Let’s write a script for a Lifetime movie. Set it in the 80s. The main character is older. He’s white. Heavy-set, glasses.. balding. Sweaty. You know the sort. What Winston Churchill would look like if he were raised in a shack on a farm out west during the Dust Bowl era. You know .. a redneck. Lets call him Bob.
Bob works for an insurance company. It’s his job to process claims. By his word, people receive care, or do not. Bob is efficient. He’s skeptical. Oh, and he’s a racist. Bob comes up against a claim from a poor black family in, oh I don’t know, let’s say Georgia. He drags his feet. He does the least he can do. He tries to pawn the family off on a black co-worker. But over the course of the film, he gets to know them. He starts fighting for them. In the climax, he throws a tantrum and makes a huge speech about how he was wrong, and this family is worth fighting for. Everybody cries. Eventually he’s playing baseball with the formerly death-bed-ridden now healthy again thanks to Bob 12 year old kid at the family’s Fourth of July picnic. Uplifting, right? Touching even. Good old Bob.
Now imagine the only part of Bob’s story that Lifetime airs is up to where he tries to pawn the family off on a black coworker. That’s it. End of movie. Well no more good old Bob eh? He’d be bad Bob. Bob the racist.
Race is a touchy subject, even in President Obama’s post-racial workers paradise. Today, the Daily Caller posted email from the infamous Journolist, in which the idea of randomly accusing conservative figures of being racists was floated as a reasonable way to shift the focus from Reverend Wright story, so as not to damage then-candidate Obama. To those of us on the right, that was one of those “well … duh” moments. We know the left does it. They obviously do it with malice and forethought. The racist smear is both the most common and the most potent rapid fire tool in the liberal democrat toolbox. Slap the label on someone and then they don’t matter anymore. They are marginalized. Perhaps they lose their credibility or even their job. But no matter. A political advantage was won.
Shirley Sherrod, as you certainly already realize, is the inspiration for Bob the racist. A video of Sherrod, first posted at Big Government, shows her at an NAACP meeting in March discussing something that happened in the 80s. She is telling the tale of a white farmer she was unenthusiastic about helping. She wanted to pawn him off on “his own kind.” Just before the YouTube video cuts off, you get the preview of where her story is headed. She’s about to tell the receptive audience that sometimes it’s not about race, it’s about how white people hate poor people, even when those poor people are white. Right?
Only there is much more to it than that. As subsequent reporting has revealed, Sherrod ended up working tirelessly for that white family. They became “friends for life” according to the family. The point of Sherrod’s story was that you have to move beyond race. That was her point.
Now, let us be clear, class warfare is also an ugly thing. But Sherrod wasn’t forced to step down from her position at the USDA because she spoke on helping poor people regardless of race. No, she was forced out because it was perceived that she was racist. Because she was being spun as being a racist.
When charges of racism are so casually set upon the world so routinely, this is what happens. Sherrod was arguably speaking out against racism, and yet was forced out of her job overnight by an administration with no moral courage, and was condemned by the NAACP, apparently absent even the barest investigation of the facts on their part. The same NAACP that casually slandered the entire Tea Party movement as racist.
Racism and race in general are big topics these last few weeks. The New Black Panther party wants to kill white babies, but you know, only in the right context. The reporting on that story has been abysmal. In fact, for the left the story isn’t voter intimidation, or DOJ corruption, or even, you know, baby murder. No, for them the story is that Fox News reported on the story, and must therefore be trying to exploit racial antagonism to hurt President Obama or something. Whatever. Glenn Beck!!
And then there was the NAACP resolution accusing white people who protest government spending of basically being giant lynch mobs. When that didn’t sell they morphed into a “call” for the “tea party” to condemn its “racist” elements. This charge was “brilliantly” answered by Mark Williams of the Tea Party Express, who posted a “satirical” letter to Lincoln from the NAACP. I’ve run out of scare quotes, but suffice it to say the letter went from satire to blatantly racist in about 20 seconds flat. He was roundly, and rightly, thereafter condemned.
Williams was kicked out of the Tea Party Federation. Today the Tea Party Express PAC is disavowing him. Despite that, rest assured his idiocy will be used by the left as definitive proof that the tea parties are full of racists. As we saw on Glenn Beck last night, those who would use race as a political weapon don’t require that their accusations contain truth. Political advantage is the game. Regardless of casualties.
There is no race war in this country, but the racism war rages apace. There are deserving casualties like Williams, and undeserving like Shirley Sherrod. And in both cases, the reactionary race-baiting of the NAACP were integral.
America used to dream of a day when people would be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin. Today, instead, we judge them by the content of their sound bytes, YouTube clips, and social media footprint. We have a political atmosphere where even those who accuse people of racism don’t do it because they care about racism, but merely because it gives a temporary political advantage, or conveniently changes the subject. It is a charge used to take out political opponents, not to single out or object to evil.
As a society we are surely drifting morally. Slouching toward Gomorrah, as they say. And amid our moral ambiguity, we have lost fundamental outrage at actual racism, as well as the discernment to detect frivolous or baseless charges against the innocent. Racism ambiguity, in other words.
In America, politics often becomes a race to the bottom. The racism race is a perfect example. If there is a cure for this, I don’t know it. What can any of us do but object? And so that’s what I’m doing. I object.