.

    Hold on. hold on. I’m still convinced he was a better choice than McCain by a LONG shot, especially if he’d keeled over and Palin became… good lord, I can’t even write that sentence. It’s like saying “Sauron” in LOTR or “Voldemort” in HP.

    And I’m fairly certain he’s better than HRC by some margin.

    But, that isn’t saying much, really.

    Meanwhile, he’s continued and expanded some of Bush’s worst war crimes. Indefinite detention has been expanded to allow for the US government to now go out and assassinate US citizens without any sort of trial. Obama continues to bury the torture photos and bury any prisoners who sues for their due process rights. Meanwhile, Obama has gone after the guy accused of leaking the Apache helicopter video to wikileaks.

    Pretty much everyone who seems to know anything about health care reform says that Obama negotiated with the health industry at teh very beginning and promised not to have a public option. Then he told the public that he wanted a public option, but those pesky republicans were in the way.

    And his appointment of a manchurian candidate with almost no public record of any political position to the supreme court, as far as I can tell because she is a woman and minority (and has not public record of any political opinion), just cheezes me off.

    The drawdown scheduled in Iraq was an agreement that Bush had with Iraq. And Obama went and authorized a surge in Afghanistan when al queda doesn’t even exist there anymore.

    The right wing is buying up guns and ammo because they’re terrified he’s goign to outlaw weapons, (or he’s going to start a race war), but the reality is Obama has pretty much intentionally avoided any kindn of gun control legislation whatsoever.

    And the right wants to portray him as the most extreme leftist, socialist, fascist (insert nonsense term here) president, evah!

    “change we can believe in” turned into “at least he isn’t Bush or McCain”.

    Biggest dissappointment of a generation.

  202. I think that there are several here who don’t understand the concept of “leaderless resistance”. The “Tea Party movement” has no directing authority (or at least none that I know of, and if I did, I’d probably first denounce and then ignore them) to “allow” a tone of rhetoric or to “accept” posters of anyone or any standard. Not your usual political party, not the same strategy, not the same tactics, neither orders nor orderers. An old world: stand up for yourself.

    (Sorry for the off-topic reply.)

  203. Vitriol against Hillary – would be worse. Far worse.

    I don’t think it mattered who was in the WH when the Tea Parties started. Bush’s inability to say to no to a spending bill, combined the the collapse of the housing market, made us mad. That’s what sparked the movement. We had had enough. Santa Claus could have been president and it wouldn’t have mattered.

  204. htom:

    I don’t think it is off-topic at all. Because your response is at the heart of what’s been done to Ms. Sherrod by Brietbart.

    Firstly: the “Tea Party” can’t have it both ways. It can’t marshal the resources of a major cable network in the way it does, and the rhetorical skills of a number of major TV and Media pundits; nor can it get a formal political caucus inside a major party, NOR candidates running on a major party ticket, and, at the same time, claim it’s a grass roots, leaderless organisation.

    It does have leaders – it might have a lot of the fighting for the role at the moment and there might be several competing “organisations” but that will resolve itself into something akin to business as usual.

    Second: the leaders you don’t have (Palin, Bachman etc…) seem to spend a lot of time talking about the goals of the movement, and, in the event of what they considered to be a major PR catastrophe would be on Fox news in the blink of an eye to distance themselves and the “official” tea party from anything remotely resembling a scandal or a problem for them politically down the road.

    That’s because the leader the movement “doesn’t have” are politicians, using the same strategies and tactics of old with highly experienced teams of managers and PR hacks who work that way regardless of the cause.

    Which is why, I’m prepared to bet that had Hilary been president and there were people at rallies with banners as misogynistic as there are at the moment that are racist, then Palin, Bachman, and others would have been on Fox News shouting very very loudly that there was no place for that in the “movement”.

    I’ll leave you to figure out why they’d have done that, and why it isn’t being done now.

  205. Bugger. Pressed send before I made my point.

    - The Sherrod/Brietbart incident came up because the leaders the movement doesn’t have, are looking for things to make the unacceptable stuff that is happening at rallies look acceptable with a simple, “look! They do it too!” Move.

    And that’s what caused this. The administration was so terrified of having to fight that action they over reacted and shame on them.

    I’m just impressed that so many people are taken in.

    Vitriol against Hillary – would be worse. Far worse.

    Cassie: I think it might be, but I think you’d find that Palin and Bachman, in particular, would be denouncing it – they’d still be calling Hilary all sorts of other names, but they’d be making damn sure that there was no hint in the media, especially on Fox, that Hilary’s problems were because she was a woman.

  206. But Breitbart went fishing for evidence. And the fact that he hasn’t apologized says to me that he doesn’t care who he smears to inflict damage on that scary black man in office or that political organization with all the scary black people in it. And that makes him a gutter-level troll.

    Oh, it’s much worse than that! Breitbart isn’t after the NAACP, he is vicious against a black president because he wants all black people to be back stuck in the time of slavery again. Shirley Sherrod said as much to Anderson Cooper on CNN.

    In other words, I think you may have offered Ms Sherrod an exemption from the jackass competition a little too soon, John. I also have to admit, Obama is rapidly becoming my favorite president. I expected good incompetent humor from him, but nothing like he’s provided already. He may be the greatest Comedian-in-Chief the nation has ever had, since we were robbed of the chance to see John Kerry perform.

  207. At the risk of further topic derailment, I’m interested:

    I expected good incompetent humor from him, but nothing like he’s provided already.

    Given the train wreck he took over – what has he done that’s been incompetent?

    There’s been some bad PR, but nothing on par with the last president’s malapropisms, apart from that, the people with a right to be upset are all on the left of the political spectrum, because he’s done nothing for them.

  208. The way to make Fox New ineffectual is to admit and stop the lefty bias in the media for the past 50 years.

    And also to stop characterizing anyone who disagrees with you as racist and evil.

    That would help!

    Question for Mr Scalzi. This is your blog and you can say whatever the heck you want. The Question I have is….are you concerned about losing some potential new readers due to your politics?

    We would not agree on alot of things but your books are great so no worries from me.
    Thanks!

  209. Im sorry none of you watched the whole video on Breitbart. It did show how Miss Sherrod did change her bias toward the white farmer and actually helped them later on That never gets reported. And no Im not talking about the full 43 minute NAACP video released the next day.

  210. …and stop the lefty bias in the media for the past 50 years.

    Arghhh!!!! I can’t stop myself.

    WHAT LEFTY BIAS?

    Seriously, you guys wouldn’t know a real lefty if you stood on them. Tony Benn – there’s a real lefty; Michael Foot? Defo. Nye Bevan? Yeap.

    American media? Not by any stretch of the imagination unless you twist the right/left definitions to complete breaking point.

  211. @ Anthony

    I disagree with most of Johns political views, but I don’t read his books because of them, I read them because the mans a great storyteller.

    [quote]whereas Keith Olbermann, for example, is based in reality.[/quote]

    I lol’d at that. Thanks for the pick me up Greg.

    Andrew

  212. Now, it finally happened to a black person, and a woman besides.

    You know, just once, I would like someone who says something this idiotic to have to live for just a little bit as a black sharecropper in 1920s Mississippi.

    Or, to to put it in a more graphic form: enjoy the pictures of lynching which were printed up as postcards for sale in 20th century America.

    http://www.google.com/images?client=safari&rls=en&q=lynching%20postcard&oe=UTF-8&um=1&ie=UTF-8&source=og&sa=N&hl=en&tab=wi&biw=1340&bih=790

  213. I think this has become my last gasp into political conversations here. The amount of sheer nasty bile that’s running back and forth here is enough. Shirley Sherrod is an actual civil rights hero, and people smearing, or cheering on her firing her is too nauseating for me to take.

    It’s been real, John. Thanks for hosting, but some of your guests are a bit too much for me. I know it’s a wild west frontier out here, and that’s your call. But I’ve reached my limit. I’ll poke in on happy bacon threads and such.

  214. Gerrymander:

    “Am I the only one to see Sherrod’s firing as a step toward racial equality?”

    Yes, or at the very least I certainly hope so, especially as the woman was entirely sandbagged, her race was explicitly used as a lever to do it, and to create an entirely manufactured false equivalence. If you’re seeing this as an example of racial equality in some way, you really need to think about it a lot harder. This woman was flat-out wronged in order to make a cheap political shot, because she was a black woman. This is about as far as something to celebrate as it gets, and seeing it as such is appallingly myopic.

    Moreover Sherrod’s comment would not get the Mallet, because unlike Breitbart, she has a completely reasonable, real-world reason to suspect that the person she’s talking about is acting badly as regards race. Also I would give her leeway for being legitimately pissed.

    Overall, Gerrymander, and to put this as politely as humanly possible, this last post of yours was not one of your finest moments. Indeed, quite the opposite.

    Josh Jasper:

    Understand why you’re frustrated. I have noticed that the further a political discussion goes on, the crankier it tends to be.

  215. @234 Daveon —

    Firstly: the “Tea Party” can’t have it both ways. It can’t marshal the resources of a major cable network in the way it does, and the rhetorical skills of a number of major TV and Media pundits; nor can it get a formal political caucus inside a major party, NOR candidates running on a major party ticket, and, at the same time, claim it’s a grass roots, leaderless organisation.

    I can understand that your “firstly” is a decided problem for your side to cope with, but that doesn’t mean that your premise is correct. Why is it not possible for such to occur? Because neither of the other major parties have done so? Have you ever considered the notion that the “two major parties” are actually two faces of the same “more government” party? That we’ve had effectively one-party government in this country since before Eisenhower, with a fancy charade of two-party-ness? Look at how much either party has repealed of what the other party has done. That they are in fact such an actual conspiracy is probably NOT true; but actual conspiracy would not be needed. More and more rules and laws to limit (never eliminate) third party activity, to let government control campaigning, government control election funding, … how blatant does it have to get?

  216. Frank -

    “I’m just sayin’ that for most normal people, cries of racism fall on deaf ears unless something spectacular happens to corroborate it.”

    You know, I just fundamentally believe that people are generally sympathetic to evidence of racism. And I think most people generally find false charges of racism abhorrent.

    I think most people think that even if charges of racism had been true for sherrod, that doesn’t excuse the point of the story in the first place: that one instance of racism somehow justifies, excuses or completely disproves charges of racism against representatives of the tea party.

    A good woman was smeared for giving a speech showing some very desirable human traits. I think most normal people are angry at the people who smeared her. I think anyone whose response to this incident is to turn a deaf ear to racism charges is most assuredly not normal.

    Josh Jasper

    I turned off the internets today, went out with the wife to a couple movies and came home and watched two sisters kvetch at each other while making cupcakes on the TLC.

    I feel much better.

  217. John @ 245: If you’re seeing this as an example of racial equality in some way, you really need to think about it a lot harder. This woman was flat-out wronged in order to make a cheap political shot, because she was a black woman. This is about as far as something to celebrate as it gets, and seeing it as such is appallingly myopic.

    Whoever said anything about celebrating? It’s horrible! It was horrible when white people were flat-out wronged because they had the temerity to use a word containing the first four letters as a slur. It was horrible when a white guy with no history of racial animosity or antagonism had his job threatened for reading a book — and one deploring the very attitudes he was falsely accused of, at that. Now the NAACP and, in specific, one newsworthy member of it have been dealt with in the same horrible fashion. And no surprise, they think it sucks.

    Everyone can be equal if equally beaten down. If that end state appears at odds with the ideals of Dr. King, well, that’s an indication that something, somewhere went awry. That a change of approach might be warranted.

    Moreover Sherrod’s comment would not get the Mallet, because unlike Breitbart, she has a completely reasonable, real-world reason to suspect that the person she’s talking about is acting badly as regards race.

    Just to be clear: you believe that posting and commenting about a video warrants a completely reasonable suspicion — “absolute grounds”, as you phrased it — of wishing to repeal the 14th-16th Amendments and bring about a return to slave ownership? Really? There is no other possible, more moderate position to take?

    Overall, Gerrymander, and to put this as politely as humanly possible, this last post of yours was not one of your finest moments. Indeed, quite the opposite.

    Right back at you, sir.

  218. This is a horrible event. People persecuted by yellow journalism (their remarks taken out of context) should receive an apology from the news outlets and individuals responsible.

    Of course, that would mean people like Rush Limbaugh getting apologies from Harry Reid and other senate democrats who demanded in a letter that he apologize for calling US soldiers who dissented “phony soldiers” (when he was actually referring to a person who claimed to have been a corporal and never was). And the news outlets who reported this without listening to the entire clip (either that or they just lied) and ran the story in the first place would have to retract and apologize.

    I’m just saying ALL new organizations seem like they are more than willing to report in a partisan manner and smear an individual for political gain.

  219. Well, the sainted Mrs. Sherrod seem to be a mind-reader, and seems to think that baseless slander (against Breitbar) is the way to respond to an edited video.

  220. Scorpius:

    It’s not slander in the least. She’s expressing her opinion about a public figure, and she’s got a perfectly good reason based on her experience of what Breitbart recently did to feel that way, and to say what she chose to say. You may not like it, but that doesn’t mean it’s slander, either legally or morally, and it doesn’t help to paint it as such.

    That said, I find it interesting that you seem to believe that Breitbart was slandered by Sherrod but that Sherrod was not libeled by Breitbart. I would be delighted to hear why you apparently think it is Sherrod’s words that are actionable, while Breitbart’s are not.

    That is, unless you would like to suggest you are using hyperbole to make a point, in which case I would say: What? Using hyperbole to make a point? Who would ever do such a thing?

    Gerrymander:

    “It was horrible when white people were flat-out wronged because they had the temerity to use a word containing the first four letters as a slur.”

    Yeah, this is super bad equivalency as well. As dumb as someone getting canned for using a word people don’t know the etymological root for is — and we agree that it’s dumb — it’s not anywhere comparable to this particular case, where Sherrod was fired because someone else edited what she said. Sherrod was set up because of her race, and that is salient here, and sort of rushing over that to get to an end-point sort-of equivalency of people getting fired is missing something big.

    “Just to be clear: you believe that posting and commenting about a video warrants a completely reasonable suspicion — ‘absolute grounds’, as you phrased it — of wishing to repeal the 14th-16th Amendments and bring about a return to slave ownership? Really?”

    Dude, the woman was living in normal, every day obscurity until she was suddenly set up, called a racist, excoriated across the Internet, fired, and then has to watch the jackass who capriciously fucked with her life to make a political point blithely say it wasn’t about her. You know what? She’s allowed to be hyperbolic about him right about now.

    You apparently seem to think that’s somehow unreasonable on her part, but then I doubt you’ve ever been plucked from obscurity to be made the biggest news story of a week, so allow me to suggest you may not have the correct frame of reference.

    Scorpious, Gerrymander, in both cases here you seem to be angry (or at least irritated) at a woman who through no fault of her own was thrust in the public spotlight in an extraordinarily negative way reacting like a human being rather than, as Scorpious so snarkily implied, a saint — or more relevantly, like a media-savvy talking head. Certainly Breitbart had an agenda in doing what he did, and in doing what he’s doing now, and he’s used to doing all the crap associated with this stuff. Sherrod isn’t, and unlike Breitbart, this isn’t what she does on a day to day basis. It’s more than a little ridiculous to expect her to have the sort of media saavy you apparently want her to have, and to, as you appear to be doing, blame her for being angry that her life was disrupted, not by what she did, but by what someone else made it look like she did.

  221. 2 things of note –

    1) the “unsubscribe” and “manage subscriptions” link at the bottom of the notification emails from wordpress seem to be broken, which is the reason I’m stepping back in here for a last post.

    2) Shirley Sherrod wasn’t exactly an obscure name. Her husband, Charles Sherrod, is actually fairly well known in Civil Rights circles. He’s been profiled by PBS and blackpast.org. Mr. Sherrod was one of the founders of The SNCC.

    From the PBS Article –

    Sherrod was one of the first to practice the jail-no bail policy, which became a common tactic of the movement. When ten students were arrested for a sit-in in Rock Hill, South Carolina in February of 1961, Sherrod and three others went to Rock Hill, held a sit-in, were arrested, refused bail, and served thirty-day sentences in an attempt to dramatize the injustice of the law.

    Early on, one of SNCC’s areas of focus was southwest Georgia, where Sherrod went in the fall of 1961 at age 22. Two months after arriving in Albany, Georgia, Sherrod and SNCC field workers led a large series of demonstrations that would last for over three difficult years, during which hundreds were arrested. By printing up leaflets, registering voters, and holding seminars on non-violent resistance, they galvanized Albany’s black students to rise up and challenge unjust laws of segregation. Throughout this time, Sherrod and SNCC field workers traveled throughout the surrounding counties to educate and register black voters in southwest Georgia’s rural areas.

    America as a nation is damned lucky we have people like the Sherrods in it.

    I’ll leave (hopefully with comment notifications actually turned off this time) on that note.

  222. Josh Jasper:

    I’ll see what I can do about comment notifications. I don’t actually use them, so it’s a feature I always forget about.

    Re: Ms. Sherrod not being an obscure name — People may know the Sherrods, but that doesn’t necessarily mean Ms. Sherrod is in herself actively engaged in media and etc. To use an example from an entirely different context, my wife is a known entity, because I write about her, but she’s also very much a private individual who doesn’t have the same exposure to (and attendant fluency with) media as I have. In the case of Ms. Sherrod, a Google news check of her name prior to 7/17/10 has her name showing up 38 times since 1975, most being brief mentions related to her work position (it looks like some of them might relate to some other woman by that name as well). She in herself seems to have been pretty much outside the media spotlight.

  223. The use of hyperbole in political discussions is … dangerous to all concerned, even — or perhaps especially — the bystanders. Like juggling running chainsaws with inoperative blade brakes, best left to, well, those who want themselves chopped up.

    I’m fascinated by the sheer number of people who can find motives other than the one stated for showing the speech clip (and wonder a bit about psychological projection, too.) I think the clip demonstrated the response of the audience at the speech well; I doubt that Mr. Breitbart is so understanding of human reactions that he expected her to be fired (or is it that her resignation was demanded to be sent via BlackBerry?) I doubt that it was intended to generate the reaction it has, which seems to be orthogonal to the stated reason, and its opposite.

    … Sherrod was set up because of her race, and that is salient here, and sort of rushing over that to get to an end-point sort-of equivalency of people getting fired is missing something big.

    I suggest that her speech was chosen because of her audience, and it would have been more effective for his point if she was white, spoke about a poor black farmer, and the audience had demonstrated a similar reaction. People have been diverted from the reaction of the audience, the stated purpose of showing the clip, to the reactions of those viewing the clip and the consequences thereof. Well done, I suppose, on the part of those wanting to trash Breitbart, but disgusting, too.

    I’m disappointed, again, in humankind. There are times I find it very depressing.

  224. htom:

    “I suggest that her speech was chosen because of her audience”

    No, it wasn’t; it was chosen because the words Sherrod was saying were easily manipulated by our still-anonymous editor to make a bogus point to fit a political agenda. What the audience was doing or not doing was a side issue at best.

    “I doubt that Mr. Breitbart is so understanding of human reactions that he expected her to be fired”

    Well, you and I certainly agree that Mr. Breitbart has some problems modeling the consequences of his actions. That doesn’t mean he’s not in some part culpable for them (along with others, including those who actually fired her, who to their credit have apologized to her and offered her another job) or that Ms. Sherrod does not have a good and clear reason to be upset with Mr. Breitbart because what he did had serious, negative, life-altering consequences for her.

    “The use of hyperbole in political discussions is … dangerous to all concerned, even — or perhaps especially — the bystanders.”

    Not really. Hyperbole is a perfectly useful rhetorical tool, although I agree that not a lot of people know how to use it well. But it being dangerous is a little much. And I certainly hope you’re not implying that at the start of all of this, Mr. Breitbart was using hyperbole, because he wasn’t.

  225. htom -

    “I’m fascinated by the sheer number of people who can find motives other than the one stated for showing the speech clip (and wonder a bit about psychological projection, too.) I think the clip demonstrated the response of the audience at the speech well”

    I’m pretty sure the stated intent post-mayhem was to discredit the the NAACP ability to reliably address issues of race and racism publicly.

    Or, in other words, discredit the oldest civil rights organization in the US. So, no, I don’t think anyone missed that.

  226. Sometimes the hyperbole just flies by, doesn’t even slow for a glance, rapidly approaching both of its asymptotes.

    The stated intent before the uproar was to discredit the … oh go read Breitbart’s original post, linked far above.

    I’m going away for a while. Maybe tomorrow.

  227. Posting again for the same reason… can’t shut off the deluge of comments into my mail box by using the “unsubscribe” link.

  228. Htom:

    I think the problem here is that you’re seeing the Tea Party movement as something of a genuine attempt at a 3rd party in what I agree is a gerrymandered two party system, and I see them as really nothing more than a right of off-shoot of the Republican party with some of the party fringes mixed in.

    I base this on the rapidity of the emergence of “leaders” like Palin and Bachman and the speed by which “Tea Party” candidates have appeared in Republican Primaries.

    It’s all very reminiscent of what the British conservative party did to itself post 1997 when Blair won. It tore itself to pieces accomodating the right wing/libertarian, anti-European fringe until it made itself unelectable for a decade.

    In the end another party did emerge, UKIP, and they’ve gone on to dreadful election results.

    Which is what I predict for the Tea Party, even in a fairer system.

    But I’d rather see the emergence of fiscally responsible Social Democratic Parties like run “failures” like German…

  229. I doubt that Mr. Breitbart is so understanding of human reactions that he expected her to be fired

    I can’t believe he did go into this hoping it would be one of the results.

    And, believe me, people really are that understanding of the consequences of their actions on other humans.

  230. John,

    No, a “reasonable conclusion” might be (might, I emphasize) “Brietbart doesn’t like black people”, might (Unfortunately for that theory, Andrew does have many black editorialists on his sites so that shoots that theory down). “Brietbart wants to return to the time when black people were slaves” is just whack-a-doodle reasoning.

    It is useful, though, in that it gives a window into the leftist mindset and explains why many on the left are having violent fantasies which reveal their fascist instincts (calling on the government to shut down FoxNews, wanting to throw political opponents through plate glass windows, laughing manically while Rush Limbaugh dies, etc.)

  231. Scorpious:

    “No, a ‘reasonable conclusion’ might be…”

    Small point of order: when you put a phrase in quotes, thus implying it’s a direct quote, it helps to have it actually be a direct quote, otherwise you leave yourself open to the suggestion that you are intentionally misquoting another person for the purpose of misrepresenting their view and/or for funneling the discussion by misdirection into a place it’s more convenient for it to go to for your purposes.

    In this particular case, no one used the phrase “reasonable conclusion” as regards Ms. Sherrod’s statement; I said she had “a perfectly good reason based on her experience of what Breitbart recently did to feel that way, and to say what she chose to say,” but it’s not the same thing. My assumption is she’s using hyperbole, in no small part fueled by being pissed off, for the various reasons I’ve already enumerated.

    Likewise, it’s nice that you feel moved to tell a woman whose life had been upended by an unwarranted attack that was based on her race what she ought to say about the man who precipitated the upending, but as I suggested to Gerrymander previous, I doubt you have much standing to tell her how to feel or how to air those feelings.

    Beyond that, you’re moving the goalposts, as there’s a difference between what Ms. Sherrod said being slander, which is how you originally characterized it, and being an unreasonable conclusion, which you now wish to propose it is. Which it may or may not be (please see earlier discussion as regards hyperbole), but which is qualitatively a different thing than an accusation of slander.

    In short, for the sake of overall discussion coherency and accuracy, please be a little more careful with direct quoting and shifting your argument.

  232. Scorpius:

    Thank you, and no worries.

    As an FYI, I added some to my comment while you were posting. It adds detail but doesn’t change the overall point of the comment. Do feel free to comment on the changes.

  233. So Sherrod’s anger is understandable and she gets to say whatever she wants. Anybody who questions her is either a tool or a racist. And only one side has to apologize for speaking without thinking or evidence. You know what? The whole damn game is rigged.

    Upon further reflection, I think the lesson is that a lot of people have now figured out that charges of “racism” in modern America have nothing to do with actual racism – they’re political cudgels to be used to beat on opponents with. “Racist” is now as meaningless and devalued a word as “fascist;” it “has now no meaning except in so far as it signifies ‘something not desirable.’” If the NAACP (or Obama) truly stood behind this kind of inflammatory rhetoric, they wouldn’t have disavowed Sherrod when her words came out. They only did so because they feared that it would rile up the honkies right as we’re going into election. It was purely tactical, not principled in the least.

    As to the question I posed at #61, based upon what Sherrod’s said since, I would now have to say “no.”

  234. MasterThief:

    “So Sherrod’s anger is understandable and she gets to say whatever she wants. Anybody who questions her is either a tool or a racist.”

    Sherrod’s anger certainly is understandable, and at this point I would definitely give her leeway to vent her frustration because she’s been attacked without cause due to her race, and the fellow who did it doesn’t appear to be particularly regretful about it.

    As toward the people who “question” her, I think a lot of them are indeed gouting out all manner of rationalizations and false equivalencies and specious theories about What It All Means, so that those outside of a certain political mindset may wonder if the person spouting them is clueless and/or racist and/or a bit of an ass.

    I am also aware of lot of these folks would be surprised and disconcerted to learn that they might be considered any of these things; they don’t mean to be, especially the “racist” part, and they may not be racist in the least. But, you know what, context does matter, and perhaps not entirely surprisingly, taking skeptical potshots at a black woman who indisputably was wronged will make you look like a putz, especially when you are (or for the purposes of this discussion, since we don’t have pictures, assumed to be) a white fellow.

    “I think the lesson is that a lot of people have now figured out that charges of ‘racism’ in modern America have nothing to do with actual racism”

    Well, except when they are — for example, when someone takes the words of a black woman and edits them to make it appear she’s a racist, in order to make a political point about racism. Which is pretty damn racist, as these things go.

    Beyond that, as a practical matter, white guys along the conservative – libertarian spectrum making pronouncements that “charges of ‘racism’ in modern America have nothing to do with actual racism” should probably not be terribly surprised that their opinion on the matter will not be considered definitive by anyone other than other white guys along the conservative – libertarian spectrum.

    As regards Mr. Breitbart himself, he’s definitely a tool, because he wittingly or unwittingly abetted a racist act. His follow-up response may or may not show evidence of racism, depending on who you are, but I’m of the opinion it does pretty definitely show that he’s an asshole.

  235. Anybody who questions her is either a tool or a racist.

    Much depends on the quality of those questions, the tone in which they’re asked, and the assumptions behind them.

  236. It’s disconcerting to me that this conversation started because somebody wanted to make the NAACP look unreliable or hypocrticial in order to negate their criticisms of representatives of the tea party.

    It’s even more disconcerting that the lesson most tea party leaning folks seem to be preaching from this encounter is that charges of accusations are unreliable.

    Very convenient for them though.

  237. ‘“Racist” is now as meaningless and devalued a word as “fascist;”’

    And the real racists and the real fascists (and if you can’t think of any, that says something about you, not about them) are just fine with that process.

  238. Other Bill @ 270

    It’s even more disconcerting that the lesson most tea party leaning folks seem to be preaching from this encounter is that charges of accusations are unreliable.

    I think I got that from Journolist more than from the Sherrod situation.

    I think the Tea Partiers are more preaching that this administration is reactionary and thoughtless. (Those are the nice words for it.)

  239. But this is, once again, proof that our current President is the most bumbling incompetent we’ve had to suffer through in any of our lifetimes.

    Oh wow. Does this mean that the right wing is finally letting go of “Oh, you want to elect a Democrat? You mean JIMMY CARTER didn’t teach you a lesson?!”

    I’m not really a fan of Derrida, but MasterThief @267 is doing a bang-up job of proving his statement that “we declare something dead in order to make it die”. By claiming that accusations of racism never refer to actual racism but are merely underhanded rhetorical tricks, we can a) shout down as ‘politically incorrect’ anyone who dares to suggest racism exists, and b) pretend that there is no such thing as racism at all; after all, if there is no way to point out actual racism when you see it without cries of “Rhetorical cudgel!” then anyone who doesn’t wish to acknowledge racism exists, need not do so. They don’t even have to stick their fingers in their ears.

    It’s funny that I was hearing the same line of crap from conservative white law students when *I* was in law school, which to give you an idea of how long this “na na na racism doesn’t exist except as a liberal attack can’t heeearrrr yooooouuuu” thing has been going on, was when Ann Coulter had just become the darling of the Federalist Society because she was a sexy young lass in a miniskirt.

  240. Sadly, racism is probably always going to exist. We might be able to remove it from the political tar bucket (which would be leaving the victims to struggle with the rejection by the local store that won’t serve Germans, for example) but I’m not holding my breath. Part of humanness seems to be the instinct to first make a vast generalization and then to jump according to it. We might be the “superior species”, but we’re powerfully stupid at times.

  241. Scorpius@251: the sainted Mrs. Sherrod seem to be a mind-reader, and seems to think that baseless slander

    Oh, if only you were condemning those who did worse to her in proportion to what she’s doing to them now, then maybe you’d have some credibility for your morality pronouncements.

    But no.

    MasterThief@267: So Sherrod’s anger is understandable and she gets to say whatever she wants.

    Maybe you could quote something she said that you think is so horrendous and put it out on the table, rather than leaving it to generic hyperbole.

    Anybody who questions her is either a tool or a racist.

    Provide a quote (preferably from Sherrod or one of the main players) or that’s a strawman.

    And only one side has to apologize for speaking without thinking or evidence.

    Wow. That link is full of complete logical nonsense.

    initial conditions don’t match:

    (1) Bill Sparkman was found dead from a noose, naked, his hands and feet bound, and the word “fed” scrawled on his chest. The cause of his death was initially unknown.

    (2) Sherrod gave a speech, which was videotaped, and someone edited it completely out of context. What she said was known, but someone hid it.

    the reporting are completely different:

    (1) ThinkProgress talks about how Michele Bachmann waged a highly dishonest campaign against the Census. That’s a fact. I don’t think ThinkProgress ever said that Bachmann actually killed Sparkman.

    (2) Breitbart took out of context video tape and didn’t even bother to confirm anything and started adding his own spin (that she was talking about something she’d done in the USDA now, rather than that she was talking about someting from twenty years ago). i.e. Someone purposely misquoted her, and then Breitbart went and made up a backstory to fit the point he wanted to make.

    And this guy you link to, this “Legal Insurrection” nutjob, says that *HE* personally is waiting for an apology from ThinkProgress?

    Meanwhile, Breitbart STILL hasn’t apologized for making up a backstory from an out of context videotape?

    And this LegalInsurection guy is claiming moral equivalence?

    You know what’s funny? Everytime some Tea Party member comes out and says “Stop calling the Tea Party crazy!” they end up doing so in a way that makes it fairly clear that they’re a member of the Tea Party, and crazy.

    Just like this guy.

  242. ….wow…

    Sherrod: Sheriff Claude Screws lynched a black man.

    Jeffrey Lord on American Spectator: Liar! Actually Sheriff Claude Screws beat a man to death. There was no lynching! Why did she say this? “It’s also possible that she knew the truth and chose to embellish it, changing a brutal and fatal beating to a lynching.”

    Someone in comments already pointed out to this clueless fcuk that “lynch” doesn’t mean “to hang”.

    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lynch:

    to put to death (as by hanging) by mob action without legal sanction

    Again, the Rightwing nutjobs come back with cries of moral equivalence about something completely un-equivalent. Hey! Don’t pick on Brietbart! He may have lied, but look! So did Sherrod!

    never mind that “et tu” is a specific logical fallacy.

    Never mind that this moron is trying to make (1) Brietbart lying abotu what happened to someone else in order to smear the NAACP and the Obama administration with no concern to what happens to Sherrod, all of it based on a purposely out of context video, morally equivalent to (2) Sherrod talking about the court supported FACT that her relative was beaten to death by police for being black.

    Never mind this moron was so fired up to write a three page attack screed that he didn’t bother to check the vocabulary upon which his entire attack hinges.

    The gall this idiot needs to think that having a relative murdered by hanging for being black is morally different than having a relative murdered by lead pipe for being black just boggles the mind.

    Once again, the right wing nutjobs in trying to defend the Right merely prove they’re nutjobs.

    If the Democrats are paying attention at all, all they’d have to do is quote these morons, and they’ve got the basis for their reelection campaigns right there.

  243. Also in the Jeffrey Lord screed:

    “First, [Sherrod] can visit the Supreme Court of the United States, and ponder the connection between progressivism and racism.”

    Yeah, apparently Lord thinks that not only is Sherrod a liar, but she is also stupid. It’s real classy when people write screeds hoping to clue in a seemingly nice enough person to the fact that they are blithely supporting their own oppressors.

    Or, to put it another way: “Glenn Beck makes how much money?” asked Jeffrey Lord.

  244. I pretty much agree with the host here, even though I’m on the other side of the political aisle, and I thought Breitbart’s ACORN videos were fair and crushing.

    Frankly, I think you could use this whole thing as a test to see if politics has made you stupid:

    1. Did the ACORN videos show that ACORN workers were willing to help a pimp run a child prostitution ring?

    2. Is Andrew Breitbart an untrustworthy douche for running a disingenuous video, then acting like it doesn’t matter that it slandered an innocent woman?

    Looking at blogs on both sides, pretty much everyone’s lost their minds. Politics as usual.

  245. In the test above, I think I failed the first question. I had actually believed the early reporting and would have answered “yes” to it before doing some research

    Later reports that didn’t make the front page make it clear that Breitbart’s Acorn pimp video was just as creatively edited as the Sherrod video.

    O’Keefe is shown in 70s era pimping clothes at the start and close of that video, but he never appeared at Acorn in those clothes, he wore a shirt and tie. At no point in the actual tape does he say he’s a pimp.

    Instead, it seems to portray O’Keefe as a college student trying to get help for an abused prostitute from Acorn.

    Breitbart now says that he never saw the unedited tapes and is shocked that he was misled. So the answer to question #2 is certainly yes.

    Acorn’s people did a number of questionable things, but it looks like the expose that killed them was a hatchet job.

  246. I thought Breitbart’s ACORN videos were fair and crushing.

    So you don’t think that they might also have been shown with a lot of context removed too then???

    i.e….

    1. Did the ACORN videos show that ACORN workers were willing to help a pimp run a child prostitution ring?

    No. They appeared to show that, but that’s not actually what they showed.

    I take it you didn’t see all the follow up where the guy who looked like he was willing to help, passed all the details gathered in the call over to his cousin in the Tijuana PD and another cop in the SDPD who handles human smuggling?

    If you watch the whole video the guy at Acorn San Diego spends most of the video gathering as much information as he can on their plans with, frankly, a bemused expression on his face that they were being so completely daft as to give it to him.

    Maddow did a fairly clear analysis of the unedited videos (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0B0wxt3XYc), the California stuff is starts about 3:00 in.

    If you watch earlier, you’ll see they freeze frame the reflection shot where it reveals that the “pimp” was actually dressed in a normal dress shirt and not as a 70s movie character.

  247. Oh, and the SD Acorn guy? He’s suing too over his lost job and the fact that it’s illegal in the State of California to secretly tape people and then show it in public.

    I suspect Mr O’Keefe, between this, and his little gag in that Congresspersons office, is going to have a lot of time to get to know how courts work.

  248. Did you read into the comments where he defends his position by saying, it isn’t me that made the racist ruling. It was the progressives on the court.

    So you see, all your arguments about how he’s acting like an ignorant, at best, racist dickhole at worst, is a reflection on progressives and their racism.

    Also, Atticus Lord? Really? It’s like Mark Williams didn’t just do this.

  249. @ 91 Why, during the course of the speech, are her audience members laughing, and nodding in approval to what she has said in how she treated the farmer who had come to her for help. That seems contradictory to me. They know shes using the story as a teaching lesson about race, yet many of them seem to be agreeing with how she treated the person. Their reactions seem wrong in the context of how she’s presenting them.

    It’s a very churchy reaction, to my mind. I saw it a lot back in my quite religious days, and with people who are predominantly churchgoing the mannerisms carry over into secular activities. In a typical testimony, the minister (speaker) describes the sin, the congregation (audience) responds in recognition of that wrong behavior, perhaps in others, perhaps in themselves. It does not necessarily signify condoning of the behavior. For that you’d probably need to go interview the audience members. You could also compare/contrast this reaction with their reaction to her talking about her epiphany and attitude change.

  250. @92 Well, the accusations by Breitbart were false, but my understanding is that Sherrod admitted to having racist feelings against the white farmer. The whole point of her story seemed to be that she was exhibiting racism and then realized it was more of a class issue, and then stopped making it about race. And then she helped the farmer.

    For someone to realize they’re acting racist is pretty significant. Most people just think they’re acting the “right” way. For someone to realize they’re acting racist and to change their behavior and stop acting racist, is even more rare. For someone to publicly out themselves as a former racist who has reformed, in order to help others learn the same lesson is extremely rare and extremely courageous.

    YES. This is more than just the point, this is the GOAL. This is why it’s completely un-useful to respond to accusations of racism with automatic gainsaying “No no no I am a good person!!”, or to act like the word “Racist” is the scariest, awfullest, worst slur ever and should be buried and denied. It should NOT be buried and denied. The whole point of discourse on race is to realize that institutionalized racism is a problem, that it affects all of us adversely, that we all have prejudices and that we all have the responsibility to be aware of them (it’s not always possible to just no have them) and to take steps to correct and compensate for our behavior. This is exactly what Sherrod did.

  251. JRM @280, dismissing everybody else as (equally) silly, hysterical and pointless is a good way to position oneself as the Golden Mean, although I think Ross Douthat has the paid version of that nailed down right now. It’s not much of an actual point, though.

  252. Mythago:

    Oh, I’m not one to say that the middle is often the right place to be. I’m just saying that sticking to one’s side is petty tribalism, and there’s one hell of a lot of it.

    My “side” is doing a convincing impression of dishonest douchebags. No one is saying, “We’re sorry. We screwed up severely.” It annoys me. A lot.

    –JRM

  253. JRM @ 280: The ACORN tapes were the same kind of context-free, carefully-edited smear job that Breitbart committed against Sherrod. It’s not a secret.

  254. I think it’s fascinating to see the concern over the fairness of the editing change as the targets change. Humans are, indeed, the rationalizing animal.

  255. @htom: it has nothing to do with fairness of editing.

    Andrew Breitbart has destroyed Acorn, lost the people who worked for them (regardless of what you think of them) their jobs and, for the time being, reduced those services. He has gone on to then almost trash the career of what looks like a diligent and hardworking woman. For that, he’s getting a podium call with the Chairman of the RNC.

    I’m failing to see where Breitbart, or, for that matter, Jeff Lord, are being remotely sanctioned for being objectionable liars.

    In fact, it’s all remarkably one way.

  256. JRM @290: “My side, right or wrong, and we’re never wrong” is petty tribalism. I’m just not seeing that there are two equally wrong opposing sides here. On one side we have people who deliberately edited a tape to produce a lie, people who passed on that tape as true and are now spouting nonsense about why it’s OK that they did; on the other side we have people who swallowed the con and then, when they found out they’d been conned, fessed up, apologized and tried to do right.

  257. Greg@92: For someone to publicly out themselves as a former racist who has reformed, in order to help others learn the same lesson is extremely rare and extremely courageous.

    Mac@288: YES. This is more than just the point, this is the GOAL. This is why it’s completely un-useful to respond to accusations of racism with automatic gainsaying “No no no I am a good person!!”

    As long as the accusation of racism is true, sure.

    The accusation that Sherrod is an active racist in the USDA got her fired and wasn’t true. I believe Sgt. James Crowley (the officer who arrested Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. and ended up having a beer with Obama and Gates) wasn’t actually racist, even though that seems to have been the initial howls and cries. I’d say he was acting stupidly in response to someone challenging his authority, but I don’t think he was motivated by racism.

    What I was talking about was someone having an epiphany and confessing to racist tendancies.

    Once you change the dynamic to someone accusing someone else of being racist, that’s a whole other kettle of fish.

    If I confess to having racist tendancies and beg forgiveness, I have the advantage of being able to peer into my own soul and seeign its dark corners and shadows.

    Lots of people refuse to look inward like that. But no one else can do it. It’s why there’s a difference between “you are a racist” and “that thing you did was racist”.

    There is almost no personal payoff or incentive to publicly confess to having racist thoughts or motives. People tend to err on the side of not confessing unless they absolutely have to.

    There IS personal incentive and motives to publicly ACCUSE someone ELSE of racism. And sometimes the incentive outweighs the truth for some people.

  258. I think it’s sad that we can’t talk about race/racism in this country without a shouting match. If someone admits that they DO have racist feelings but that they fight them and help everyone to the best of their ability then they shouldn’t be demonized(I realize this isn’t what happened to Sherrod but it needs saying). LBJ wasn’t exactly the most enlightened man in the world and look at what he got done at home.

  259. @Mac: That’s what I got from it too. In poorer areas that are predominantly baptist the preacher tends to be the master of language there. Call and response and what not. I’m not religious but their command of language and cadence is admirable.

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