If Andrew Breitbart is remembered for anything, it will be the Shirley Sherrod incident. In brief, he posted a video segment of a speech she gave where she said she gave minimal help to a white farmer in her job as a USDA bureaucrat. She was quickly fired by the Obama administration, then more video was posted showing where later in the speech she changed her mind and helped him. Breitbart said the video still showed the NAACP attendees cheering her decision not to help the farmer, but this was dismissed and Sherrod is now officially a martyr. She has never been rehired, though, and considering we have a black power executive that says something. Her original remarks must still be considered pretty hot. Chris Matthews, a strong partisan but with some sense of fairness, said the video wasn’t deceptively edited.
Howard dropout Ta-Nehisi Coates of course had to chime in. (I’m going to call him things other than “gutless punk”, next up are “comic book nerd” and “fat pseudo-hipster.”) Chuck Rudd recently commented he was a bad writer. I don’t think he’s too bad- he’s certainly mediocre, but then being house negro at the Atlantic doesn’t require much. He interjects popular culture musings to make things more interesting than the typical race-hustling- white liberals find that stuff just as boring as we do. In this case he works the more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger angle, portraying Sherrod as someone who passed up racial hatred for reconciliation, only to be brutally knee-capped by a white-hooded white male.
The whole video is available on Breitbart’s site. I watched the whole thing. I’m not an intellectual of the formal sort, but I think that a form of intellectual analysis should scale- things should be comprehensible in the same way viewed close up, or farther away.
From this rule, both the black nationalist manque Coates and angry but still mainstream conservative Breitbart both fail. In Coates’ view, the thing changes dramatically from limited view to larger view- Sherrod as justifiably angry black person to Sherrod as racial reconciliator. In Breitbart’s view, it changes less dramatically- from Sherrod as angry black woman to the NAACP as angry black organization.
But Sherrod’s speech is not a matter of one perspective or another. It’s the whole story of black power, whether you consider Sherrod as an angry young woman, Sherrod as a veteran bureaucrat, the NAACP, or the US government. It embraces all these things and properly understood, tells the entire story of black power in America.
That’s a lot to get out of a banquet speech, but it’s all there. First Sherrod reminds the audience that there are many excellent, high-paying government jobs at the USDA- negroes need not fear heat and sweat when they hear the word “agriculture” but can actually think of easy jobs in soft chairs in an air-conditioned office. She complains about the failure of the justice system, mentions her half-hearted help of the white farmer- which is approved by the audience.
She then takes an aside that may be mistaken for sympathy for whites, but is a standard leftist move. Not all whites are privileged, and racism is an artificial creation. She then attributes opposition to Obamacare to racism- which is of course no different than a white liberal. As long as whites see themselves as needing to be allied with blacks, and accepting black leadership and black privilege, they are OK.
Sherrod’s speech, whether you listen to a minute or an hour, has one consistent theme- black power and privilege through the authority of the government purse. The institution she represents- the US Department of Agriculture- predates black power by many years. It’s formally and specifically an institution of white socialism. The idea that farmers, people who are private businessmen with substantial assets, should get government money is taken as a given. Sherrod’s only point is that blacks can benefit from this system from jobs- opened up to blacks in the 60’s, and thus not employing the whites who would have otherwise been there- Democratic Party, New Deal voting whites, in Georgia liberals in all things but race- and from having the power to disburse or not disburse the funds of the agency to farmers, some black but mostly white. Sherrod graciously helps the white farmer in the story- he is even on YouTube attesting to this. She can graciously do it because she is the one in the position of power, to help or not help, disburse or not disburse.
And what a power this is! Take West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, long-serving Democratic politician and Klan leader. The temptation for a black radical to shoot him must have been powerful. But by the time the Black Panther Party came around, Byrd was already a tamed and neutered man. As powerful as he seemed to be, in the end he was a man asking for money, and that is a pathetic and helpless man indeed. He ruled the Senate like a Mafia boss, but he could only do that with the assent of the many other Democratic Senators, all beholden to the black vote. In the end, the Kleagle and Exalted Cyclops had a 100% rating from the NAACP.
Money makes the world go around. If you don’t have it, you want it. If you want it from the federal government- or most state, county, or city governments- a nice black lady with conked hair like Shirley Sherrod probably has the checkbook. You’ll be plenty nice to her, and she’ll also be plenty nice to you, but behind the smile is the conqueror’s sneer of Ozymandias.