On my blog this week I posted a piece discussing the telling episode involving USDA official Shirley Sherrod's speech to a local NAACP gathering in Georgia. It begins with reference to the fact that a warlike focus on damaging the opposition contributed to disregard for truth on the part of all those whose actions contributed to the false outcome that hastily threw Sherrod to the wolves, bureaucratically speaking.
As their part in the political wars occasioned by the Obama faction's reckless efforts to force socialism on a reluctant people, the folks at the NAACP passed a resolution hurling deceitful charges of racism at the tea-party movement. (Sherrod's Georgia speech also included lying rhetoric to this effect, by the way.) On the excuse that Obama is a colored person, they joined the farcical effort to portray opposition to the Obama faction's culturally Marxist agenda as "racism." This implies that race is a matter of ideological preference. If true, this would invalidate the argument that racist discrimination violates unalienable human rights. In any case, if it's racist to discriminate against people because of their ideological preferences, then given their treatment of conservatives, the left-leaning leadership of the NAACP (and indeed most leaders in the Democratic Party) would appear to be the grand dragons of a KKK for colored people.
In response to the NAACP's slanderous campaign against the tea party, the folks at Andrew Breitbart's Biggovernment.com eagerly latched on to what appeared to be evidence of real racism in Sherrod's speech. They deny that they consciously falsified the record by taking the seemingly offensive remarks out of context. But when they first posted video of the speech, did they post the substantial portions now accessible at their site?
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Worse than possibly deceitful selection on their part, there's the question of Fox News' possible lack of journalistic diligence in its first reporting on the episode. Finally, of course, there comes the Obama faction's hasty willingness to throw one of their own to the jackals without bothering to hear her side of it or examine the record.
TRENDING: Is this what you voted for, America?
The moral of this story is clear. In the wars of political power and ambition, truth is a consistent casualty. But where truth is discarded, so is regard for the just treatment of individuals. Americans should be the last people in the world to feign surprise at this. The connection between self-evident truth and the just treatment of individuals is the basic tenet of our liberty. The ambition-driven carelessness of many of the self-worshipping elites who now usurp leadership in our country causes them to treat the words of the Declaration as a merely rhetorical flourish. But the initially unfair and callous treatment of Shirley Sherrod reminds us of what happens to the lives of individuals once the standard of truth is set aside in the combat for political advantage.
To me it seems appropriately ironic that this whole episode should be running its course just as the U.S. Senate sets the stage for the shiftless and reflexive confirmation of Elena Kagan. She professes to know nothing of the self-evident truth the Declaration claims as the basis for constitutional self-government. Many senators, including so-called Republicans like Lindsey Graham and Richard Lugar, act as if this profoundly unprincipled stance in no way affects her qualifications to be a justice on the Supreme Court, though the court's main function deeply implicates the integrity of constitutional government.
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The peremptory disregard for fairness in the treatment of Shirley Sherrod won't hold a candle to the peremptory disregard for right and justice likely to arise from Kagan's doctrine that individual rights must give way before efforts to combat whatever the controllers of government believe to be "societal damage." Of course, the senators' indifferent reaction to her ignorance of natural rights implies that, as far as they are concerned, such "societal damage" can certainly be defined without regard for them. However, the warlike attitude toward truth that results from the narrow-minded preoccupation with power now apparent on all sides of the current political leadership in America makes it likely that the definition will include whatever damages the prospects of their ambition or helps that of their opponents. That calculation of selfish advantage is probably the only "truth" they take seriously.
For the rest of us, it's long past time that we awakened fully to the fact that such leaders are dangerous to everyone but themselves. This isn't surprising. The tendency of those in power to abuse that power for their own advantage is one of the practical challenges constitutional government is meant to address. Of course, power-mad individuals want us to believe that we should trust them with unconstrained power because of the good they intend for us, or the harm from which they will protect us. This is the habitual lie with which demagogues prepare their path to tyranny. What's unusual for Americans is that any large number of people is willing to believe them. Unless we rein in such credulousness, we won't be Americans (that is, a people defined by their liberty) for much longer.