July 21, 2010

Tell President Obama to Reinstate Shirley Sherrod

This blog joins with ColorOfChange in demanding that the Obama Administration reinstate Shirley Sherrod.

The Obama administration just caved in to the right-wing smear machine, firing a Black USDA official after she was smeared by far-right blogger Andrew Breitbart and his friends at Fox News Channel.

On Monday, Andrew Breitbart (a blogger who works closely with FOX News and has a long history of launching deceptive, racially charged smear campaigns) posted a deceptively edited video of USDA employee Shirley Sherrod speaking at an NAACP function. The video shows Sherrod telling a story about how she once was asked for help from a White farmer, and how she didn't "give him the full force of what I could do" to help him, because of his race.

Breitbart touted the video as evidence that the NAACP and the Obama administration tolerated racial discrimination against White people, saying that it showed Sherrod's "federal duties are managed through the prism of race and class distinctions." Breitbart's doctored video and false storyline moved quickly to FOX News, where on-air personalities called for Sherrod's firing.

The truth is that Sherrod was telling a 24-year old story about her work for a non-profit organization whose mission was to help Black farmers. Discrimination against Black farmers was rampant, and she described how she was first reluctant when approached by a White farmer named Roger Spooner for help (Sherrod also says that her father was killed by a White farmer 45 years ago). But after seeing that no one wanted to help Spooner, she worked to save his farm, and eventually became good friends with his family.

Yesterday, Roger Spooner said that Sherrod saved their farm and kept them out of bankruptcy. He told CNN, "I don't know what brought up the racist mess. They just want to stir up some trouble, it sounds to me in my opinion."

The NAACP was snookered.   They joined the attack on Shirley Sherrod based on the the edited video.  They should have simply watched the full speech before they rushed to judgement.   The full video is shown below:

It took less than 24 hours for the lies to be debunked. But by that time, it was too late — Sherrod was forced to quit.

Once the truth became known, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a statement saying that whether or not the smear campaign against Sherrod was based in lies, it was necessary to fire her because the "controversy" would make it hard for her to do her job.

The Obama administration is essentially saying that they will always back down in the face of dishonest, race-baiting smear campaigns launched by right-wing propagandists. They've ended the career of someone who did nothing wrong, and by handing a victory to the people who launched this deception, the administration is encouraging them to launch even more smears. All to avoid "controversy." It's pathetic, it's shameful, and it has to stop.

It's not the first time this has happened. Several members of the Obama administration have lost their jobs or been demoted, and nominees to cabinet positions have either stepped down or withdrawn their nominations after becoming the target of smear campaigns launched by FOX News and Breitbart.

It's bad enough that we have to fight the constant smear campaigns and appeals to racial paranoia from FOX and the right-wing media. But it's completely shameful and outrageous for the Obama administration to throw innocent public servants under the bus just to avoid having to fight back against the lies.

Please join us in calling on the White House to immediately give Shirley Sherrod her job back, and to stop bowing to the will of right-wing propaganda artists.


msladydeborah said...

There is already back peddling about Sherrod's dismissal from out of the Department of Agriculture. In an interveiw this morning she has stated that she is uncertain about returning to the agency. She is not sure how she will be treated after this incident.

I am a long time supporter of The Color of Change. But this is one petition that I am not going to sign or encourage others to sign.

Why? The statements about the NAACP are not true. The word snookered comes from the game of billards. It means leaving an opponent without a direct shot. It also means being the victim of a dupe. Which could apply here if the evidence and direct shot was not in possession of a branch of the NAACP. Ben Jealous was incorect in how he chose to respond. There is no way in the hell I am willing to shift that off on Faux news or anyone else.

There is a riff going on between all of the parties mentioned in the petition-minus Sherrod. I have been keeping up on the news about both groups actions and reactions. Sherrod was the victim of both sides playing tit-for-tat games around race.

Ben Jealous gave a very well crafted statement denouncing Sherrod's remarks. He co-signed her dismissal by siding in favor of the decision. While it is true that it was already a heated topic, it's time that Jealous get hip to real deal, they are just fanning the flames right now and he's helping them do so. So if he's gonna be the big dog he'd better learn how to handle the heat.

This is the digital age. How long would it have taken for the president of the NAACP to receive a copy of the video that is now circulating? My embeded copy comes from the naacpvideo account on You Tube. The content of Sherrod's remarks are the direct fire back that would of left Faux and company ass out in this situation. Of course the entire speech would have to be viewed prior to making a statement.

It was obvious to me that no attempt had been made by the national leadership of the NAACP to hear Sherrod's side of the story. That didn't go by Glenn Beck either. He defended her and mocked the NAACP's failure to extend Sherrod that opportunity. While Faux news & company set up the video, Jealous is the head of the oldest civil rights organization in the United States.His actions has made the organization look totally insensitive to a woman of color.

That is on Jealous shoulders and I am not willing to validate his excuse for how he responded.

If anything we need to demand that all the parties involved in this incident apologize to Shirley Sherrod. She deserves that level of respect.

Villager said...

Lady D - I feel ya'! It is obvious that the NAACP did this Black woman ... and grandmother ... a great disservice by jumping to a conclusion without asking for her side of the story ... or researching their own video archives for the full video of the speech.

Ben Jealous and the NAACP decided to step into the deep end with their attack on the Tea Party ... they need to learn how to swim a little better...

Karen Swim, Words For Hire said...

A comment on Twitter by Prof. Harris-Lacewell @harrislacewell sums up my feelings:
"I know I was tough on NAACP, but the disloyalty of allies worries me more than the dishonesty of opponents."

I was appalled that the NAACP did not research before issuing their statement. CNN did their research and reported the story in its entirety.

Surely, WE of all people should understand the devastating impact of judging without facts. I expect this from Fox but am more disappointed in an organization that purportedly stands to protect us from this nonsense.

And yes, I hold the administration accountable as I would any employer. It's a bad situation all the way around. --Karen

msladydeborah said...

I came back to add this remark. I feel that Ben Jealous needs to apologize to Sheryl Sherrod. I really feel that this situation will not be set right until he admits that he was disrespectful to her.

He has to send a different message out to people of color. Our sons and daughters have to know that when things are incorrect there is a way to make them right. In this case Jealous needs to step up and do the right thing.

Iya said...

Will try to share this link with
friends. I heard the entire speech
Wednesday. Thanks for sharing it here.

Villager said...

Omo - Thanx! I appreciate you for taking time to comment.

Lady D - My understanding is that Ben Jealous did call and speak with Ms. Sherrod to apologize and NAACP issued formal (written) apology as well.

Karen - I agree with everything you said ... and also with the comments of Prof. Lacewell-Harris. NAACP messed up bigtime on this one. Oddly enough it is almost one year to the date from the Gates 'beer summit' episode...