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21 July 2010

Calling out Conservatives

This story has been all over the news the last few days - I've heard something about it every time I turn on NPR. Basically Shirley Sherrod at the USDA allegedly claimed to refuse help to white farmers. The video of the talk where she mentioned this was posted on some conservative blogs and Fox News (Specifically Bill O'Reilly and Sean Hannity) grabbed the story up. Sherrod was forced to resign from her position on the grounds that her actions were racist. Then the full, unedited video was posted, and it turned out that she was just providing an example of learning from past mistakes. The Obama administration apologized and offered her another job.

Here's the problem... the media has made this into another criticism of the Obama administration. I agree, they should not have trusted these blogs and should have looked into it further before taking such harsh action. But the Obama administration is not to blame here! It's the conservative bloggers who are to blame! More and more, they're making shit up just to get people upset - this is just one case out of many - and in this case, they've won despite being exposed. Conservative bloggers and talking heads need to be called out for spreading this kind of misinformation, and not allowed to scurry away under the criticism of Obama. Why are we not hearing profuse apologies coming from O'Reilly and Hannity?


Josh said...

Depressing. I usually have respect for people with opposing view points, but it makes me nauseous to know that their view points are based on (usually deliberately) false information.

michael- said...

Great points Jeremy. That's the thing with the conservative value-system, the view all opposition as a "war". It's part of that general worldview, meme-system, psychological orientation, or whatever to "uphold the right" and "hold fast to what they know" and fight any attempts to fashion a world not of their making - for it is 'they' who have access to the (big T) Truth! So factual (little t) truth, for them, is much less important than God's Truth or the Truth of their value-culture. Everything is a holy war against the great evil - be it "terrorism", "socialism", "liberal media" or what have you. Whatever is not like them is against them, right?

Problem is, because the conservatives look at everyday life as a guerrilla war against change and those deemed evil they are actually more successful than worldviews with more tolerant orientations. They fight dirty and hard while progressives laugh at them and make jokes and stick to their own thing. In a "culture war" who do you think has the advantage, the dismissive jokers or the passionate "warriors"?

This is a characterization, but research has shown (by Clare Graves or Robert Kegan for example) that this worldview when adopted has these traits and is fiercely defended.

So your call to engage conservative bloggers and talking-heads more directly and strategically is EXACTLY, in my opinion, what is needed. If people don't start talking conservative tactics and thier willingness to cross any line to wage "war" they will end of dominating U.S culture AND politics.

People want something to believe in and in the absence of strong alternatives they will flock to the narratives that offer the most passion.

Great post J!

Jeremy Trombley said...

Thanks, Josh and Michael. Just as an update, I did hear that O'Reilly has apologized - still not sure about Hannity or Briebart.
But I don't think it matters. I'm not interested really in apologies, especially since the dominant focus of the press is still on blaming Obama. What I want is for them to be censured in some way, and maybe even for them to be "asked to resign." I think back to the Dan Rather debacle, where he was forced to resign because he failed to fully research some of the documents he was using against Bush, and they turned out to be fake. Why is this any different? Just a little bit of exploration would have revealed the truth about this video. They should have at least watched the whole thing before making these outrageous claims.

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