Bob Herbert in today’s NYT on USDA official Shirley Sherrod– an op-ed called, ‘Thrown to the Wolves’.
Ms. Sherrod was not even called into an office to be fired face to face. She got the shocking news in her car. “They called me twice,” she told The Associated Press. “The last time, they asked me to pull over to the side of the road and submit my resignation on my BlackBerry, and that’s what I did.”
This is brutal, and reflects badly on the Obama administration.
Someone should have talked to our Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. When he met with constituents at the Butcher Block Deli several months ago he was asked about defunding ACORN. This was at the height of the hysteria. He said that his time as an attorney general had given him a great regard for the principle of innocent until proved guilty. ACORN had its problems, but was hanged on trumped up evidence, it turned out.
You can’t keep your principles when you react to every news cycle. The more that comes out about Shirley Sherrod the more disgraceful this episode becomes.
In 2005, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, there was a news story that some right-wing journalist was looking for examples of rich white people who died in that disaster. There were no such cases. At the time I was going to the ‘No Time to be Silent’ vigil on North Main Street in Providence, and took the microphone to sing a song I had been inspired to write–
‘Looking for Corpses in All the Wrong Places’.
Some people are desperately trolling for examples of black racism oppressing white people.
My minister gave me a good take on that. He said that the real harm comes from prejudice plus power. When prejudice can shut doors and systematically exclude millions of Americans from equal opportunity we need systemic reform.
Shirley Sherrod was probably collateral damage in a political game aimed at discrediting the NAACP and black people generally. Sadly, the point she was making when her words were taken out of context is that we need to look beyond our differences and recognize our common need for justice.
It will be our loss if she leaves public life. And Sheldon Whitehouse had it right, that everyone deserves a hearing.