Quotable Quote of the Month

What does it take for Republicans to take off the flag pin and say, 'I am just too embarrassed to be on this team'?".- Bill Maher

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Shirley Sherrod: The Real Story and Its Aftermath

As you probably know by now, Andrew Breitbart posted a video on his website BigGovernment.com on 7/19/10 "exposing" the racism tolerated by the NAACP. In a speech she gave at an NAACP dinner on March 27, 2010, it appeared that Shirley Sherrod (the then-USDA director of Rural Development in Georgia) was admitting to once taking the race of a white farmer (Roger Spooner) into consideration when ultimately deciding how to respond to his request for assistance. The fallout was quick for Ms. Sherrod after the truncated video made the rounds. Not only did the NAACP come down hard on Ms. Sherrod, but she was pressured to resign from her USDA position. I hope the bus tire tracks on Ms. Sherrod's backside aren't permanent.

To many familiar with the sleazy tactics of Breitbart (the infamous ACORN nonsense), it came as no surprise that the video he originally posted on his site didn't tell the whole story.

The video suggested that Sherrod was retelling an incident that took place while she worked for the USDA

FALSE: The incident Sherrod was recounting took place in 1986, when she worked for an advocacy firm in GA.

The video made it look as if Sherrod didn't help Mr. Spooner

FALSE: Not only did Sherrod help the Spooners save their farm, she became friends with the couple.

What’s actually a story of racial healing was distorted into something ugly by Breitbart. Because of his beef with the NAACP over their legitimate claims of elements of racism within the tea party movement, Breitbart deceptively tried to show that it’s the NAACP whose racist. Unfortunately, his tactics did damage to an innocent bystander in the process.

If you're interested in watching the full video, please visit the following link:


On Wednesday, Tom Vilsack (the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture) held a press conference in which he manned up and took the blame for asking Ms. Sherrod to resign so quickly. Vilsack said he also apologized to Ms. Sherrod and offered her a new position in the department. Also, the NAACP has apologized to Ms. Sherrod for their initial reaction (see below).

In light of the Breitbart “exposé” falling down like a house of cards, the reactions have been fascinating. There's been a mix of back pedaling, blaming, and B.S. throughout the blogosphere, The White House and the MSM (which does include Fox "News"). To their credit, some conservative bloggers posted retractions in which they apologized for rushing to judgment. Predictably, these posts also included jabs directed at three of their favorite targets: The Obama administration, The NAACP, and the non-Fox "News" portion of the MSM. Of course, no matter what these three entities did, the right would have found a reason to bitch about it. In a shameful sidebar, Breitbart made the rounds of various media outlets in which he told his side of the story. Amazingly, he even had the nerve to suggest that the Spooners were "plants" who fabricated a story in an effort to save Ms. Sherrod. Note to Breitbart: when you're in a hole, stop digging!

The left has also had their say too by blaming the aforementioned entities as well as Fox "News". Note to the Obama administration: don’t jump every time the likes of Andrew Breitbart and Fox "News" say “boo!” All it does is give them the power to be more reckless and irresponsible than in the past. Having said that, I do understand President Obama's predicament. As the first black President of the United States, he is held to a different standard than his predecessors when it comes to matters involving race. Although diplomacy is one of Obama's best assets, I wish he would sometimes go into MISTER Tibbs mode and figuratively slap down the right-wing noise machine when they get out of order.

The Shirley Sherrod story shows once again that we still have a lot of distance to cover when it comes to race relations in America. I also hope that it has made crystal clear to everyone that Andrew Breitbart and his ilk won't let a little thing like integrity get in the way when it comes to taking down those who have the guts to stand up to them. When Breitbart and his enablers claim to have any evidence exposing wrongdoing/corruption by their opposition, remember the words of Chuck D. and company: “Don’t believe the hype!”

NAACP Statement

To show your support of Shirley Sherrod, please visit Color of Change and join them in calling on the White House to reinstate Shirley Sherrod and to stop caving in to right-wing smears.

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