I’ve been following the whole Andrew Breitbart vs. the NAACP/Obama Administration dustup involving the videotape of Shirley Sharrod of the USDA admitting to racial discrimination in carrying out her past duties before an audience at an NAACP event, and it’s just unpleasant. Brietbart has a point, of course – Sharrod’s admissions of racism do garner murmurs of approval from the crowd, which is awful. Critics of Brietbart have a point as well when they note that the statements made by Sharrod in the video clip released by Brietbart were tempered somewhat by her later comments in the address. But Brietbart supporters also have a point when they respond by saying that the whole point of releasing the video clip in the first place was not to go after Sharrod, but to point out the approving reaction of the NAACP crowd to the awful things Sharrod was saying. And almost everyone agrees that the White House acted too quickly in dismissing her from her job.
Opinion on Sharrod have whipsawed from her being a contemptible villain to her being a blameless victim over the course of just a few days. With reflection, it seems that neither position is totally correct; she certainly has been victimized to some extent, but she’s certainly not the angel she’s being portrayed as at this moment. I’m inclined to agree with Andy McCarthy at NRO, who comments on the contents of the full video of Sharrod’s speech, which still makes her look bad:
So, in Sherrod World, mean-spririted, racist Republicans do nasty things that “we” would never do because we have a president who, being black, is above that stuff. Still, we have-nots need to band together for “change” because a cabal of haves, desperate to keep their power, is still imposing their centuries old capitalist system of institutionalized racism — the same racism that courses through the Republican Party and surfaces on “us versus them” issues like healthcare.
Pardon me, but I think I’ll stay off the Canonize Shirley bandwagon. To me, it seems like she’s still got plenty of racial baggage. What we’re seeing is not transcendence but transference. That’s why the NAACP crowd reacted so enthusiastically throughout her speech.
With an ever-expanding federal bureaucracy assuming overlord status in what used to be private industry and private matters, are we supposed to feel better that this particular bureaucrat’s disdain, though once directed at all white people, is now channeled only toward successful white people … most of whom — like successful black people — worked very hard to become successful? Are we supposed to forget that when the Left says, “It’s always about the money,” you don’t have to have a whole lot of money to find yourself on the wrong side of their have/have-not equation? Are we supposed to take comfort in having our affairs managed by bureaucrats who see the country as a Manichean divide beset by institutionalized racism?
At the very least, Sharrod seems to have some toxic ideas about the American political and economic system guiding her actions. Is it possible for people with toxic ideas to be treated badly? Yes. Does that mean that those people should be absolved of responsibility for or shielded from criticism of their ideas? Absolutely not.