“A lie can go around the world while the truth is getting its pants on.” -Edward R. Murrow
This piece is not entirely about Shirley Sherrod; she’s only part of the story; the latest victim of the right wing smear machine. She is not the first. She won’t be the last. Somewhere, I am certain, old Joe McCarthy is smiling. Sixty years ago there was only one McCarthy. Today he is everywhere. He won.
By now you will all have read all about the speech she made recently before a gathering of the NAACP, a small portion of which was seized by a Conservative blogger and quoted light years out of context. The story she told the audience of her personal evolution and her triumph over her own racism was turned on its head in order to make it appear that she is an anti-white bigot. The offender was a blogger named Andrew Breitbart. FOX Noise immediately ran with the story with the self-righteous demand that she resign her position as the USDA’s Director of Rural Affairs for the state of Georgia. Within hours, she was literally forced to the side of the road by the Obama administration and ordered to tender her resignation. The NAACP initially denounced her, later claiming that they had been “snookered”. Egg-covered faces all around.
This past Sunday on CBS’s Face The Nation, Bob Scheifer talked about old and new journalism, proudly identifying himself as an “old journalist”. The difference between now and then, he said, was that in the good old days reporters and commentators went to some length to insure that a story they were putting it out for public consumption was in fact true. There are actually people who are expressing shock at the depths that certain “new journalists” sank in order to soil the reputation of a woman who by all accounts is a decent and conscientious public servant. Anyone who was surprised by this latest turn of events hasn’t been paying attention. While the left has been guilty of this sort of thing in the past, as far as the nutty right wing is concerned the spreading of untruths is now simply a matter of policy. It’s the old Josef Goebbels trick: Keep repeating the lie and eventually an ill-informed, unenlightened public will swallow it whole. Seig heil.
I’m trying to put myself in Shirley Sherrod’s shoes. This is somewhat difficult due to the happy fact that I grew up as an upper middle class white kid in the suburbs north of New York City. When we went on vacation we didn’t go by car – we went in a private plane that was owned by my dad! I am at a loss to explain to you how I became as left-of-center as I am. I’m sure that my youthful obsession with people like John Lennon and Dick Gregory had something to do with it. They were both accused by J.Edgar Hoover of corrupting the impressionable minds of the youth of this grand and glorious land of ours. Blame it on those guys.
I didn’t grow up (as Shirley Sherrod did) as a poor black kid in the Deep South. I wasn’t surrounded on all fronts (as Shirley Sherrod was) by the vile sort of prejudice – hammered into her soul day after day – that she was not worthy to drink out of certain water fountains, or eat in certain restaurants, or use certain rest rooms. When my father died he was at home in a comfortable bed, surrounded by family and friends. Shirley Sherrod’s father was murdered – shot in the back by a Klansman who was never even brought to trial. Had I been raised under the same circumstances as Shirley Sherrod, I would not today be a Progressive – I would be a fucking bomb-throwing revolutionary, are you kidding me? You might, too, would you dare to know yourselves better. The very fact that Shirley Sherrod was able to overcome her own racism is a testament to the woman’s character. Let’s all raise a glass in her honor. Cheers!
This brings me to the subject of the character of the right wing media. FOX Noise picked up this “story” and beat it to death. Apparently not one of the geniuses within that organization had the brains to examine a tape of the speech in its entirety. It didn’t matter at all to these jackasses that the “Shirley as racist” story might be bogus on its face. The fact is, like Peter Pan, they wanted it to be true – they needed it to be true – and so they merely wished it to be so. We’re talkin’ Never Never Land here, folks. You see, they rarely have the truth on their side. All they have for ammunition is the BIG LIE. In this one respect comparing them to the Nazis is not beyond the pale. They are following the Goebbels playbook note by nasty note.
Is it a coincidence that in the weeks leading up to the invasion of Iraq eight-and-a-half years ago, over seventy percent of the people who believed that Saddam Hussein was somehow culpable in the attacks of September 11, 2001 were habitual viewers of FOX Noise? Rupert Murdoch’s organization has but a single purpose: keeping America stupid. Who would have dreamed that he would be this successful? Most Americans are unable to locate the continent of Africa on a map, or name a single Supreme Court Justice. FOX has a hand in this; I just know it!
The fact that so many people are getting their information from an outlet that is nothing more than a propaganda arm of the plutocracy is disturbing enough. What is even more unsettling are the methods they use to instill fear in their clueless viewership. Were you aware that Barack Obama is a radical Socialist who hates white people? The fact that our half-white president is barely a Progressive and that he was raised by his white mother and grandparents is irrelevant: They report. You believe. It’s all so “fair and balanced” that it’s hardly worth arguing about the point.
And so much of their assault on America’s intellect has to do with race, have you ever noticed that? Their latest crusade is against something called the “New Black Panther Party”. This is a “group” that is comprised of two nitwits from Philadelphia who recently made minor news when they stood out in front of a predominantly African American polling place, holding batons and trying to look intimidating. Although no one was actually intimidated from voting, the talking heads at FOX have spent the last week taking the Department of Justice to task for their failure to bring criminal charges against these two – in spite the inconvenient truth that no crime was actually committed. Damn the facts, full speed ahead.
Why do they stoop so low? What the hell is wrong with these people? For many years I have heard horrible, really vicious rumors about the sex life of a certain right wing commentator. I have never printed them on this site because to do so would not only be mean, it would be unconscionable. I have no proof of this person’s sexual transgressions and to make an issue out of unsubstantiated allegations would be the height of irresponsibility. And besides, to do so would only be sinking to the level of the extremists. We don’t need to go there; we have the truth on our side. Take that, Andrew Breitbart!
It don’t mean a thin
If it ain’t got that spin
Do-wop! Do-wop! Do-wop!
This situation is not going to end anytime soon, I’m sorry to tell you. FOX Noise is not going anywhere, and an outright ban on half-witted extremists from the internet would be positively un-American. What to do? Combat – not the physical, bloodletting kind – I refer here to a battle of ideas. The fact that we have the truth on our side means that we are able to fight these knuckleheads with both hands tied behind our backs. In the war of words the truth will ultimately prevail. This has been proven in history more times than can be counted. It may take years – even decades – but the truth always wins in the end. As the old adage says, the truth will set you free. Think about it.
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