[Marxism] The heroism of Shirley Sherrod, the sleaze of Fox, the cowardice of Obama

Dennis Brasky dmozart1756 at gmail.com
Wed Jul 21 23:06:49 MDT 2010

> Wednesday, Jul 21, 2010 09:22 ET
> The heroism of Shirley Sherrod
> By Glenn Greenwald
> http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/20
> 10/07/21/sherrod/index.html
> Everyone is presumably aware by now of the facts surrounding the disgusting
> fraud perpetrated on Shirley Sherrod, engineered by Andrew Breitbart,
> amplified by Fox News, and meekly submitted to by the Obama administration.
> Those who aren't can read excellent commentary from Jamelle Bouie, Joan
> Walsh, and Chris Martinez. Much has been written about the incomparable
> sleaze of Breitbart, the standard propaganda boost from Fox News, and the
> typical cowardice of the administration in the face of such attacks. All of
> that is well established by now and quite unsurprising, so I want to focus
> on what ought to be the enduring lesson from this ugly episode: the courage
> of Shirley Sherrod.
> Just as CNN fired Octavia Nasr for one of the few insightful and
> interesting observations she ever voiced about the Middle East, Sherrod's
> speech -- which caused her to be fired -- is simply inspiring in its
> uncommon candor, courage and wisdom. Few people are willing so publicly to
> confess to tribal biases and detail how they struggle to overcome them, even
> though that's a challenge which any person who evolves at some point must
> confront. That process -- far more than the pretense of having always been
> bias-free -- requires difficult self-examination, and its public discussion
> offers vitally needed lessons for everyone. Many people are unwilling ever
> to engage that process privately, let alone candidly describe it publicly.
> Those with the courage to do so, like Sherrod, should be heralded for that
> candor. Instead, she was slandered, falsely disparaged, and fired.
> Contrary to the excuse being offered by those who did all of that, her
> actual message -- that she was plagued by racial biases decades ago and
> overcame them with the recognition that it is poverty that unites people in
> need -- was clearly evident even from the deceitfully edited Breitbart
> video. This is part of what she said on that edited video:
> That's when it was revealed to me that it's about poor versus those who
> have. And not so much about white. It is about white and black, but you know
> -- it opened my eyes.
> But -- just as happened with Octavia Nasr and so many before her, including
> the now-destroyed ACORN -- the blinding, lying, depressingly common
> right-wing hysteria churned out by Brietbart/Fox meant that no nuances were
> permitted, no reason could breathe, and few people had the courage to defend
> Sherrod or even demand that she be allowed to speak before being thrown to
> the trash heap.
> And that's where the truly significant and rare courage of Sherrod becomes
> so consequential. Unlike so many who are caught in similar right-wing/media
> smear storms and (understandably) back down, Sherrod refused to meekly slink
> away. She conspicuously refused to apologize for things that merited no
> apology. Rather than legitimize the accusations with defensive
> self-justifications, she put the blame squarely where it belonged: on
> Brietbart, on the NAACP for condemning her without all the facts, and on the
> Obama administration for demanding her "resignation." And as a result of her
> refusal to allow these false smears to go unchallenged and the low-life
> smear artists to be rewarded, the true facts have emerged. The actual
> culprits in this episode -- basically everyone except her and the white
> couple who came forward to defend her -- are clearly identified and exposed,
> with their credibility in tatters. And it's hard to imagine the
> administration's not reversing itself and offering to re-hire her, thus
> being forced to reverse a serious injustice.
> As much value as Sherrod's NAACP speech has for everyone, her conduct in
> the face of this massive onslaught is even more instructive. It ought to
> serve as a template for how people respond to all of these low-life,
> right-wing smear campaigns: with unapologetic clarity and resolve about who
> the actual wrongdoers are. To the extent the gross injustice of her firing
> is reversed and the slander to which she was subjected is nullified, it will
> only be because she stood up to the right-wing smear machine, the
> establishment media, and even the Executive Branch, which were all jointly
> operating -- with different motives -- to destroy her. That isn't easy to
> do, but this is obviously a woman with uncommon courage and principle --
> exactly what is required to stand up to and expose the group of thuggish
> bullies trying to smear her and the cowardly government officials willing to
> play along. This will be an extremely valuable episode if her conduct
> inspires future targets of such smears to respond with similar defiance.
> UPDATE: Numerous people have inquired about the prospects of Sherrod suing
> Breitbart and others responsible for how she was slandered. My view on that
> question is here.
> UPDATE II: Here's Sherrod this morning explaining why she won't go on Fox
> News and what that "news outlet" is really up to. They really picked the
> wrong victim this time.
> UPDATE III: White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and Agriculture
> Secretary Tom Vilsack did the right thing today, which was actually the only
> thing they could have done in light of the fraud that was exposed:
> apologized to Sherrod and (in Vilsack's case) offered her job back to her.
> Meanwhile, Shepard Smith, one of the very, very few people at Fox News with
> any inclination toward actual journalism, explained why he refused to show
> or even mention the edited Sherrod tape yesterday even when the rest of Fox
> was doing so non-stop: because, among other things, he does not trust the
> "source" of the video (Breitbart) in light of his history

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