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The Age Of Rage

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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.

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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 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.

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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.

Now that the truth has been exposed it turns out that it was the mother who killed her three children and then torched her house committing suicide in the process. The suicide note "I am sorry:" has been confirmed to have been written by the mother not the 14 year old "monster" as portrayed by those rushing to judgment to sell more newspapers and beat back the competition for advertising mega-dollars. These days, journalism runs a distant third to sensationalism it's then advertising dollars and next "yellow" journalism. To date neither the New York Daily News or Post have posted an apology for smearing the memory of a young 14-year old Black child that it portrayed as a walking, ticking murderous time-bomb.

Finally, New York's accidental governor David Patterson. Never in New York State's history has a governor been subjected to such criticism, racist jabs and disrespect as David Patterson. The New York Times, Daily News and New York Post have colluded to paint Patterson as incompetent, lacking judgment, bereft of gubernatorial temperament, and unsuited for the job since the demise of the raunchy Elliot Spitzer.

But exactly what has David Patterson done? Well, he did not cave in to the gross disrespect pushed by the Post and News that he resign and hand power over to a man he picked as Lt. Governor. Such blatant racism Patterson is Black and his assistant is white flew in the face of the New York State Constitution as these news outlets joined by the neo-conservative elements on Fox 5 et al badgered the governor for the slightest mishap.

When that did not work they fell back on old racist stereotypes by portraying Patterson as a "sex crazed Black man" running amok on the "New York plantation" who could not keep his fly buttoned. Remember the infamous New York Times expose that never materialized? And the rumor one weekend about a state trooper catching the governor groping a female staffer in a broom closet in the governor's mansion? Or the New York Post's "Patterson Caught Smooching" in a New Jersey restaurant inflammatory headline? Something that turned out to be patently false?

When all that failed these media houses and their paid racists masquerading as journalists then enjoined the governor to an as yet to be proven domestic violence case allegedly involving one of his closest aides. They made the governor an integral part of the case for allegedly simply making a call to the aggrieved party that might simply have been to find out what happened from her side.

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Remember the $800 worth of tickets that the governor is alleged to have gotten free and not paid for? Yes, that Black so-and so is a thief that's the inference here. In all three cases the white media ignored the facts and never bothered to seek the truth in these matters. In its sprint to judgment in the Age of Rage smearing the names of the innocent is perceived as a necessary form of social collateral damage. And when it involves Black people there is now a callous disregard and insensitivity encouraged by a racist national climate fostered by inflammatory statements and comments from leaders in government. Race-baiting is the new political norm and the more vicious and egregious the comment, accusation or disrespect the more accepted it has now become.


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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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