Sunday, August 1, 2010

On Wise Latinas, Empathy, and the Shirley Sherrod Case

Late to the game, but I figured a serious post was in order.

Last year, the late spring/early summer right-wing outrage centered on the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Her "Wise Latina" comment was ripped out of context (it specifically referred to discrimination cases) and characterized as racist. When the context was provided, the charge of racism was neutralized, so the right-wingers attacked the concept of empathy having a role in judicial rulings, with Alabama creep Jeff Sessions commenting, "Empathy for one party is always prejudice against another."

The current right-wing outrage centers around allegations of racism on the part of the NAACP, which led to the context-free posting of a brief clip of a speech by a USDA employee who was fired as a result of the posting. Of course, the full videotape of Shirley Sherrod's speech exonerated her.

Ms. Sherrod, whose father was killed by a white farmer in 1965, found herself faced with the task of saving a white farmer's property from foreclosure. As she described in the brief clip that was posted to the t00bz, she was initially reluctant to lend the white farmer "the full force of what (she) could do". She ultimately relented, and helped the man save his farm... her empathy allowed her to see that this individual shared the plight of the black farmers she had previously helped, and to overlook the fact that he shared the racial background of her father's murderer.

Yeah, it was empathy which convinced her to help the Spooners, the very quality that the right-wingers ridiculed last year. Just as a "wise latina" would more easily picture herself in the situation of any individual facing discrimination than a rich, healthy, straight, white male, this wise African-American woman was able to place herself in the position of a poor white farmer. An overprivileged white guy, the sort of guy who would vote against extending benefits for the chronically unemployed, would probably have forclosed on the farm, all the while characterizing the Spooners as deadbeats.

Well, at least some good may come of this whole sordid affair. Shirley Sherrod plans to sue the odious Andrew Breitbart (the discovery process in such a suit will be hilarious). Hopefully, we'll soon be seeing the last days of Dicko.

1 comment:

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I've heard promises of not hearing from Breitbart anymore. I'll believe it when I don't see it.
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