Reinstate Shirley Sherrod at USDA. Reject the Dog-Whistle Racism of the Radical Right

I just posted this note via the contact form at the White House, regarding the forced resignation of Shirley Sherrod from her USDA position.

If Shirley Sherrod is not IMMEDIATELY reinstated in her USDA position, my support of Obama is over. Done with. I donated $250 to his campaign, and for us, that was a LOT of money. I expected change. But the change I expected was not a knee-jerk reaction to the dog-whistling right wing racist press of Andrew Breitbart, based on a FALSIFIED VIDEO, that had been manipulated to make it appear this woman was acting in a racist manner. When in fact, the family was HELPED by her, and they love her for it to this day. If her resignation is allowed to stand, my support of this administration is over. At an end. I am sick to death and at heart to see Obama and this administration kowtow and buckle to the radical racist right wing Republican neo-Confederate party again and again. I am done with it. I have told the Democratic campaign committees already to quit calling us, and quit mailing us. They will get no more money from us. Why should they? If I had wanted this sort of action, I would not have voted for Obama and the Democratic party straight ticket.

And just to make it clear, it is the Obama White House that is the problem here, this report quoting Ms. Sherrod on the pressure to resign she received from the White House.

Shirley Sherrod, a former USDA employee who resigned after a controversial video surfaced, told CNN Tuesday that members of the Obama administration “harassed” her and demanded she resign her post immediately.

In an interview with CNN, Sherrod said she repeatedly fielded calls on Monday during a long car ride, during which officials insisted that she pull over to the side of the road and quit her post.

“They asked me to resign, and, in fact, they harassed me as I was driving back to the state office from West Point, Georgia yesterday,” Sherrod told CNN. “I had at least three calls telling me the White House wanted me to resign…and the last one asked me to pull over to the side of the road and do it.”

Sherrod said the final call came from Cheryl Cook, an undersecretary at the Department of Agriculture. Sherrod said White House officials wanted her to quit immediately because the controversy was “going to be on Glenn Beck tonight.”

“We did not pressure USDA or Ms. Sherrod,” a White House official reportedly wrote in an email on Tuesday to The Washington Post.

Vilsack Will Review Decision to Fire Sherrod

At least the NAACP has the guts to admit that they were wrong, and leaped to judgment based on erroneous facts. They have now issued a critical statement on this, calling for Sherrod to be reinstated. Below is the first part of the statement. Go read the whole thing.

July 20, 2010

(BALTIMORE, MD) – NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous issued the following statement today after a careful investigation into the presentation of former USDA Official Shirley Sherrod.

“The NAACP has a zero tolerance policy against racial discrimination, whether practiced by blacks, whites, or any other group.

The NAACP also has long championed and embraced transformation by people who have moved beyond racial bias. Most notably, we have done so for late Alabama Governor George Wallace and late US Senator Robert Byrd — each a man who had associated with and supported white supremacists and their cause before embracing civil rights for all.

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.

The fact is Ms. Sherrod did help the white farmers mentioned in her speech. They personally credit her with helping to save their family farm.

Moreover, this incident and the lesson it prompted occurred more that 20 years before she went to work for USDA.

Finally, she was sharing this account as part of a story of transformation and redemption. In the full video, Ms.Sherrod says she realized that the dislocation of farmers is about “haves and have nots.” “It’s not just about black people, it’s about poor people,” says Sherrod in the speech. “We have to get to the point where race exists but it doesn’t matter.”

This is a teachable moment, for activists and for journalists.

NAACP Statement on the Resignation of Shirley Sherrod

Of course the real background story here is the role of Faux Noise Nutwork (otherwise known as the Fox News Network), which repeatedly and willingly pushes stories like this, knowing they are fabrications and lies. But they are not reporting news, they are the water carrying propagandists of the radical conservative right wing.

Rachel Maddow went after Fox News Tuesday night for its role in propagating the Shirley Sherrod story, but she also criticized the White House for continuing to fall for the network’s stunts.
After showing repeated instance of Fox News anchors pushing the idea that Sherrod was a racist based on an out-of-context excerpt of a speech she gave to the NAACP earlier this year, Maddow laid into the network.
“This is what Fox News does, this is how they are different from other news organizations,” Maddow said. “This is why the White House argued months ago that Fox should be treated as a media organization but not as a normal news organization, because they don’t treat news the way a normal news organization treats news. Just like the fake ACORN controversy, Fox News knows that it has a role in this dance….
“Fox does what Fox does, that is dog bites man, that is not interesting. What is interesting about this story is that the Obama administration inexplicably keeps falling for it.”
Blasting the White House and Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack for requesting Sherrod’s resignation based on a false (or at least out-of-context) story, Maddow said:
Dear White House, dear administration: believing conservative spin about what’s so wrong with you and then giving into that spin is not an effective defense against that spin. Just buying it and apologizing for it, and doing whatever they want you to do doesn’t make the problem of them lying about you go away. In fact, it makes it worse…

The huge tide of negative publicity that followed these video tapes and the coverage they got on Fox wall-to-wall was a dishonest political stunt that bears no resemblance to journalism and no resemblance to the actual facts of what happened. But it worked. Means be damned, in the end it worked.


Author: Ron