I feel a bit of sympathy for Shirley Sherrod. You see, I was fired for “racism” once myself.
It was a weekday morning in the spring of 1989, and I was working in the lawn and garden department of Sears at Randall Park Mall (a store that no longer exists). I was the only one working the department. I had one of those high-energy, in-your-face kind of Caucasian customers, and I saw two Negro matrons waiting to be helped. The guy was a bit of a pest. I don’t remember exactly what he bought, but it was high-ticketish, and he left happy. So I turned to help the ladies, and the guy came back, wanting some little accessory he had forgotten. So I went to help him, because basically I wanted him gone. So then the women asked why I’d helped him instead of them, and I made some joke about “pushy white males.” Now, anyone in my age group would have realized that I was riffing on a cultural stereotype, and that the remark was if anything anti-Caucasian. But all these women knew is that they hadn’t gotten served, and their not getting served had something to do with the other guy being white. So they raised a big stink, and I was the propitiatory offering. Now, did I have an issue with black people, or a policy of helping white people first? Of course not. Black people’s money was just as green as white’s; greener in fact, as they more often paid in cash. I had a colleague who openly declared, “When I see a turban I run in the other direction” and was fine with the rest of us helping any middle-Eastern customer when he was around. But they weren’t threatening any boycotts, and he wasn’t saying anything to the customers about it. I can’t say that I blame Sears for doing what they felt they had to do; after all, I did use the “w word”. If I had said “pushy male”, perhaps the women wouldn’t have gotten up on a feminist high horse, but who knows?
Which brings us to the video. There’s a certain amount of rethink going on, because there’s enough context (even in the edited video) to see that Sherrod had repented of treating white folks differently. Yet she’s telling this story in this way because she knows it will play well at the NAACP, so she’s not exactly ashamed of her action or inaction. Likewise, the NAACP has backed off their earlier condemnation, under member pressure. Does anyone doubt that if the roles were reversed, if a white man had said something similar at a meeting of the NAAWP (an organization that would quite simply not be allowed to exist), there would be no forgiveness? Sherrod openly admitted to treating the races differently, in a position of public trust. That’s not only discrimination, but discrimination by a public official on the discriminated-against party’s dime.
People are discussing this in terms of strategy, and I’m going to support the Breitbart video on that basis. The Left has long been insisting on a zero-tolerance policy towards racism. Any policy is “racist” if it harms one more Negro than their per-capita share, no matter what the motivation. Criticism of Obama or Holder is racist, no matter how justified, because of the color of their skin. If they’re going to insist on zero-tolerance for racism, I say give them what they want…including zero-tolerance of the racism of holding black people to a different standard about racism. Working-class blacks are about the last refuge of anti-Semitism in this country. I’ve been the target of several anti-Jew remarks, which is funny in a way because I’m as goy as Göring, but am physically a plausible representation of Tevye. For years we had the anti-Semitic murals at Grandpa’s Kitchen (which, though Palestinian-owned, was kept in business by black people). And black people are suspicious of white people in general, for good reason…though when even the Rev. Jackson fears young black males following him at night, don’t we also have good reason for suspicion? And what about Identity churches like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s, or black-supremacist organizations like the NAACP?
Now, actually, I’m not in favor of that standard as a standard. I think everyone is worthy of “advancement”. But not everyone will join the Church or the libertarian movement (the best ways I can think of to advance everyone), and advancing people is hard work, so I really don’t mind if charity begins at home and colored people advance colored people first, as long as they grant everyone else the same right. Zero tolerance for racism means zero tolerance for everyone, because everyone has at one time or another thought a racially-collectivist thought, and frankly, I don’t have the time or energy to police people’s thoughts. There’s quite enough to do to fight the out-and-proud cases like the New Black Panther Party or the Aryan Nation. But if the Left is going to insist on using “racism” as an all-purpose insult, as the sin which cannot be forgiven, we’ll have to throw it back in their faces until they have to admit that the term means nothing. And if that means collateral damage like Sherrod, so be it. Nobody has a right to a government job. Yes, it sucks to be her. But then, it’s not like Sears has offered me an apology either, let alone my job back. No statement can be unsaid.
What’s interesting is how quick they were to make her part of the grease spot on the pavement that includes Van Jones, Obama’s grandmother, and gay people. They didn’t even want to hear her side of the story (at least Sears listened to me before they axed me). All the administration was afraid of was “You’re going to be on Glenn Beck tomorrow.” That’s a nice compliment to Beck, that he matters that much. Is the “racism” smear that useful, that they have to go to such extremes to preserve it? It’s beginning to appear that if Sherrod was harmed by anyone but herself in this, it was members of her own race, in the administration and NAACP. Which may be the worst part of this.