Yesterday was the day that the video Andrew Breitbart promised of a racially divisive Barack Obama in his days as a student at Harvard was released. It was almost universally panned as a pathetic and desperate boatload of nothing. After first yammering that the video posted by Buzzfeed (scooping Breitbart) was “selectively edited,” the Breitbartians posted what they said was the “uncut” video. Their version contained about two seconds more that consisted entirely of Obama hugging Prof. Derrick Bell, whom he had just introduced at a rally.
Since the video itself was proven to have no material evidence of anything the least bit detrimental to Obama, much less the cataclysmic data that would doom his career, the Breitbartians resorted to Plan B: Demonize Prof. Bell and tie him around Obama’s neck. This was a coordinated plot that began with Breitbart editor-in-chief Joel Pollak robotically repeating the mantra that “Derrick Bell was the Jeremiah Wright of academia.” Pollak even went on CNN and admitted that the video was irrelevant, and when Soledad O’Brein asked him “Then where’s the bombshell, I don’t see it?” Pollak responded that “The bombshell is the revelation of the relationship between Barack Obama and Derrick Bell.” But that wasn’t any revelation at all.
The argument that the Breitbartians are making rests on their assertion that Bell’s writings on Critical Race Theory define him as a racial radical. In fact, CRT is an aggregation of legal concepts that bring together law, politics, economics, etc., in a broad-based study of race and power in society. It posits that there are institutional barriers to eradicating racism that must be addressed at the root level. Those barriers are evident in things like employment practices and school admissions. Another example is the judicial system that incarcerates a higher percentage of African-Americans than their representation in the population. Affirming that example is the fact that crack cocaine, used by more African-Americans than whites, is punishable by sentences ten times more severe than powder cocaine, for which you find more white offenders.
Nevertheless, the Breitbartians are deliberately misinterpreting the legal theory in order to condemn its proponents, including Bell. In this way they can assert that Obama, as a result of his having studied at Harvard, is also a racial radical. The object is to incite fear among those who are ill-informed that Obama aspires to threaten their status in society. He is coming after your jobs, your schools, your churches, all the trappings of your comfortable, privileged lives.
In the wake of the initial flop of the video’s release, the right-wing media has been redoubling its efforts to stir up a phony controversy. Fox Nation has posted multiple stories on the subject (it has been at the top of their page for two days running). Fox News has featured it on their broadcasts, notably the video “exclusive” presented by Sean Hannity. Ironically, Fox Nation posted a video of a debate about Bell between Michelle Malkin and Juan Williams, but edited out Williams entirely.
Note the edit at about 2:20 where Hannity says that Juan’s gonna disagree, but then fades to Malkin saying “No, no. no.”. What Williams said in between was…
“Well, first of all, I must say, I thought this was going to be so much more. I thought this was going to be the smoking gun, as you describe it. But it really didn’t come too much. I mean, I just don’t think that there is.”
And that’s all that Williams was permitted to say in the entire segment, but they even cut that out when they put it online. And then they have the nerve to complain, falsely, that others “selectively edited” video.
Pollak and his Breitbart colleague Ben Shapiro have been making the rounds on the lamestream media. On CNN they argued with Soledad O’Brien over the meaning of Critical Race Theory, but spoke very little about what any of it had to do with Obama, despite O’Brien’s attempts to steer them back to the topic. That’s a tactic designed to keep the focus off of substance and aimed squarely at innuendo and slander. For good measure they threw in a bashing of the media for trying to suppress the video (for what reason, they never make clear), and to silence them (even while they are speaking on the air).
For its part, the Breitbart web site has been piling on with articles that reek of racism. One article was authored by J. Christian Adams, a notorious race-baiter who has accused Eric Holder’s Justice Department of coddling civil rights violators if they happened to be black. He wrote that…
“Both Obama and Bell demanded that Harvard hire professors on the basis of race. […] The Obama-Bell connection is the latest in a pattern of Barack Obama’s associations with individuals who promoted a racially divisive America.”
That’s an open assault on affirmative action, which was not developed to produce hiring on the basis of race, but to put an end to it. Adams also repeated the lie that Obama had appeared with a member of the New Black Panther Party. In fact, Obama attended a civil rights rally that was attended by thousands of people, one of whom happened to be an NBPP member. Obama had no control over who came to a massive, public rally. Adams also characterized cases of civil rights abuse as “crackpot racial grievances.” That pretty much reveals his personal bias.
Another story posted by the Breitbartians alleged that “Obama Forced His Students To Read Bell at the University of Chicago Law School.” Their evidence was a document describing a course that Obama was teaching. The course was “Current Issues in Racism and the Law.” It would be difficult to teach such a class without the textbook materials by one of this generations most respected scholars on that subject. But the allegation is made even worse by that use of the word “forced” as if it were under duress. By that measure isn’t every student forced to read something? In fact, many of the references to Bell’s writings specifically said that they were optional reading.
Meanwhile, over at NewsBusters, there was an article that alleged that the non-event video was being suppressed as part of a conspiracy orchestrated by George Soros (Isn’t it always?). The evidence of that was that Soros’ foundations had made donations to Harvard (where the video took place) and WGBH (the public TV station that owned the video). Using their logic I can surmise that the Koch brothers are behind this whole phony video scandal because they have made contributions to NewsBusters.
And, believe it or not, they even have a Plan C: It’s a Cover Up! The video was a bust. The racial attacks could backfire. So if all else fails, blame it on a massive cover up. The Breitbartians took on another black Harvard professor, Charles Ogletree, by posting a video wherein he said that “We hid this during the 2008 campaign…” He was referring to the video of Obama at Harvard. Of course there would have been no reason to do that since, if anything, the video shows Obama in a positive light. The truth is that Ogletree was joking. He even laughed immediately after, which proves that he was humorously dismissing the throw-away line. but, not surprisingly, the humor-challenged righties didn’t get, even though Ogletree’s audience did.
The absence of any substance on the video has led to a redirection by the right to their usual stance against Obama – he’s black. His associates are black. And they advocate for radical concepts like equal justice under the law. They support fairness in hiring and other social contracts. They oppose discrimination.
If anyone is advancing a racialist philosophy, it’s the right-wingers who are peddling this repulsive nonsense. And if there is anything positive to take away from this, it is that they have once again shown their true colors. It isn’t about a video of a young future president. It isn’t about health care or oil prices or deficits. It is, and always has been, about one thing for these meatheads. They just can’t accept a black man in their White House.