The Racism Monster

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Once upon a time, in a place nearby, there were two monsters. One was the monster of racism. He was the metaphor of the evils of racism. Like Frankenstein’s creation, he was stitched together of various parts. These parts included specific things such as antisemitism and general things like bigotry. While this beast was sometimes well loved by certain people, it is now regarded widely as a monster.

The brother of this monster is the racism monster. Ironically, those who fought against the monster of racism helped spawn this metaphorical menace. In their attempt to defeat the monster of racism, they helped create a metaphorical killing machine that swiftly and mercilessly attacks almost anyone who attracts its attention.

The most recent victim of the racism monster is Shirley Sherrod.  An incomplete video of her was posted on YouTube which seemed to provide evidence that she was racist. In response to the video, she was pressured into resigning and the NAACP issued  a statement condemning her. Naturally, certain conservative pundits were having a field day.

All this was done, it must be said, without anyone actually reviewing the entire video or considering the full facts of the situation. The racism monster, it could be argued,  struck swiftly, savagely and mindlessly.

If it had turned out that the monster had actually struck down a racist, then perhaps it could have been forgiven for its zeal.  However, the full video seems to make it clear that the allegedly racist incident was actually an experience that changed her views. The evidence also shows that she helped the farmer in question and the fact that the farmer’s wife is defending her lends credence to these claims.  Other important details include the fact that the incident she mentioned  took place long before she worked for the USDA and that her record shows no signs of racism. These facts were, obviously enough, not considered by the Obama administration nor by the NAACP.

I suspect that one reason the NAACP rushed to judgment is because of their recent condemnation of the Tea Party for racism. When they heard a black woman saying what appeared to be racist things, they probably worried that if they waited, they would be accused of following a double standard-condemning white racism while condoning black racism. While this is understandable, such a condemnation should be based on facts and it is reasonable to expect at least a minimal investigation (such as viewing the entire video). Such a leap to judgment and condemnation is, to say the least, unjust. Even if she were, in fact, a racist, the NAACP had a moral obligation to properly confirm this.

Interestingly, Roland Martin appeared on CNN to defend the NAACP’s condemnation. While he admitted that the NAACP had not seen the whole video, he argued that people in government should censor themselves and not say anything that could taken as racism. He did note that this was a matter of political reality rather than a desirable situation.

While I do agree that it is wise to watch what one says, my real concern is with the existence of the political reality in question. If people need to be worried that even a story about how they overcame their past biases can be taken as proof of racism, then there is something seriously wrong with the political reality.

In the case of the administration, they also worry a great deal about race matters. While it is morally correct to remove known racists from such positions, there is also a moral obligation to investigate such allegations thoroughly. If Sherrod had been charged with committing a criminal offense, presumably her guilt or innocence would need to be established before she could be fired. However, in the case of a charge of racism the assumption is clearly that a person is guilty until she can prove otherwise.

While the monster of racism is a fearsome beast, letting the racism monster run free is not a solution. While we should condemn racism, we have a moral obligation to confirm before condemning.

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  1. In these and all related matters I support the Prudential Werewolf.

  2. They have a werewolf? I suppose that tops MetLife’s use of Snoopy.

  3. the Prudential Werewolf. ???
    I have worked for that Company and know the organisation quite well. I never came across any Werewolves In Chief Office, or the field staff.

  4. Well it is a only-on-a-full-moon kind of event. You might’ve missed them.

    Seriously though, the situation in this post is quite bizarre. The appeasement stance that Obama has taken towards the radical right seems strange, even if you can understand the strategic logic that is supposed to be behind it.

  5. Someone falsely accused of currently being a racist based on having what they said or did decades ago taken out of context? Well, apparently that’s a first.

  6. I pretty much agree with what Mike says about this unfortunate incident. I myself have had attitude changing experiences about race over the years, thank God.

    From what Mrs. Sherrod said though I gathered that the Obama Administration was concerned that Glenn Beck would take her words and run with it. What struck me as funny was that, after the unfortunate and unfair firing of Mrs. Sherrod, Glenn Beck didn’t even mention the incident that evening. He said on Tuesday that he didn’t because he needed to verify that her words weren’t take out of context first and he was absolutely right. Good for him and shame on every one else involved from Obama to Tom Vilsack to all of the News shows, not just Fox News, that jumped on it Monday night.

  7. Miriam-Webster Defines Race As RACE : a category of humankind that shares certain distinctive physical traits. I think that anatomically were are all the same, and that shapes my definition of RACE. Within my reality “RACE” in the above context cannot exist. We are all “humans beings”, formed from the same materials, we have the same vulnerabilities and strengths. Maybe the biological differences can be attributed to human adaptation over thousands of years….MAYBE? Human beings will always find a way to exclude themselves from one another. The human capacity to hate is the majority of what we normally see when we see “ism’s”. Ignorance leaves a void in a person, and (time compounded with little to no positive experiences) can cause that void to fill with the worst of all human emotions. “FEAR” In the U.S. FEAR has been taken to a whole new level. It is what our society was born of, we foster it. Historically it’s been in our school systems, in our government….it is our culture. As long as terms like “RACE” and “COLOR” are used to label, categorize, and separate there will always be a status quo based on THOSE “characterist ics”. Logically if the controlling body sets the “Status quo” to “RACE”, and then asks people to define themselves with predefined terms suchas “COLOR”. …..”What they are really asking is which non-white are you.” The institutions of “WHITE” and “BLACK” are the cornerstones of the success of “racism” within U.S. culture. If we all realized that we are all the same species and that no person can define any valuable information about themselves through the use of words that have been predefined as colors, the whole racial theory and establishment would lose all of it’s power. RACIAL THEORY and ESTABLISHMENT: Is the institution within our society that controls the media…the public schools, the prisons, the history books in our public schools, legislative system, judicial system, our language and much more. Doing so in a manner which perpetuates discontent amongst citizens, by hiding the truth and promoting self-hate. Not of hateful intentions, but for the purpose of controlling the masses. -Eugene O. Smith Sunday February 4th 2007

  8. The Political Vacuum « - pingback on August 24, 2010 at 1:19 am

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