Out of control: Race-baiting in America

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We now know the “racist” Shirley Sherrod Tapes were taken out of context. But without the Teaching Moment disclaimer, did they make her seem a bigot?

“I was faced with helping a white farmer save his farm. He took a long time talking but he was trying to show me he was superior to me. I know what he was doing. But he had come to me for help. What he didn’t know, while he was taking all that time trying to show me he was superior to me, was I was trying to decide just how much help I was going to give him. I was struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farmland. And here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land, so I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do.”

Possibilities abound. The white farmer could’ve been genuinely condescending. Maybe Sherrod preferred helping blacks because they tend to be poorer. Or, she could’ve been being prejudiced.

But being prejudiced is no capital crime. Otherwise, we’d all be dangling from lampposts. The incident happened 24 years ago. And while a tiger can’t change its stripes, a human being can.

Candid comments like Sherrod’s are far more conducive to racial harmony than PC speech codes. And those Princess-and-the-Pea standards of tolerance haven’t abolished racism. They’ve just driven it underground.

Meanwhile, we’ve become race hysterics in the public square. Andrew Breitbart should be shamed for smearing Sherrod. But the smear would’ve been impossible without the NAACP, White House, and journalists on the left and right uncritically stamping the scarlet letters of R-A-C-I-S-T across the poor woman’s forehead.

Imagine a longer video of Sherrod’s comments wasn’t available, and her white “victim” never reached to report Sherrod saved his farm and acted “like a sister.” Gingrich, O’Reilly and the other bloodhounds of punditry would’ve devoured her. And once they spat Sherrod out, she’d be forever ostracized by polite society.

The denials of a person with an honest track record would’ve meant nothing. When accused of racism, it’s guilty until proven innocent.

Keith Olbermann broadly indicted “the howling fools of the far right, the stand-aside pathetic bureaucrats of the Department of Agriculture, the whole of the cowering media, this network [MSNBC] included,” as well as “the whole of the government” for smearing Sherrod. Olby condemning race-baiting is as credible as Al Capone condemning beer drinking. But he’s right. Heresy hunting is a bipartisan indulgence.

Conservatives cry foul when liberal pundits smear Tea-Partiers as racists. But if a black Obama administration official is the accused, they think: Payback Time! This needs to stop.

The race card roadblocks the path to Post-Racialism, an ideal to which all patriots aspire. It destroys innocent people and gives air to a paranoid tribalism. Let’s use this opportunity to permanently toss it into the discard.

Matt Cockerill is a blogger for The American Conservative and Young Americans for Liberty.