•    Tea Party’s “Shirley Sherrod Video Fraud”   

    Scales of Balanced Justice

    There are two kinds of Republicans: 1) Overt Tea Party supporters and, 2) In-the-closet Tea Party supporters who want a free ride without taking any risks. So to talk about the so-called “Tea Party” is to talk about all Republicans and the mentality they represent. And that mentality, which they espouse in a ‘proud as a peacock’ manner, is a self-centered “give me mine” the hell with the others — it’s every man for himself — “I am NOT my brother’s keeper” — kind of unregulated Darwinian ‘Survival of the Fittest’ Sarengetti Plains kind of economic struggle.

    For the Tea Party mentality, the very concept of the term “humanitarian” is nothing more than left-wing liberal code language for a socialist – communist government that would take from the rich to give to the poor — by their reckoning, a swindle because the “have-nots” are have-nots merely because they are fat, lazy and stupid. Therefore, the “have-nots” deserve their plight because they have created it for themselves via laziness and their general inferiority in functional abilities. The Tea Party view is “we shouldn’t let this inferior sector drag the rest of us down with them.” But in any event, even if the “have-nots” did not bring it on themselves, the Tea Party ideology takes the ‘Free Enterprise’ position that “It’s not my problem” and it’s not MY responsibility, therefore the government should not hold me responsible by funding assistance for them through MY tax dollars. Many call this Reaganomics. It is the bedrock position of every Republican and every Tea Party member. Given how anti-Christ — anti-Compassion — anti-caring this ideology is, one is hard-pressed to explain its overwhelming support by the vast majority of so-call Christian-right political ideologues. Perhaps it has to do with the distinction to be made between Christianity ‘as the spirit of Compassion’ versus the “Christianity as petrified dogma” garden variety weed which infests the Christian-right political mentality.

    Without going any further, it is easy to see the ‘fraud’ lurking inside the stealth premises of this ideology. First and foremost is the fact that the playing field is and always has been tilted in favor of the “haves” and against the “have-nots.” The “haves” get the lowest loan rates, the fewest number of toxic dump sites in their neighborhoods, the best schools, the highest per capita level of police protection, the highest salaries with the most time spent on the golf course, and the best health care. And wonder of wonders — the lion’s share of it is paid for by the “have-nots,” just as the southern slaves paid for the sumptuous lifestyles of southern whites 150 years ago.

    One might care to note that the Salvation Army Christmas bell-ringers invariably do NOT position themselves in front of the Macy’s or Lord & Taylor department stores, but instead go where the hearts are ‘open’ and not quite so self-centered — in front of the Kmarts and the Wal-marts, the dens of the poorer strata of society. The bell-ringers know well that the creed & dogma of the iron-fisted “It’s not my problem — I’m not my brother’s keeper” tightwads is not fertile territory for finding the selfless sharing hearts that open up wallets and acknowledge a connectedness and responsibility to others.

    There is much fraud and dishonesty hidden in the stealth Tea Party premises which prop-up their ideology. And by reason of these defects, their ideology does not have much power to persuade others. Those who are in the “haves” group tend to side with the Tea Party view for the practical reason of preserving their advantage as “haves.” And those who are in the “have-nots” group tend to oppose the Tea Party ideology because it, by definition, is calculated to benefit the “haves” at the expense of the “have-nots” by keeping the adverse lopsided ‘playing field’ in place, which in turn, will secure the “haves” group against erosion.

    Because of the inherent and obvious defects in the Tea Party ideology, they must, and quite often do, resort to fraudulent, deceptive means to increase support for their position from people who, had they not been duped, would never have found themselves supporting that Tea Party position. There is one recent and glaring incident that serves as a graphic example of this kind of Tea Party dupery — the Shirley Sherrod video tape fraud incident.

    Conservative website publisher Andrew Breitbart posted a heavily edited excerpt of a video purporting to show Shirley Sherrod making explicit admissions of being racist, and that video was quickly picked up by Fox News and posted. Sherrod was director of rural development for Georgia, a position within the U.S. Agriculture Department. The video excerpt purported to show that Sherrod admitted to treating white farmers unfairly because they were white.  (fn 1)

    USDA director Tom Vilsack immediately called for Sherrod’s resignation and without hesitation, Obama endorsed Vilsack’s decision. The NAACP President Benjamin Jealous swiftly and vocally followed suit, wholeheartedly endorsing Sherrod’s removal.  (fn 1)

    It turned out that the excerpt was deliberately torn out of its all-important, pivotal context in Sherrod’s March 2010 speech which it was lifted from. It turned out that Sherrod “was sharing this account as part of a story of transformation and redemption,” and that “In the full video, Ms. Sherrod says she realized that the dislocation of farmers is about ‘haves and have-nots.’ ‘It’s not just about black people, it’s about poor people’ ” Sherrod said in the full speech. “We have to get to the point where race exists but it doesn’t matter. ” It was just an anecdotal story about how Sherrod came face-to-face with her own racism and renounced it, rather than succumbing to it. Just the opposite position and image from what the Tea Party swindlers had fraudulently tried to portray.  (fn 1 & 2)

    But USDA director Tom Vilsack, the Obama administration and the NAACP were all sucker-punched by this deceitful, incomplete video excerpt, torn out of contact, which neither Vilsack, nor Obama nor the NAACP bothered to check-out or investigate, even though the Tea Party group that posted the video excerpt has a ‘notorious’ reputation and history for defrauding the public with ruses exactly like this one. Neither Vilsack, nor Obama nor the NAACP even bothered to contact Sherrod, the subject of the video, to hear her side of the story before prematurely and imprudently lashing out with virulent self-righteous indignation and condemnation statements against Sherrod.

    Once it was disclosed that everyone had been sucker-punched by yet another ruse Tea Party video sham, Vilsack , Obama and the NAACP had to swiftly retract their militant premature condemnations of Sherrod and proffer their deep, heart-felt apologies to her.  (fn 2)

    The haunting point of this sordid counterfeit Tea Party Republican episode deserves great emphasis. “If an ideological position has great merit, it does not need to rely on fraud, deceit and subterfuge to win over supporters.” This point needs to be conversely expressed as well. An ideology that relies on fraud, deceit and subterfuge to win over converts, does so because it has no merit of its own and is therefore incapable of prevailing in the open marketplace of ideas when it can ONLY rely on the truth.”

    What blistering irony, that the Tea Party purported champions of “Free Enterprise” and purportedly the chief advocates of government “non-interference” with the “Free Enterprise” private sector, would have molested and ‘interfered’ with the Free, Open “Marketplace of Ideas,” in such an extremely fraudulent and destructive way that it can only be described as “an act of sabotage.” And perhaps it’s a lesson learned about Dems being too overly eager to accommodate the disingenuous political right, whose obstructionist strategy is entirely consistent with such acts of bad-faith desperation.

    In short, the Tea Party Republicans “Played the Race Card” — the same swindlers who constantly and disingenuously accuse others of playing the race card for advantage, used a sham video excerpt in order to bash blacks under false pretenses. The NAACP’s expressed concerns about “Tea Party Racism” is now conclusively proven to be warranted — ‘proven’ by the Tea Party’s own indefensible conduct. That is a brutal irony that should not be lost by the voters in the November 2010 midterm elections.

    Footnote 1 Link: “NAACP ‘Snookered’ Over Video Of Former USDA Employee — CNN News Report — July 21, 201


    Footnote 2 Link: “Sherrod Offered New Job,” July 22, 2010


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