Friday, July 23, 2010

shirley sharrod and "black racism"

it really is unbelievable. not the malicious attack on a righteous and innocent woman. that's slimy, evil, disgusting--but believable. this comes from the same crowd that gave us obama as leftwing terrorist-foreigner-muslim-wanna-be-killer-of-the-elderly and generally everything they perceive as evil. if this crew ever embraced truth, they have long since abandoned it. nor have their lies ever been subtle.

so, no, there's nothing surprising about Fox News getting an edited tape from one of their own that appears to show a black liberal woman admitting to discriminating against poor white farmers.

what is shocking is the way in which the white house and the NAACP--the NAACP!--rushed to act on this Rreport," and demand that shirley sharrod, white-hating black racist, instantly resign her position as the president's Director of Rural Development. there's no room in our government, no room in our civil rights movement, for this dangerous woman. so dangerous, in fact, that we can't even wait to fire her in person. make her pull over in her car, and instantly 'resign.' she can't be permitted to drive home or to the supermarket or wherever she was going, until she resigns. did they think she was driving off to commit another act of brutal racism? i'm surprised they stopped at that. why didn't they just arrest her?

or lynch her?

yeah, i know that sounds melodramatic. she wasn't killed, she wasn't beaten, there was no threat of physical violence. i shouldn't exaggerate.

but nothing exists in a vacuum. history creates context. and the history that informs this whole incident is the history of the lynch mob, the slave ships, the very real racism that permeates our society as it always has. fox news is right about one thing: this story is absolutely about racism. racism so engrained that, when a black woman is accused of an offense against white people, then even white liberals--even some black liberals--will jump to the conclusion that she is guilty, and guilty of something very evil indeed. in the old days, when bigots knew they would get away with it, they would have branded her an uppity negro. now they are shrewd enough to use the language of anti-bigotry against her instead.

how could obama, his white house appointees, or the naacp not have known that, or at least suspected it, right away? this wasn't a report coming from bill moyers, or cnn news, or even some local newscast. it came from fox news, famous for distorted 'news' reports. how could they fail to at least do what any Journalism 101 student would have learned, what is built into our basic legal system? check the facts, make sure that what you're told really happened. innocent until proven guilty. how in this high tech era could it not occur to them that maybe there was more on the original tape, that she could not have simply walked into this naacp meeting, announced that she didn't care about poor white farmers, and then left? the woman was giving a speech. and somewhere the rest of the tape would exist, and would either have proved her accusers right or exonerated her.

i would like to see at least one good thing to come out of this, and that is the refusal to allow the right to take over the language of oppression. remember back in primaries, when the hitherto unknown alaskan governor hit the scene? remember her use of her children to further her career? and remember her pride in announcing that when she had learned the child she was bearing would have Down's Syndrome, she "chose" (heavily stressed) to continue her pregnancy? wild applause all around her, while she triumphantly smiled as though she had won a point over those liberal feminists--as if a gang of NARAL members were going to march in screaming 'kill the fetus.' and suddenly we all had to make sure that the world knows that we really beleived she made a wonderful choice, a choice that honored all womanhood. Thus she the facts that she opposed choice and that anyone who described themselves as 'pro choice' would of course support the choice she had made were virtually erased.

this distortion, as far as i can tell, had no lasting effects. the co-optation of the word 'racism' has had a different history. a dictionary definition might define 'racism' as any dislike of another person because of their race. but 'racism' is not an old word; it was a word that came out of the civil rights movement--out of the specific history of white oppressing blacks. it's a word that implicitly addresses power and the ability to use that power against others. a black person who dislikes whites generically may be wrong, rude, bigoted, and may act this out in ways dangerous enough to require restraint. but s/he does not have a history of the ability to legally and socially impose the effects of that dislike on the disliked group. black people in america did not own white people; they did not force white people into specific toilets or the back of the bus. white men were not dragged to trees and lynched because they were suspected of having sex with black women, or because they owned too much property. this isn't a simple reversal; i don't like tall people and you don't like short people. well, gee, let's just both fight against our foolish prejudices. maybe in some far-off future, it will become that. it hasn't yet.


if anything proves that america has not outlived its racist history, it is this: in the name of fighting racism, a group of white people co-opt a black president and a civil rights organization into punishing a black woman without benefit of trial, or even of basic investigation. if glen beck calls it racism, it must be racist. well, he certainly does know about racism; he's practiced it long enough. it would appear that he's in good company.

1 comment:

Ken G. said...

Historical context is everything. But most people's idea of history is the last three months. And that's ancient history.