Tag: Shirley Sherrod
The most important thing to remember about the Shirley Sherrod incident, however, is that it was not some rare, isolated happening, but rather represents right-wing standard operating procedure: take someone's words out of context, twist them into a new meaning that will enrage the conservative base, turn an innocent if not praiseworthy person into a target for that rage, and aim to destroy his or her life as a sacrificial offering to the political gods.
As a matter of fact, the same thing is happening right before our eyes here in the great state of Virginia, where our Attorney General is using his office to tarnish the highly accomplished climate scientist Michael Mann, treating him as a common criminal - accused of "fraud" for testing and postulating climate change theories that the fossil fuel-dependent Republican party finds inconvenient. Far from being given an apology for his unjust vilification by climate deniers, Prof. Mann is instead being harassed by an alleged representative of the law itself.
Can't be certain why, and maybe this was purely coincidental, but the stars and bars were boldly displayed in the Virginia Beach Town Center last evening at the busiest intersection in the city. Looks like the discussion Eric Holder said we were too timid to have is occurring but it is neither the type of discussion nor the between whom he envisioned.
Frankly, this might not work out that well for the right. The uninformed are not all racists. In fact, the number of racists in America who will act on their prejudices may be disappointingly low for the baiters. However, the struggle will be to provide a motivation to those who would reject the baiting that can match the power of fear, hate, and loathing. A little leadership and candor would be a good start. Else the right will keep us in this ditch.
Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack said today that he is "reconsidering" his department's decision to fire Shirley Sherrod from her USDA job because of a highly edited speech she made recently to a chapter of the NAACP. The edit seemed to portray her as some sort of "reverse racist" Ironically, her speech was one of her redemption from hatred caused by a tragic murder in her family done by racist whites.
In his statement Vilsack said that he will "conduct a thorough review and consider additional facts" about his decision to ask Sherrod to resign. Apparently, the pressure put upon him by people all over the country and the full release of the speech by the NAACP has changed his mind. (The national NAACP, by the way, was the first to jump to a wrong conclusion and throw Sherrod "under the bus.") Also, Kyra Phillips of CNN has helped get out Shirley Sherrod's true story.
The white couple she helped many years ago have also defended Sherrod. She "kept us out of bankruptcy," said Eloise Spooner, in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, adding she considers Sherrod a "friend for life." She and her husband, Roger Spooner, approached Sherrod for help in 1986 when Sherrod worked for a nonprofit that assisted farmers, not for the USDA.
Here's the full story of the motivation behind Sherrod's speech.
Why is Tom Vilsack even hesitating for a minute on this? With all due respect, Mr. Secretary, you made a huge mistake in firing Shirley Sherrod based on a right-wing smear campaign. To put it another way, you were "snookered." Now, just admit you made a huge mistake and fix it! How hard is that?
UPDATE: Even Red State agrees , this was a travesty -- "Collecting scalps at what cost?"
Jonathan Capehart writes:
As the day wore on and the truth was revealed, my heart sank. The videotape that caused a firestorm had been selectively edited. Sherrod was relating a story of redemption from 1986 when she worked for a non-profit in Georgia. Sure, she didn't want to help the white man before her too much because he displayed what she called a superior attitude towards her. But Sherrod went on to talk about how she spent the next two years trying to help the man save his farm. Sherrod said she learned from that experience. That it wasn't so much about black and white as it was about helping the poor.What a pathetic, heartbreaking, unfair, absurd story. The White House needs to step in and make this right, ASAP.
But before all the facts were in, Sherrod lost her job. She told CNN that an undersecretary at agriculture told her that the White House wanted her out. The White House denies this. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said the decision was his. Meanwhile, the wife of the now-deceased farmer told CNN that Sherrod saved their family farm.
This is a travesty on so many levels. Yet my focus on is on how all this exposes why race and conversations on race almost never go well.
P.S. Oh, and hopefully there's an especially hot place in hell for Andrew Breitbard.
UPDATE: The NAACP weighs in:
With regard to the initial media coverage of the resignation of USDA Official Shirley Sherrod, we have come to the conclusion we were snookered by Fox News and Tea Party Activist Andrew Breitbart into believing she had harmed white farmers because of racial bias...Having reviewed the full tape, spoken to Ms. Sherrod, and most importantly heard the testimony of the white farmers mentioned in this story, we now believe the organization that edited the documents did so with the intention of deceiving millions of Americans.
UPDATE #2: Newsweek has an interesting take, and let's just say the White House doesn't come off well on this one. At all.