Some of the nation’s top political commentators, legislators and intellectuals offer insight into the biggest question burning up the blogosphere today.
Today’s question:What does the Obama administration’s handling of Shirley Sherrod’s comments on race reveal about the political and media environment?
Michelle D. Bernard, president and CEO of the Independent Women’s Forum, said:
The Obama Administration’s handling of Shirley Sherrod’s comments on race reveal what has been blatantly obvious since then candidate Obama became a serious contender for the presidency of the United States — our nation’s politicians and media have no idea how to handle issues of race and are even more concerned with matters of race when the leader of the free world just happens to be black. It would appear that because the president is black, the Administration and the media have become exceptionally sensitive to the possibility of anyone alleging that the president or anyone associated with the Administration is racist.
During the 2008 election, the nation focused on issues as mundane as whether candidate Obama was “too black” or wasn’t “black enough”. Later, the media’s focus turned to whether candidate Obama was racist because of his affiliation with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Later, President Obama waded into this obsession with race when addressing whether Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates was the victim of racial profiling when he was arrested in front of his own home. More recently, the NAACP made allegations that elements of the Tea Party movement are racist. This, in turn, made others feel obligated to demonstrate their belief that elements of the NAACP are racist. The collateral damage of all of this has been the national persecution of Shirley Sherrod who more than anything else, is an example of personal growth and redemption, not racism.
The world will never forget the historical significance of President Obama’s election. However, today, rather than focusing on the implications of our president being black, most Americans would probably prefer to focus on issues like erasing our nation’s crushing unemployment rate. The Administration and the media would be better served by ignoring the president’s race (it is inconsequential to issues of governance), getting its facts straight before accusing innocent people of being racist, and remembering that Americans are more focused on just getting back to work.