Eric Deggans, Tampa Bay Times TV and Media critic, visited Eckerd College recently to speak to the faculty and students about his book Race-Baiter. He was called a race-baiter by Bill O’Reilly on “The Factor” a few years ago and decided to use it as the title for his book. To watch the actual interview, click here.
He gave a presentation on how the media, particularly the movies and Fox News, continue to use “scary black people” to promote their racist agenda. What an unbiased journalist’s view he has of Republicans, Fox News, the Tea Party, and Bill O’Reilly.
Deggans spoke of how as a child he watched the movie Born on the Fourth of July, where blacks were portrayed negatively twice and only positively once. While I saw the movie but did not read the book, I believe that it was an autobiography. If the scenes described accurately captured the text of the book, and the book described the characters’ race, perhaps this was not racism, but fact.
Deggans began his slide show with photos of the late, great Andrew Breitbart, along with James O’Keefe dressed up as the pimp who exposed ACORN for the corrupt organization that it has proved to be.
He called Breitbart a yellow journalist, and referenced his expose of Shirley Sherrod speaking about her racism against rural white farmers in Georgia. Deggans explained that the video was taken out of context with deliberate editing, and that Sherrod had been speaking about her previous racist views and how she had overcome them. While it is true, the video was not shown in its entirety, he failed to mention how Sherrod was involved in the case Pigford vs. Glickman. The case goes back to 1997, when 400 African-American farmers sued the United States Department of Agriculture, alleging that they had been unfairly denied USDA loans due to racial discrimination during the period 1983 to 1997. On January 5, 2010, Congress approved the Claims Resolution Act of 2010, granting the “the largest civil rights settlement in history, with nearly $1 billion being paid to more than 16,000 victims.” One of the recipients of the settlement was Shirley Sherrod, who, with her husband, co-founded New Communities, a collective farm which received a $12.8 million settlement, which included $8.2 million in compensation for loss of farm land, $4.2 million for loss of income and $330,000 to Sherrod and her husband for mental anguish.
Mr. Deggans has a very low opinion of the Republican Party. If Mr. Deggans wants to truly help improve the discourse between the races, perhaps he should begin by educating himself, and then others, about how the Republican Party was formed in most part to abolish slavery in this country. White Americans and free blacks fought in the Civil War, brother against brother, father against son, to eliminate the enslavement of blacks. Over six hundred thousand Americans paid the ultimate price to end slavery. When one considers that from the time that America became a free and independent republic until slavery was abolished was less than one hundred years. This is truly exceptional, considering that to this day slavery exists and is even legal in many countries around the globe. In recent years, the human sexual trafficking of minors has reached alarming numbers and slavery (although hidden) has returned to America.
Perhaps Mr. Deggans would do well to learn the true goal of the Democratic Party in its support of Planned Parenthood and the Affordable Health Care Act. It was never about a woman’s right to choose. It has always been about the belief of its founder, Margaret Sanger, “to stop the multiplication of the unfit.” In a 1939 letter to Dr. Clarence Gamble, Sanger wrote “We should hire three or four colored ministers, preferably with social-service backgrounds, and with engaging personalities. The most successful educational approach to the Negro is through a religious appeal. We don’t want the word to go out that we want to exterminate the Negro population, and the minister is the man who can straighten out that idea if it ever occurs to any of their more rebellious members.”
Deggans asked his audience what Newt Gingrich meant when he said that President Obama is a food stamp president. I thought, well, he meant that there are more people on food stamps in the United States than ever before due to his bad policies and incompetent leadership. I was wrong! What he really meant, according to Deggans, was that our BLACK president was giving free food to BLACK people. And speaking about President Obama playing hoops is also racist apparently!
He then asked why we thought the Tea Party liked Herman Cain. I thought, well, he was a successful businessman and a fiscal conservative who believes in small government. I was wrong again! Deggans explained that the Tea Party liked Herman Cain because he was “race insurance”. He speaks about race like they do.
In today’s America, the worst statement one can make about another is that they are racist. People are afraid to speak for fear that what they say will be misinterpreted. Personally, I find that for the most part, people of different races do fine getting along with each other. It is those who use the issue to advance whatever personal, political or societal goal they have that keep digging and scratching at the wounds of America’s past, keeping them raw and not allowing them to heal.
A suggestion for Mr. Deggans…perhaps your next book could be a primer to teach whites all of the words and comments that white people need to avoid so they will not be labeled racists.
I hate to agree with him, but Bill O’Reilly was right!