National Security and Shirley Sherrod
By John Johnson
I was particularly irritated last month by the Shirley Sherrod story.
Shirley Sherrod has worked in the civil rights movement since the Sixties, and was a member of SNCC. Her father was murdered by the KKK and her family harassed.
She’s dedicated her life to helping Black farmers, first working in non-profits, later for the Department of Agriculture. A few years ago she talked about how she was once asked to help a white farmer. She thought about deferring but quickly realized that it wasn’t an issue of race but of rich and poor. She helped the white farmer, and remains friends with him, to this day.
Recently, a racist Tea Party asshole used that story to attack Obama and the NAACP by giving it to the utterly corrupt and insane Glen Beck.
Running scared, the NAACP and the Obama Administration’s Agriculture Secretary, Tom Vilsack, threw Sherrod to the wolves. The Democrats did the same thing with the great organization ACORN, which was registering huge numbers of poor and African American voters, while helping many with their mortgage problems. Similarly, they turned their backs on Van Jones, a champion of good environmental programs. Talk about shooting themselves in the foot!
Tuesday morning when the Sherrod story broke, I shot a couple of angry emails to Obama. I suggested that the Administration ought to grow a pair. Why continue to buckle to these reactionaries, yet blow off progressives when criticized?
The next day Vilsack took the lead and blamed himself. Vilsack supports corporate farming and US farm subsidies. This includes funding the high volume production of unhealthy high fructose corn syrup, instead of programs to increase the growing of healthy organic fruits and vegetables.
On Thursday Obama apologized to Sherrod and asked her to return, but he didn’t criticize the hijacking of the story by Fox News. I heard a commentator say the President should never criticize the media because it opens the door to attack him for trying to stifle the press.
Fox News is a propaganda outlet for the National Security apparatus, as are most of the corporate media, just more blatant.
I’ve been politically active since the early Sixties, while the National Security apparatus of the United States has been piling up bodies around the world. From Southeast Asia with over three million, to at least a million in Central America, to Serbia, to Iraq and now Afghanistan with millions more, including at least 100,000 US soldiers. Vietnam and Latin America are still trying to dig themselves out of the mess the US left them in. The Obama administration continues to enable this murderous apparatus. The only winners have been the enormous corporations who’ve made billions.
Here are a few highlights from my conscious life time: The overthrow of the democratic government in Iran by the Dulles brothers, the CIA and, yes, BP oil.
The phony anti-communist crusades in the Fifties with the effort to enforce social conformity. During the Sixties Vietnam heated up, an invasion of Cuba was planned, and President Kennedy was assassinated because he didn’t go along. The massive invasion of Southeast Asia took place under President Johnson, along with continued interference in Latin America and Africa, and the murder of democratically elected leaders there.
Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated in 1968, and an all-out surveillance and infiltration of the progressive movements accelerated during the Sixties.
Then came the slander of President Carter and the phony hostage exchange that got Reagan elected.
Reagan overturned any progress by drastically lowering the taxes for the rich and corporations and by undermining labor. Wars were waged in Central America with the death squads in El Salvador and the overthrow of the democratic governments in Chile and Nicaragua.
Who can forget the fixed elections of 2000 and 2004?
The illegal, privatized, trillion dollar Iraq and Afghan wars continue, despite the Taliban’s offer to give up Bin Laden to a neutral country.
The industry-wide moving of jobs, first to Latin America, then China and Southeast Asia, boosted corporate profits, along with Clinton’s NAFTA and other so-called free trade treaties.
The labor movement, the middle class and the economy collapsed under Bush when banks, Wall Street and home mortgage companies tanked after already making a trillion from their toxic assets. Bush awarded them a $700 billion bailout, a figure many times enriched by Obama.
Under Bush, the trillion dollar National Security apparatus of the corporate-state was built and presently expands to fight a few hundreds members of Al Qaeda. With a huge complex in Los Angeles and private companies seeking more profits, we think they have something else in mind.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Sherrod is one potential victim who fought back and survived. Maybe we and Obama should take a lesson from her.