Conservatives on the right—be they politicians, talk show hosts, or recently departed gadflies—will do everything in their power to disparage President Obama and anyone associated with him.
And that includes digging up old videos of the late Harvard Professor Derrick Bell embracing his student Barack Obama at a rally for faculty diversity in 1991.
This moment was the “bombshell” that Andrew Breitbart, who died last month, had promised to drop but, for all intents and purposes, is a total dud.
Even so, Sean Hannity jumped on it and saw it as an opportunity to smear Bell, the first tenured African American professor at Harvard Law School, accusing him of being anti-white, anti-Semitic, and the “Jeremiah Wright of academia.” Wright was at one time Obama’s pastor who was often reviled for his bombastic anti-American speeches and sermons.
Obama has been quiet on the matter, but Bell’s widow, Janet Dewart Bell, has not and in a very composed and thoughtful appearance of the Ed Shultz Show Monday evening, she defended her husband.
“I am angry and I am sad,” Bell began, in the exclusive interview on MSNBC, “sad that they could be so dishonest but it’s just part of the right media’s pattern of distortion and misinformation.”
She said her husband left a great legacy, and that if he were here today “he would be standing up for Sandra Fluke,” Bell said, referring to the woman assailed by Rush Limbaugh as being a prostitute for her stance on women’s rights.
“Derrick was man of courage and conviction and was always standing up for justice, no matter who it was,” Bell added.
It was a very moving interview and when Rachel Maddow opened her show, which follows Schultz’s, she was ebullient with praise for Bell’s composure and her courage to come out and defend her husband and his legacy.
Bell isn’t alone in her defense. Harvard Law Professor Charles Ogletree and Obama’s classmate at Harvard, Keith Boykin, have been equally outspoken, but it took Bell’s widow to bring this right wing attempt to smear to an eloquent close.
In an interview on MSNBC’s The Ed Show, Janet Dewart Bell, the widow of Harvard Law School professor Derrick Bell, defended her husband’s reputation from attacks by the right.
The late Professor Bell has been the subject of attacks by conservative talk show host Sean Hannity and others on the right since conservative media gadfly Andrew Breitbart (who died earlier this month) claimed to have unearthed a previously “suppressed” video (which has actually been available to anyone who wanted to see it online since 2008…) showing Barack Obama cavorting with “radicals” during his days at Harvard Law school. To demonstrate that, Breitbart’s BigGovernment website, Hannity and others have smeared Bell, who died last year; calling him anti-white, anti-Semitic, and “the Jeremiah Wright of academia.”
The tapes, which showed Obama introducing Bell, and then embracing him, at a 1991 rally to call for more diversity in Harvard Law School’s faculty, have failed to ignite the anti-Obama firestorm that Breitbart and Hannity, the Fox News host, intended. Still, Bell’s defenders have come out forcefully anyway in his defense. But few have spoken more eloquently about the true Derrick Bell than his wife, Ms. Dewart Bell, did in her interview with Ed Schultz.