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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/29/10

The Age Of Rage

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Michael Roberts
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A rabid ultra-right racist scurrilously edited an old video tape to deliberately smear a life-long civil rights advocate whose work helped her to see "all people as people;" a 14-year old Black child found dead in a New York Staten Island house along with his mother and two younger siblings is portrayed as a monster; and a Black New York state governor whose slight contact in an alleged domestic violence incident is splattered on all the front pages of the state's newspapers. All of the incidents were discussed on national television by pundits trying to link them to the first Black president of the United States, Barack Obama in efforts to smear the squeaky clean character and reputation of the commander-in-chief.

But now that the dust has settled the sprint to judgment to either score political points, be first to break the story or simply to smear someone who differs ideologically and politically, is exposed. Shirley Sherrod, a former of the Department of Agriculture worker, was the subject of a dirty, vengeful and racist blogger's dreamed up smear campaign. Long accustomed to attacking Black organizations and people who did not subscribe or agree to his ultra-conservative "take back America" agenda, he has a reputation for underhanded shenanigans.

This time his beef was not directly with Sherrod she was used as the vehicle to get back at the nation's oldest Civil Rights organization the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). Andrew Breibart, the blogger, who is white, used a deliberately doctored snipped of a speech given by Sherrod 24 years ago on race relations and her personal experiences to attack the NAACP. This was supposed to show up the NAACP as engaging in racism against white people after the organization's president publicly accused the gadfly Tea Party Movement of having a racist phalange in its midst.

Almost immediately the piece of edited tape released on YouTube.com was picked up by Fox 5 whose commentators flew into a political orgasm as they belted both the NAACP and President Obama in an unsubstantiated set of linkages that defied comprehension. Soon other national networks trumped and followed suit smearing Sherrod in the process. Then as the tale spiraled out of control and went viral the Agriculture Department ordered the immediate resignation of Sherrod without looking into the facts. And the White House condemned her alleged discriminatory statement against a white farmer waxing eloquently without doing its home work.

We have now entered the Age of Rage and once a Black person is involved from the president of the United States on down the white dominated national and local media posits the worse scenario without even bothering to separate fact from fiction. So overnight Shirley Sherrod became a racist. Trouble is that even a simple Google search would have unearthed the ENTIRE speech that would have exposed Breibart's infamy.

But in the Age of Rage intellectual laziness abounds. Nobody, let alone news networks engaged in dog-eat-dog competition with each other, have any patience to unearth truth or present facts as news. Sensationalism, smear, character assassination and racism packaged as "reporting" are now the norm. Responsible journalism is hard work. Facebook and YouTube are now the "experts" on truth and facts.

To its credit CNN did its homework and not only produced the white family who staunchly defended Sherrod but the rest of the tape that placed her remarks in the context of teaching race relations. So President Obama had to backtrack, Tom Vilsak the Department of Agriculture boss had to offer a public apology, and the entire right-wing media had to eat crow with egg smeared on its face. But interestingly nobody called for Bierbart's head nor has he bothered to apologize for his deliberate and malicious campaign that tarnished the good reputation of a decent American Black woman. For him she's just a no-account Black woman who is expendable in his war against Barack Obama and the Democratic Party.

Just a few weeks ago the New York Daily News plastered on its front page the story of a 14-year old child that was alleged to have committed the worst kind of crime murdering his mother and two younger siblings. In a hasty sprint to judgment the local television stations also regurgitated the Daily News and New York Post sensationalistic stories. Trouble is, in their sprint to judgment they did not bother to research the story or check the facts. After all it was a Black child who is inherently dangerous, prone to criminal activities and obviously imbued with the "devil." Who really cares if he's smeared and we're wrong he's dead already.

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MICHAEL DERK ROBERTS Small Business Consultant, Editor, and Social Media & Communications Expert, New York Over the past 20 years I've been a top SMALL BUSINESS CONSULTANT and POLITICAL CAMPAIGN STRATEGIST in Brooklyn, New York, running (more...)

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