FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Comic Strip Politics

American politics has turned into the comic strip Peanuts, with the liberal Charlie Brown attempting to kick a football while the conservative Lucy pulls it away from him for the thousandth time.

Nothing better illustrates a politics that is polarized between an immoral, unscrupulous right and a spineless, incompetent left than the sad story of Shirley Sherrod, an obscure employee in the U. S. Department of Agriculture who became a household name overnight.

After America’s oldest civil rights organization, the NAACP, attacked the conservative Tea Party movement for white racism within its ranks, rightwing activists decided to strike back by exposing black racism within the Obama administration. Rightwing blogger Andrew Breitbart posted on his website an edited video of Sherrod, who is black, apparently saying in a speech that she denied help to a farmer in distress because he was white.

In fact, the full context of the speech shows quite the opposite. Sherrod refers to a 24-year-old episode when she worked for a nonprofit organization not the government, to make the point that she confronted and overcame her own prejudices to help a white farmer regardless of race. In a part of the video not played by Breitbart, she said, “Working with him made me see that it’s really about those who have versus those who don’t … God helped me see that it’s not just about black people. … I’ve come to realize that we have to work together … we have to overcome the divisions that we have.”

Breitbart’s smear of Sherrod became an international sensation when FOX News repeatedly ran his version of the story without checking with Sherrod or the farmer in question. The farmer, Roger Spooner and his wife Eloise later appeared on CNN and confirmed that they never saw a hint of racism in Sherrod and that indeed she helped save their farm. In Roger Spooner’s words, “Me and the wife, we never, we never, we never saw that [racism] at all. Absolutely. It’s unbelievable. If we had not found her, me and my wife — we went checking here and yonder and everywhere — if it hadn’t been for her, we’d of lost.”

In an appearance with FOX New’s Sean Hannity, Breitbart made it clear that he cared nothing about the truth or about Ms. Sherrod. He said, “I’m invested in getting the NAACP and the Democratic Party and the Congressional Black Caucus to stop constantly calling the Tea Party racist. That’s my job. I could care less about Shirley Sherrod, to be honest with you.”

Instead, of carefully checking the full context of the video and the facts of the story, both the Obama administration and the NAACP blundered into the rightwing mousetrap. The administration fired Sherrod faster than you can say Martin Luther King (it has since offered her a new job).

The NAACP applauded the firing, saying, “We are appalled by her actions, just as we are with abuses of power against farmers of color and female farmers.” Later, when the truth came out, the group’s president Benjamin Todd Jealous said, “we were snookered by Fox News and Tea Party Activist Andrew Breitbart.” No kidding!

The Sherrod story should have been about an unscrupulous rightwing setup of an innocent victim to take revenge on their opponents. Instead, the story came to center on the blunders of the Obama administration and the NAACP.
Like so many liberal groups, the NAACP has fallen on hard times in recent years. Sexually exploitive male leaders ran the organization into the ground in the 1990’s and early twentieth century. It has lost about half its members and has not made an impact on big issues in recent memory. The organization attempted a comeback with its attack on the Tea Party, but instead has just become another example of liberal cowardice and incompetence.

It is hard to believe that the NAACP once successfully challenged much of the American power structure to help bring down the system of Jim Crow in the South. How the mighty have fallen.

How could liberals in the Obama administration and the NAACP have fallen for the trap set by a known rightwing attack dog, who had previously used doctored videos in attacking the leftwing grassroots organization ACORN? How could liberals not have learned by now that the right will butcher the truth to make political points? Weren’t liberals on this planet when conservatives said we must go to war with Iraq to stop Saddam Hussein from hurling a-bombs on our cities? When they charged that the Democrats’ health care bill empowered “death squads” to throw grandma into the gas chamber? When they said that Obama was born anywhere but in the good ole U.S. of A.?

With a right that is wrong and a left that is lame, it is no wonder that Americans are so down on their politics.

ALLAN J. LICHTMAN is Professor of History at American University. His most recent book is, White Protestant Nation.

 

WORDS THAT STICK

?

 

More articles by:

Weekend Edition
March 22, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
The Ghost of Fascism in the Post-Truth Era
Gabriel Rockhill
Spectacular Violence as a Weapon of War Against the Yellow Vests
H. Bruce Franklin
Trump vs. McCain: an American Horror Story
Paul Street
A Pox on the Houses of Trump and McCain, Huxleyan Media, and the Myth of “The Vietnam War”
Andrew Levine
Why Not Impeach?
Bruce E. Levine
Right-Wing Psychiatry, Love-Me Liberals and the Anti-Authoritarian Left
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Darn That (American) Dream
Charles Pierson
Rick Perry, the Saudis and a Dangerous Nuclear Deal
Moshe Adler
American Workers Should Want to Transfer Technology to China
David Rosen
Trafficking or Commercial Sex? What Recent Exposés Reveal
Nick Pemberton
The Real Parallels Between Donald Trump and George Orwell
Binoy Kampmark
Reading Manifestos: Restricting Brenton Tarrant’s The Great Replacement
Brian Cloughley
NATO’s Expensive Anniversaries
Ron Jacobs
Donald Cox: Tale of a Panther
Joseph Grosso
New York’s Hudson Yards: The Revanchist City Lives On
REZA FIYOUZAT
Is It Really So Shocking?
Bob Lord
There’s Plenty of Wealth to Go Around, But It Doesn’t
John W. Whitehead
The Growing Epidemic of Cops Shooting Family Dogs
Jeff Cohen
Let’s Not Restore or Mythologize Obama 
Christy Rodgers
Achieving Escape Velocity
Monika Zgustova
The Masculinity of the Future
Jessicah Pierre
The Real College Admissions Scandal
Peter Mayo
US Higher Education Influence Takes a Different Turn
Martha Rosenberg
New Study Confirms That Eggs are a Stroke in a Shell
Ted Rall
The Greatest Projects I Never Mad
George Wuerthner
Saving the Big Wild: Why Aren’t More Conservationists Supporting NREPA?
Norman Solomon
Reinventing Beto: How a GOP Accessory Became a Top Democratic Contender for President
Ralph Nader
Greedy Boeing’s Avoidable Design and Software Time Bombs
Tracey L. Rogers
White Supremacy is a Global Threat
Nyla Ali Khan
Intersectionalities of Gender and Politics in Indian-Administered Kashmir
Karen J. Greenberg
Citizenship in the Age of Trump: Death by a Thousand Cuts
Jill Richardson
Getting It Right on What Stuff Costs
Matthew Stevenson
Pacific Odyssey: Puddle Jumping in New Britain
Matt Johnson
The Rich Are No Smarter Than You
Julian Vigo
College Scams and the Ills of Capitalist-Driven Education
Brian Wakamo
It’s March Madness, Unionize the NCAA!
Beth Porter
Paper Receipts Could be the Next Plastic Straws
Christopher Brauchli
Eric the Heartbroken
Louis Proyect
Rebuilding a Revolutionary Left in the USA
Sarah Piepenburg
Small Businesses Like Mine Need Paid Family and Medical Leave
Robert Koehler
Putting Our Better Angels to Work
Peter A. Coclanis
The Gray Lady is Increasingly Tone-Deaf
David Yearsley
Bach-A-Doodle-Doo
Elliot Sperber
Aunt Anna’s Antenna
March 21, 2019
Daniel Warner
And Now Algeria
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail