Today, I read a post on TPM suggesting that the Pigford Settlement could’ve been a second target for right-wing blogger Andrew Breitbart and his like in addition to the NAACP (for their criticism of the Tea Party leadership for tolerating racism within their ranks).
…Andrew Breitbart’s timing of the release of the grossly distorted video of Sherrod, which he admits having had for weeks, may not be entirely random. Congress will soon vote on whether to fund part of a settlement between the USDA and African-American farmers who faced acknowledged discrimination — farmers like Sherrod and her husband used to be…..
They say there are no coincidences in politics.
The Pigford Settlement awards $1.25 billion to African American farmers who were discriminated against by the Department of Agriculture for loans and subsidies for decades. The case was filed in 1999. The first time I heard about the plight of African American farmers was through a documentary by Charlene Gilbert titled “Homecoming …Sometimes I am Haunted by Memories of Red Dirt and Clay.” Charlene is professor and director of the Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women at the University of Toledo. “Homecoming…” is the story of her family farm in Georgia and investigates the social and political backdrop of land lost among African Americans in the South.
The Shirley Sherrod firing/doh!/rehiring story is being spun back into the same race goop where media outlets, politicians, and pundits still haven’t found an articulate voice or credible vocabulary for any kind of forward discussion — What is “reverse racism????” The opposite of “forward”? (ref. Nikki Giovanni)
Shirley Sherrod was obviously the wrong lady to finger.
For me Shirley Sherrod’s firing/doh!/rehiring story has two parts:
PART I: An example of poor employee and crisis management on the part of USDA. Basic procedures were not followed:
– If there is an employee in question, call a meeting with the employee first and get his/her side of the story — and especially for an employee who has a good track record.
– Review everything in question in its entirety.
– Don’t make public statements until you’ve done all of the above.
– Never fire someone in the middle of the night or while he/she is driving a moving vehicle. That’s reckless management.
Giving oxygen to a big fat lie.
PART II: Andrew Breitbart’s post on BigGovernment.com of a 2 min. video selectively edited from a 43 minute speech by Sherrod at an NAACP banquet in March that got the ball rolling.
– The press didn’t do their fact checking and ran with it; even the intended target, the NAACP, tripped on it.
– Members of the press are now blaming the Obama administration more than Breitbart for potentially destroying Sherrod’s life. Breitbart’s either off the hook or welcomed to the club.
But even Glenn Beck called this one:
Now if she is relating a story from1986 to make a point about how her racial perceptions have changed, this woman deserves her job back.
Gotta give him credit for checking out the whole story when his pending broadcast was being factored into the decision to fire Sherrod.
Sherrod now has an impressive list of sincere public apologies going all the way up the chain that include regrets from the NAACP (who retracted their admonishment and posted Sherrod’s full speech), Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, to WH press secretary Robert Gibbs. A chat with the President of the United States by phone topped it. For the media, Fox’s Bill O’Reilly and some of his colleagues have made on-air apologies. The only one who hasn’t is Andrew Breitbart.
Why? Because they’re reloading, and this time it is about Shirley Sherrod and the Pigford Settlement according to a post on Media Matters. According to MM, Ben Shapiro is suggesting that Sherrod “fraudulently” received compensation from the settlement. Just for the record, it was Republican Senator Chuck Grassley who introduced the legislation to reopen the Pigford case. Grassley wasn’t the only Republican who agreed that the USDA discriminated in this case.
My guess is
Britbart’s someone’s “lawyered up.” Rather than admit blame/fault with an apology, it’s best to go rapid fire in the hope that something will stick or drive the rest of us to total insanity distraction.
Sherrilyn Ifill, professor of law at the University of Maryland, has a poignant reminder:
Every claim they make should be regarded with suspicion and fully verified before comment. Their motives are not irrelevant to how skeptically their charges should be reviewed. Their rhetoric is too often deliberately divisive and hateful. And sloppy. And the entire country suffers for the distractions created by these individuals who are committed to turning America backward on race. Lost in today’s news focus on the Sherrod affair, for example, is the fact that the Congress finally voted yesterday to extend unemployment benefits for millions of out-of-work Americans. Our country cannot move forward unless we stand down the racial manipulation that keeps our eyes off the prize.