Who’s stoking racism?

In the past two week, racially charged arguments and accusations have been heating up the air waves. Allegations are out there about the Tea Party movement, the New Black Panthers, the NAACP, the Congressional Black Caucus, and certain members of the Obama administration. What’s going on here?

We’re supposed to be ‘post-racial’.

The election of Barack Obama, America’s first black president, was supposed to be a sign of our national maturity, a chance to transform the charged, stilted “national conversation” about race into a smarter and more authentic dialogue, led by a president who was also one of the nation’s subtlest thinkers and writers on the topic.
Instead, the conversation just got dumber.

And a lot angrier.

Fox News often stars a leather-clad New Black Panther, while MSNBC scours the tea party movement for racist elements, which one could probably find in any mass organization in America. Obama’s own, sole foray into the issue of race involved calling a police officer “stupid,” and regretting his own words.

Since that was written, however, Obama has at least secondarily figured into another flareup, the Shirley Sherrod fiasco.

The ex-official spoke following a whirlwind 48-hour period in which the Obama administration completely reversed its position toward Sherrod. The former Georgia director of rural development was compelled to resign Monday after a brief video surfaced showing her telling a story to an NAACP audience about how she once withheld support to a white farmer. Vilsack said he, not the White House, urged her to resign. The NAACP also initially condemned her…

The NAACP later rescinded its earlier statement and on Wednesday both Vilsack and the White House apologized, calling the incident a “teachable moment.”

Yes, it is. So what have we learned?

Now, that the facts have come to light, we have another one of those teachable moments that keep piling up without, apparently, teaching us anything.

The conservative wing of the media (on the internet, talk radio and Fox News) ran way too quickly with a story that seemed to support the narrative of reverse discrimination in the Obama administration — particularly coming on the heels of questions regarding the Justice Department’s handling of a caught-on-tape alleged voter intimidation case involving the New Black Panthers.

On the other hand…

Here’s one, for those who cringe at the very mention of the Tea Party movement…The leftist organization Think Progress has created a video allegedly demonstrating racism by Tea Party demonstration participants — except that at one of those shown was plucked from another video which clearly shows the clown being shunned by the other demonstrators.  It was a fact that didn’t seem to matter to the video’s creator — and clearly casts doubt over the validity of the overall piece.

Charges and counter-charges have been fast and furious.

If we were all to actually learn something from this incident (doubtful) it might be to slow down and think before reacting to the latest video that happens to support the narrative we have come to believe (and, therefore, are always looking to corroborate).

I happened onto a conversation Dr. Alveda King was having about the current flareup of racial allegations and the longterm civil rights cause, and she and Pastor Stephen Broden gave the best commentary and analysis on this I’ve heard. May calm heads, and hearts with honest intent, prevail.