judging racism without evidence

27 07 2010

If you haven’t heard, there’s a big debacle going on in the federal government — well, that’s not really news, is it?  🙂   The issue I’m referring to is the firing of Shirley Sherrod for being racist.   Except that it was later discovered that her statements were taken out of context, and the firing apparently was because someone said she was racist.  These days, you’ve gotta be quick on the draw with the political correctness!  You can’t wait to examine facts and evidence!  If somebody makes an accusation, you must act immediately!  (Note the sarcasm.)

From what I’ve heard, that’s how it happened.   That’s dumb enough on its own.  (But wait, there’s more.)  President Barack Obama and the others involved in this don’t want to look rash and foolish for this, so they blamed evil FOX News.  Rahm Emanuel is blaming Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity for blowing this out of proportion.  That’s very ironic, because in an effort to cover up their stupidity, they’re making the same mistake again.  The firing happened before any of it was reported on those shows.  Again, they can’t be bothered to let facts get in the way of their bias!

There was misinformed coverage of it, and Bill O’Reilly apologized for airing part of the video without doing his homework.  But the fact remains that Sherrod resigned before the show was aired.  This hasn’t stopped other groups from blaming FOX News, though…  Howard Dean has accused FOX News of being “absolutely racist”.   (Does FOX News really have that kind of influence with the decision makers in this situation?  Or is he just looking for a scapegoat?)

But it wasn’t just FOX News that jumped the gun — the NAACP agreed with the firing, saying Sherrod had been racist and her actions were shameful.   They made the same mistake — jumping to judgment without examining the facts.   And then they also blamed FOX News and a Tea Party activist, Andrew Breitbart.  (Breitbart may have some fault in this mess, but blaming him doesn’t excuse people from not examining the facts for themselves.)

These knee-jerk judgments concern me.  This has happened before.   And the way the news is typically presented on TV these days, we rarely get the whole story.  If you watch only one of the 24-hour news networks, you might not get a fair picture of both sides of the issue.   Local news (that I’ve seen) isn’t any better.  Most stories have to be told in a minute or so, and sometimes there’s some discussion about it on certain shows about the news.  Many news stories are too complex to explain in a few minutes.  And so many people form judgments and opinions based on someone else’s opinion or on one side of the story.  That’s what happened with Sherrod — someone edited the video to show only part of her story, and it made her appear racist.  It’s happening with the Tea Party movement, with people making claims of widespread racism, yet offering little to no proof.  This irresponsible methodology seems to be getting worse.  Don’t people realize how dangerous and destructive it can be to toss unfounded claims of racism on people?
When will it ever stop?

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