a few quick thoughts on Sherrod, Breitbart, Ackerman, and race (which, sadly, means that we have to stop thinking about critiques on government spending forever! Or at least, for the few minutes it takes to read this post)
If she was taken out of context, then Breitbart is no better than, say, those who took Limbaugh, Bennett, et al., out of context to advance their own aims. Unless, of course, that is Breitbart’s (ironic) point, in which case, well, you be the judge.
If it’s the latter, this kind of tactic is dicey: if it teaches the left that the right is willing to play the game too, with the result being a kind of mutually assured destruction, we wind up with a form of stalemate, where everyone agrees to hold fire.
If on the other hand it simply means everyone is going to continue play this game (and let the chips fall where they may) it further destroys language — and plays right into the hands of the left, who promote the view of language that legitimizes such tactics to begin with.
That’s just in case people mistake where I stand.
— Not that most people care where I stand these days. But, you know, for the record.
I’ll add now that if Breitbart’s point was, as some have since argued (including I believe Andrew himself), to highlight the NAACP audience reaction at the outset of Ms Sherrod’s story (the pre- “redemption” set-up, as it were), the text accompanying the video needed to specify that rather than intimate that what we were about to watch, in its edited form, was a federal official admitting to racial bias as a function of her (then) current job. [update: Sherrod does, however, show partisan political bias, which is equally problematic coming from someone in her position.]
I agree in part with McGruder’s comment in an earlier thread: Breitbart oversold, and if not Breitbart specifically, whomever he hired to write his text.
Of course, what needs to be pointed out here is that both the White House and the NAACP are so aware of the power of the race-bait game they themselves marshal so effectively that they panicked and tried to get out in front of the charges with faux righteous indignation. They got burned because of it — and once again, their willingness to bury individuals for the “greater good” of the ideology was exposed. Too, Sherrod seems to be using up her public sympathy — and showing that her story of ideological redemption was all bunk — by accusing anyone and everyone who doesn’t agree with her of “racism,” a stance that, for me at least, exposes her as an unrepentant racist herself, the very kind who will call black conservatives Uncle Toms, etc., and who will happily work with whites provided they act contrite about being born racists as a condition of their color.
So I don’t think this story is going to hurt the “right” or the “Tea Party Movement” as much as some commentators here worry it will — though I don’t think as a strategy counting on the mind-boggling stupidity of your opponents at every turn is a good bet long term.
Beyond that, I don’t much understand the argument I keep seeing here that by discussing racial issues the right is “losing its focus.” I mean, it’s possible to talk about several things at once, is it not? — and the use of racial demagoguery as a weapon by the left has been a problem for the right for quite some time now. If the right can work to undermine that form of invidious and cynical (see Ackerman, et al) ad hominem attack, it should: and I’ve been an advocate of making race a big part of the discussion going forward for years now, precisely because I believe most Americans side with conservatives and classical liberals on racial issues, and are far more desirous of a color blind society than are those on the left, who, in the academic world, eg., openly dismiss the idea of color-blindness as a kind of racism itself, an argument I believe simply won’t resonate with an electoral majority once illuminated as such.
And exposing such thinking provides some context for many of the identity group policies and set-asides we see making their way into legislation: what is being pawned off on the voting public as a function of PC “fairness” can then be correctly matched with the ideological assumptions — specifically, that the idea of a color-blind nation is itself a racist notion, and that the only way to truly fight racism is by engaging in racial favoritism — that promote such legislation.
What was once a melting pot has been replaced with a putrid stew of conflicted racial sensibilities. While the majority of Americans wish to see “race” disappear as a factor in hiring, etc., they have been so infused with PC claptrap and historical guilt that they are, above all else, afraid to be seen as racist — a situation that, having been carefully conceived and nurtured by the left, is now routinely exploited as an easy way to silence critics by raising faux indignation at any thought, expressed or “coded,” that can even remotely be tethered to race. See, again, eg., Mr Ackerman — whose “hardcore punk” and comic book sensibilities have evidently taught him that all is fair in politics, that might makes right, and that being on the “good” side allows one to use tactics that would, in the hands of those less good than he and his private listserv coterie, be viewed as despicable and unseemly.
Because he’s a giant douche.
There are many more like him, too. And it does classical liberalism / conservatism no good to ignore a strategy that has kept those of us who advocate for equality of opportunity and individualism branded “racists” and marginalized from public discussion as fringe figures and pariahs.
There’s plenty of room for people like Ryan to speak to the American people about spending, and people like Breitbart to respond to issues of racial demagoguing like that trotted out by the NAACP.
We can take issue with his particular line of attack — as my earlier response suggests, I think such a tack plays in to the institutional “truths” about language the left would like us to accept, and so is a dangerous and counterproductive maneuver, if intentional (in the sense that Breitbart was trying to mislead about Sherrod, rather than simply mistaken) — but a misstep in addressing racial demagoguery is not a refutation of addressing racial demagoguery per se as a legitimate (and in my estimation necessary) line of ideological attack against a cynical, race-baiting left.
So long as we fear addressing issues our opponents “own”, we are sure to weaken ourselves, both ideologically AND politically. And while some argue that we can regain power by carefully side-stepping hot button issues, my contention is that such power regained is not truly power, because it relies on a willingness to play by the rules of those who have learned effectively to control us.