Maureen Dowd: arbiter of institutional blackness


Maureen Dowd has appointed herself the one who should tell President Obama, Secretary Vilsack and the White House Staff how to hire and deal with black people to avoid racial embarrassment in the wake of the Shirley Sherrod fiasco. You see, Obama and Jarett aren’t black enough to know this, but Dowd has talked to black enough Rep. Clyburn and Rep. Lewis and her verdict is final. The West Wing is too damn white. That’s why Shirley Sherrod was fired according to Dowd. Forgive me for not accepting the world according to Dowd’s anecdotal wisdom, some facts get in the way.

First: Sherrod was ignored by her employer. Sherrod found out about the Breitbart smear from a belligerent e-mailer before the scandal erupted on 24 hour news. She alerted her HR office to the existence of this smear as she was being harassed by an e-mailer. This should have immediately alerted the USDA that they needed to get original information and debrief Sherrod on the issue as well as make sure she wasn’t at risk of being put into any immediate or future danger.

Second: Sherrod was afforded no due process. USDA Secretary Vilsack and his deputy Cheryl Cook skipped through protocol and afforded Sherrod no chance to defend or explain herself. They first told Sherrod she would be on administrative leave, then no more than 30 minutes later they demanded she resign. The trigger? Earlier in the day Fox News began smoking the race bait crack Breitbart supplied them, and they wanted her to resign before Glenn Beck got his turn at the pipe. They didn’t ask her to explain fully during the phone calls, they didn’t interview her or seek to procure the full video.

Third and most importantly: Vilsack and the White House accepted Andrew Breitbart propaganda as journalism. The majority black NAACP even fell for the same bait when they could have easily contacted the Coffee County chapter of their own organization to get the skinny on Shirley Sherrod before issuing their statement condemning her seemingly obvious racism against white farmers. Dowd may agree with Clyburn’s summation that some more of the folks in the White House and the USDA would have prevented the Sherrod fiasco, but how would they fix the lack of blackness of the NAACP? (The same NAACP which condemned Sherrod faster than the USDA terminated her employment).

The faux ACORN scandal flourished under the same type of group think rush to judgement based on a Breitbart lie. By Clyburn and Lewis’ logic, readily accepted by Dowd, 172 of their Democratic colleagues didn’t have enough black (or black enough) aides to consult when they voted aye to defund ACORN based on Breitbart’s earlier falsified propoganda. By extension, shouldn’t the congressmen be arguing for more of their Democratic colleagues in the House of Representatives to hire some staff that is black enough and/or poor enough before they attempt to shame the West Wing for their insufficient blackness?

It wasn’t personal knowledge of Sherrod (as Rep. Lewis intimates) or black people in general (as Clyburn opines) that stymied the NAACP, the West Wing and the USDA. Sherrod’s wrongful termination and condemnation (as well as the bogus ACORN scandal) shows that the leadership inside our institutions of political and social power are still learning to competently distill reporting, factual analysis, propaganda, primary sources delivered through modern media. That is a huge problem for the Obama Administration, the US Congress and the NAACP.

It isn’t because Obama and Jarrett aren’t black enough people to care about the rest of us black enough people or haven’t employed black enough people in the West Wing. It’s because the administration they constructed wasn’t patient and media savvy enough to deal with serious and ultimately scurrilous accusations against one of their own appointees.

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