Thursday, July 22, 2010

Newsflash: We don't have a Black President, and jibes about the Sherrod debacle at the USDA.


WWW--Could the Obama administration have handled the whole affair worse by immediately capitulating to the GOP once again? Give them time, they'll find a way. It's obvious that the White House did call the Secretary of Agriculture (the decidedly Caucasian Tom Vilsack, since that's who gets hired at the USDA and stays on...) telling him to fire Shirley Sherrod from her USDA post over very carefully edited comments she made at an NAACP event that were posted on a conservative blog.

The whole media event is political theater predicated on misinforming the public and pushing a racist and classist agenda: the GOP gets to show that President Obama and his advisers will give into just about any of their demands, curious behavior for a president whose party currently holds a firm majority in both houses of Congress (for now), as well as making the first Black President look weak. He's doing a great job on his own, granted, but their agenda is a primarily racist one.

One of the worst things about all of this is that conservative propagandist Breitbart wasn't the first to discriminate against Sherrod, it was the USDA in 1985 when they refused to grant her and her husband a routine loan that white farmers almost always receive, possibly because they were Black farmers. Like many at the time, they lost their farm, but presumably not for the same reasons as white farmers. Discrimination at the USDA is well known. It wouldn't have been the first time racism hurt a Black American farmer at the USDA. The Department of Agriculture has engaged in institutionalized racism all the way back to its inception, but this mandate came from Congress, from the executive branch. I believe her story as a Black farmer is true. So, this isn't the first time that the USDA has failed Mrs. Sherrod and Black Americans, not by a long-shot.

A prediction: If the Obama administration continues down the same road, they can expect two years of a lame-duck presidency or collapse and a subsequent resignation. They will have earned it.

Will the GOP benefit from this? It doesn't appear so, but you never know, even with the phony "apologies." They could very well inch their numbers higher in Congress again. But be careful what you wish for, GOP: your last unfortunate president (George W. Bush for those with no memory), the man (with help from a GOP dominated Congress) who left us with a $10+ trillion national debt was still in office when the shit began hit with the economy and he went begging to Congress and even the president-elect for help. The first Wall Street bailout came under his last days of unprecedented Republican misrule, a well known fact. The Democrats generally let him do all of this and were his shadow enablers. Bush II left us with a wrecked economy, but without the assistance of the entire congressional GOP and many Democratic incumbents it wouldn't have been possible. Again: they let him do it. In sum, both major national parties own the current economic crisis and certainly aren't ever going to be a solution to it.

Like the manufactured ACORN scandal, conservative blogging played a major hand in all of this, and it was done with heavily and selectively edited video. Yet, there has been no accountability for any of these activities by right-wing operatives. It helps to have activist conservative judges on your side, already paid for. The corporate mainstream media has been extremely complicit in the dissemination of these memes and stories to the point that it cannot be a coincidence. Congress and the Obama administration not only "played" into their hands, they were complicit in the dismantling of a grass roots organization that registers Black and poor Americans (many of who are women and veterans, no less), people who don't tend to vote Republican. A Black President signed a bill that defunded them. This is really a story of the damage that GOP operatives are doing to our democracy and the right to vote, a desire to roll things back for Black Americans to a pre-1964 state, when a white supremacist culture could still prevent them from voting. It's also about a Democratic Party that doesn't care if they do. We seem to be going backwards in time as a nation and a culture. Not so long ago, it was a frightening proposition for Black Americans to vote, and in many parts of the continental United States, not just the South.

This began to change with the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (which the late Sen. Robert Byrd filibustered for 14 hours, losing) and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, two laws that have being routinely violated in several national elections, and without any real official reaction, never mind enforcement. Under the GOP, that's predictable, but the Democrats haven't shown any substantial enthusiasm to curb it. These pre-1964 practices have returned and the need for a new Civil Rights movement is clear, besides the need for serious investigations into actions committed by various GOP operatives to disenfranchise American citizens.

But the DNC doesn't appear too concerned about poor Blacks having the right to vote any more than the franchise for poor whites and prison inmates. We might ask them why some time. The events at the USDA just underscores that institutional racism is alive-and-well in our era, even being implemented by Black Americans who have benefited from the aforementioned legislation and the sacrifices of the Civil Rights movement of the 1950s-70s. It's not just the GOP that wants to roll back the clock on civil rights. Both parties are taking orders from the same super rich interests that dominate this nation through the power of money, influence, and yes, criminal activity. Meanwhile, the political class looks the other way...unless the public won't have it anymore. Why do you keep having it? Really?

Personally, were I Mrs. Sherrod, I'd mount multi-million dollar civil suits against not only Andrew Breitbart and his site and organization, I'd sue him personally and much of the mainstream media, as well as USDA chief Tom Vilsack and even Rahm Emanuel and the standing president. That would be just the beginning. It should be noted here that Mrs. Sherrod was an activist for SNCC during the Civil Rights era, meaning it's very likely that at one time she helped register frightened, poor Blacks in the South to vote. This is all about white hate and institutionalized racism, make no mistake about it. She was targeted. CNN's Wolf Blitzer--after profuse "apologies"--just referred to the Sherrod story (Breitbart's take) as "too good to be true." He should be on the list of defendants too.

Shirley Sherrod, community activist and ally of small farmers, including white ones: http://www.cltnetwork.org/index.php?fuseaction=Blog.dspBlogPost&postID=1389