Lanny Davis wants all of us to take a step back before judging Charlie Rangel: Have we learned nothing from the recent rush-to-judgment travesty of Shirley Sherrod? Charles Rangel stands accused by a House ethics subcommittee, composed of both Democratic and GOP House members, of violating House rules — and of course that should be taken far more seriously than the original tape clip that led everyone to jump to a premature conclusion before taking the time to view the entire tape or even to talk to Sherrod. Except the House subcommittee spent 18 months reviewing the evidence before offici
For a few hours last week, Eric Holder could breathe a sigh of relief. Finally, it wasn’t the attorney general but another African American government official whom right-wingers were smearing with allegations of reverse racism. But Andrew Breitbart and other conservative troublemakers’ efforts to turn Shirley Sherrod into Angela Davis proved so ludicrously unfair that they only wound up enhancing Sherrod’s reputation; even long-time conservative commentator Peggy Noonan is now holding up the once-obscure Department of Agriculture official as an icon of racial reconciliation.
Washington—The smearing of Shirley Sherrod ought to be a turning point in American politics.
This week’s Big Story on race reminds me of Married With Children. Really. Not because of the NAACP’s role in the firing of the Agriculture Department’s Shirley Sherrod. Obviously, in the wake of their well-advised and masterfully civil demand that the Tea Partiers disavow racism officially, to them a video of a speech made to their own members by someone appearing to condone reverse racism was poison. Which would have made sense if that’s what the video showed. But it didn’t, especially when viewed in toto (but actually only barely even in the clip).
By now, the story of USDA staffer Shirley Sherrod is familiar. Conservative media magnate Andrew Breitbart obtained a video of her speaking to an NAACP convention. In it she discussed not wanting to help a farmer because he was white. Here was explosive evidence of the reverse racism that Breitbart and some conservatives find so endemic. She was quickly fired. It turned out that Breitbart's story was wildly misleading. Sherrod in fact told a story in which she recounted earlier in her career, while working for a nonprofit, feeling resentment about helping a white farmer.