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Let's review this racism firing

Our Readers Who Comment are having a vigorous name-calling left-right discussion about race in politics after the firing of an Agriculture Department official -- a firing now under reconsideration -- for a videotaped speech she made that mentioned an experience that showed the role race could play in a decision-making process.

The article about U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack firing Shirley Sherrod had 365 comments before Vilsack said early this morning that he was reviewing his decision in light of the knowledge that the video segment posted Monday on the Web site of conservative activist Andrew Breitbart told only part of the story. The full video has been released by the NAACP. More than 300 comments have come in since then.

Reader comments both before and after Vilsack's decision to review show significant tensions along the left-right divide around questions of race. It is far too simplistic to call this a bout between Tea Party activists and the NAACP or the debate about whether all media except Fox News lean left.

As Karen Tumulty and Krissah Thompson write, "Suspicions on the right that [President] Obama has a hidden agenda -- theories stoked in part by conservative media and sometimes involving race -- have been a subplot of his rise, beginning almost as soon as he announced his campaign. They lie beneath many of the questions that conservatives on the political fringes have raised about his motives, his legitimacy and even his citizenship."

All of the comments chosen were filed after Vilsack announced he would review the firing.

We'll start with SierraJeff, who asked, "When is the "mainstream media" going to stop letting itself be duped by that right-wing nuts? What ever happened to objectivity, to investigating and reporting news - instead of reacting to what someone else says is news?"

FredinVicksburg noted that "President Obama, himself, has been a victim of right-wingers quoting out of context. The Administration needs a little more informed decision making, and a little less knee jerk reaction."

veloboldie wrote, "NAACP is circling the wagons and shooting their own because of the crackpot tea baggers. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is rolling in his grave."

thebump said, "With our supposedly watchdog media shamefully turned into a lapdog, who but Mr. Breitbart will dare speak truth to power? Thank God for his courageous service!..."

JUNGLEJIM123 wrote, "This Administration and the NAACP are the racists and ole Shirley is just another example of racism gone wild during Obamas reign. You can always count on Obama drama !!!!!!"

ecassel1 said, "What's an outrage is how quick Vilsack was to fire her before knowing the facts. Knee-jerk reactions to pressure from Fox of all places should not be governing policy. Yet, sadly, it is. Fox rules."

stevensp1 added, "Vilsack shot from the hip when he fired this fine public servant. That is embarrassing, but should be reversed. The speech was a fine statement about racial tolerance. The people who clipped and edited and posted it are the evil doers and liars in this matter. We all know it!"

Realist201 wrote, "Here we go again - if this woman were white, they would still be crucifying her, but since she is black, her racism is ignored and she will probably get a promotion.....this is what liberal America brought to America, hatred for anything corporate white, or with money....just like Hugo Chavez."

DCguyme1 suggested that "Shirley should sue FOX for so much money that she put them out of business. She would do a great service to our country. I'll contribute to her legal fund."

To which ahashburn replied, "Why? Because she admitted on tape that she didn't help a farmer as much as she could because he was white? Also, don't you mean that she should sue so that she never ever has to work again?"

ponderer wrote, "Democrats are reflexive cowards. Say "boo" and they jump . . . or retract whatever they've said or waffle on what they believe. Grow a spine!"

luzazul said, "SHAME ON YOU LIBERALS~ I hope this serves as a lesson to all of you that race baiting is wrong. You, the NAACP and the WhiteHouse were caught with your pants down. You have been doing the EXACT same thing to the Tea Party Movement and now you are tasting your own medicine. It is time for all Conservatives and Liberals to stop the race charges against one another. The Tea Party is no more of a racist organization than the NAACP. Are there elements that go to the extreme? YES, but that goes for everyone..."

demtse wrote, "This story is an aberration, than the accepted rule, where white farmers are concerned. The USDA has been considered one of the most racist federal agencies in the US government. It had a long and storied history of denying access to black farmers. As recently as last year, the government settled a long pending suit with black farmers who were systematically denied access to agency assistance. Now if the Teabaggers want to cherry-pick this as an instance of "reverse racism", they must not be disingenuous that institutional racism against black farmers, was routine with USDA.

drjcarlucci said, "For the first post-racial president, all he and his supporters do is talk about race. They can't talk about how great 16% unemployment is, obviously. So use distraction and personal attacks instead."

kstack wrote, "This should be the end of any media credibility whatsoever for Andrew Breitbart and his cooked videos. (See ACORN)But it probably won't be, because much of the media is lazy, sensationalist, shallow and, yes, scared to death of Republicans. That includes you, Washington Post, despite the occasional fine work by some of your reporters."

And robin5956 said, "I think the Post is missing the point entirely. Someone purposely smeared this woman. Someone is going through all the videos they can find of NAACP meetings and speeches to find ways to make the organization look bad. Can we not discuss the smear merchants here? The spineless and pathetic response by the White House and its administration is disgraceful. But these smear merchants are the story. They destroyed ACORN with lies and heavily and purposely edited video. Clearly they are trying to do the same with the NAACP."

All comments on this article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  July 21, 2010; 9:38 AM ET
Categories:  Racism  | Tags: Breitbart, Obama, Race, USDA, Vilsack  
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Next: Tea Party Caucus time


why isn't Andrew Breitbart in jail. Isn't editing and faking videos to put on the internet to fraud?

Posted by: sux123 | July 21, 2010 4:37 PM | Report abuse

There's lots of room for fault (but none with Sherrod). However, the candidate deserving burning at the stake is Andrew Breitbart.

I don't know whether its feasible, but extracting video, text or audio deliberately and selectively to as to misrepresent the meaning and intent of the original material should be legally considered libel.

That said, Vilsack should resign. He has demonstrated the ultimate managerial incompetence.

Posted by: billsecure | July 21, 2010 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I'm going to say again what I said in response to this article:
Judy-in-TX wrote:
This was simply a flagrant miscarriage of justice on the part of the NAACP and the USDA.
They jumped the gun without fully checking the facts.
Had Ms. Sherrod been notified of suspension pending investigation, that would be one thing.
But to take the action of terminating her employment without giving her a chance to respond to the report is simply unjust.
I don't blame her for stepping back and feeling uncomfortable with resuming her job, even if the agency acknowledges their action was a mistake.
Breitbart's excuse for airing the edited video (trying to have plausible deniability) is completely disingenuous and without merit.
This exposes the ultra-sensitivity of some on the left and it is a perfect example of the habitual character assassination practiced by the ultra-right.
Vince Foster, before his death, nailed the motivation of the inside-the-Beltway mentality perfectly.
I hope all learn a hard lesson from this experience.
7/21/2010 11:36:38 AM
Recommend (1)

Posted by: Judy-in-TX | July 21, 2010 12:54 PM | Report abuse

How dare we condemn a black racist!
Blacks can't be racists, only crackers can!

Only smelly white trash honkey crackers are able to be racist, we all know that!

And the thing about the new black panther party king calling for the killing of all crackers and their cracker babies?

That was smelly white crackers with shoe polish on their faces just trying to be black! White cracker racists!

Posted by: Thozmaniac | July 21, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

Rush Limbaugh and his "Lemmings" and Right Wing Media and other multi-millionaire anti-Obama jocks are pushing USA toward Racial Conflagration. We will end up like Northern Ireland type environment if we are lucky. The national media is intimidated by right wing or looking for a potential job with FOX, either way they are looking the other way at this gathering storm. They must think they will be insulated from the coming onslaught and will just call 911, I don't think so...those phones will just keep ringing. This ULTIMATE result will affect all of us and this country with all its guns and armaments will never be the same again. There are too many people in this country who are potential candidates for al Qaeda recruitment because they do not have "skin in the game" and these right-wingers want to push them further on the fringes. The attitudes and actions by many of these right wingers are just self destructive. What in the hell do they think this black president can do to them that President Bush has not already? That was when all the money was spent. If they want to save money from this so called "Socialist" give back their medicare and social security, VA benefits and home mortgage deductions.. and than be free of socialistic tendencies.

Posted by: october30 | July 21, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

Nothing has changed. It calls into question the job she's done and whether she can still do it. If she had told this story to an interviewer for a job, that interviewer would have been left wondering if she could do her job. It would have raised flags and left considerable doubt. She failed to do her job the minute she brought race into the equation of her thought. What did that have to do with helping people? It showed she wasn't able to do her job. Doesn't matter if she's reformed or her opinions changed. She wasn't able to do her job the way she was told from day one.

Posted by: motownlivs | July 21, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

For the White House to react the way they did, without making a full investigation first, including viewing the full clip, and interviewing Sherrod and others, in very, very troubling!
This shows the Unprofessionalism and Lack of Experience at the White House.
This White House lost their integrity with the Gates/police issue; for the president to declare on national TV that "the police acted stupidly" was a huge mistake.
But ObamaCare, ramming a bill down our throat that didn't address the costs, not listening to Americans, was the nail in the coffin.
This White House was more concerned about how they looked, more than anything else.
This 'cover-up' attempt by the White House proves they KNOW there's rampant racism on the part of NAACP, and maybe even the White House. I think the White House needs to be investigated.

Posted by: ohioan | July 21, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

The problem is the myopia on both sides is polarizing everyone. Varunreg's alleged "reality" is NOT reality for me, and what frustrates me is how one-sided the leftist media is and how blind those who swallow the propaganda seem to be.

True, the video was selectively edited. But the fact remains that the woman IS RACIST. And she clearly ADMITS it. Maybe she no longer harbors those feelings, but she clearly was not qualified for the job she held AT THAT TIME. I wouldn't want to be a white farmer seeking help from her.

The key question is, how does that affect her job NOW.

But, that's not something the left or the media seems to care about when it comes to the right. Trent Lott comes to mind, for example. His compliment of an aging friend who served for years in the Congress got him vilified by the left and drummed out of the Congress by the left and the media. He was called racist for complimenting a friend.

Yet the left is defending a woman who admits on tape that she wouldn't help a white farmer because of his race. She ADMITS it.

Can the left and the media not see the double standard?

That's the problem that I have here.

Posted by: GoofyPlatypus | July 21, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Fake, edited video concerning ACORN gets them defunded. Fake Photo-shop of BPs monitoring station shows what they think of Americans. Edited video of Ms. Shirley Sherrod shows the opposite of what she was talking about. When is the population of America going to wise up.

As I stated before, there are too many stupid people in this country, lets remove the warning labels off of everything, and let the problem solve itself!

Posted by: Taylorsucram | July 21, 2010 10:11 AM | Report abuse

This article, once again, shows how the media has let down the people over the last few years.

Reality: Breitbart releases a selectively edited video that appears to show a woman being racist, although, without the selective editing, its clear that she is talking about the exact opposite.

The "left": Breitbart releases a selectively edited video that appears to show a woman being racist, although, without the selective editing, its clear that she is talking about the exact opposite.

The "right": She is racist! The selectively edited video proves it. No matter what reality is!

And our fantastic media gives both sides equal billing, in order to be "fair and balanced". Reality is completely irrelevant to the news media today. The only reality for them is what the opinions about reality are.

Posted by: varunreg | July 21, 2010 9:52 AM | Report abuse

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