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Saturday, July 31, 2010

Shirley Sherrod

As usual, Newsweek does a great job of addressing the story du jour, about Shirley Sherrod's NAACP speech, selectively edited to sound racist. Here's editor Jon Meacham's summary:

You know the story by now. A conservative Web site posted a misleading excerpt of remarks Sherrod made to a meeting of the Georgia NAACP earlier this year. The video was edited to suggest that Sherrod, who is African-American, had discriminated against a white farmer back in 1986. The moment of purported reverse racism roared around the Internet, onto Fox News, and into the mainstream media.

There was one problem, however: the story was not true. Sherrod had been sharing an account of redemption, telling her audience how she had overcome racism (in 1965 her father was killed by a white man; an all-white grand jury refused to return an indictment). The white family under discussion said Sherrod was instrumental in helping them keep their farm; they were perplexed by allegations that she had been racist.

Then regular columnist Ellis Cose commented on the repercussions, including the role Obama plays in the national conversation about race:

In the long run, I believe Obama’s presidency will have a powerful and positive impact on race relations. The presence of a thoughtful, competent black man at the helm of the world’s most powerful nation cannot help but change attitudes for the better. The irony is that in this area, as in no other, he is barred from using his eloquence. For him to speak honestly, in ways that really could contribute to intergroup understanding, means risking the wrath of the right. Despite his platinum tongue, Obama’s most important contribution to race relations will almost certainly have to be in what he is, not in what he says.

It's so discouraging that so many people believed that she would use her speech to brag about discriminating against a white farmer, and they missed the actual content, which was really inspirational. Larry said she should have kept her mouth shut - he didn't see the blame belonging on the person who misquoted her. Odd that he (Andrew Breitbart) would be considered a credible source, considering his prior actions to discredit by ACORN posing as a pimp. Just a sad incident all around. Everyone but Shirley comes off looking like a fool.

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