A controversy has erupted in the US. CNN explains:
The NAACP has retracted its original statement condemning comments made by a former Agriculture Department official who resigned after a video clip surfaced of her discussing a white farmer.
“Having reviewed the full tape by Shirley Sherrod, who is the woman who was fired by the Department of Agriculture, and most importantly heard the testimony of the white farmers mentioned in this story, we now believe that the organization that edited the documents did so with the intention of deceiving millions of Americans,” the statement from NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said.
In the video, Sherrod can be heard telling an audience at a March 27, 2010, appearance before a local chapter of the NAACP that she had not given a white farmer “the full force of what I could do” to help him save the family farm.
But in actual fact the full video shows her saying the opposite – that she’d actually done her best to help the farmer. CNN quotes the farmer in question saying: “I don’t know what brought up the racist mess. They just want to stir up some trouble, it sounds to me in my opinion.”
This reminded me of the controversy that Harry’s Place blog tried to start up by smearing the New Statesman political editor Mehdi Hasan, which I then had to debunk and illustrate the full context to explain what Hasan was actually getting at. And yet, you still read extremist nutjobs on blogs frothing about how racist Mehdi Hasan was based on the video. It was a straight-up smear job, deliberately edited down and selectively presented for a particular reason. The same applies in this context to the NAACP incident. A small but very vocal percentage of people reading political blogs aren’t interested in context or understanding what the person is trying to get at. Especially if that person is black or Muslim. They get a clip that confirms their bias and they go apoplectic.
Update: There’s an excellent summary at The Week.
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