Lessons from the Shirley Sherrod case

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(NNPA)—In life, there are lessons we all must learn. Making mistakes and evolving past them is, after all, the ultimate form of growing and developing oneself. Shirley Sherrod, the now infamous victim of a right-wing smear attack campaign, discussed her own personal evolution at an NAACP gathering several months back, when her comments on racial harmony were erroneously taken out of context. And in the roller coaster of events that ensued, the country as a collective simultaneously learned a necessary harsh reality: that we can no longer allow those with an agenda to dictate our discourse, politics or rule of law. And just as importantly, we cannot allow ourselves to blindly believe the vitriol being hurled towards the president, the administration and every day Americans working to further unite the nation and lead us on a path to equity.

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The extreme right has always attempted to demonize those with a progressive mission and those diligently fighting for the cause of civil rights. But for the first time, we are witnessing a dangerous new phenomenon of fanatical, right wing mistruths being incorporated in to the mainstream as if it is factual news.

Before verifying the authenticity of the Sherrod videotape, TV networks began running the story on repeat and one network in particular—Fox News—pushed the story to such an extent that soon the USDA and the administration had to interject and take bold steps. As we all now know, their actions were premature as well. It seems that everyone reacted and overreacted against Sherrod, whose very life signifies the utmost character and decency in the face of evil. And everyone has since retracted their statements and actions against the innocent former USDA employee—except those that began this outrageous false smear campaign.

Ever since Barack Obama seized the helm of the presidency, the right in this country have ramped up their attacks without hesitation, and the extreme right have taken their ire to unimaginable and dangerous levels. With the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck and others openly and continually referring to the president as a “communist,” a “Nazi” or a “reverse-racism,” the climate in the country has reverted back towards the divisive days prior to the great civil rights struggle.

When congressmen and congresswomen openly fan the flames of violence and hatred permeating across the land, we have a serious problem. When groups indiscriminately question the validity of an elected president and his citizenship status, we have a serious problem. When impeccable civil rights leaders and government officials are spat on and called the “N word,” we indeed have a severe problem. And when news organizations fail to validate and fact-check such immense stories like Sherrod’s and accept propaganda as truth, our problems have taken on a new level.

As Aug. 28th quickly approaches, we at National Action Network are diligently preparing for our gathering in Washington to commemorate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his “I Have a Dream” speech. On this 47th anniversary of that remarkable speech and historic march, we will once again remind the nation of all that the great civil rights leader sacrificed, what we fought for, what we have since achieved and how it all now hangs in the balance. We will gather peacefully in his honor, and we will not be deterred by Glenn Beck and his ilk who choose to distort reality and tarnish the memory of Dr. King.

As the events of the last week clearly displayed to all of us, there are many who dedicate their lives to division and destruction, and will stop at nothing to achieve their demonic agenda—even conjuring up lies. We cannot allow a few to distort the success and progress this nation has thus far achieved in rectifying its torrid past.

Join us on Aug. 28th as we re-live the dream and prove that unity shall and will overcome abhorrence—no matter how keenly disguised.

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