Shirley Sherrod has become an unwilling pawn in an ugly game of race and politics with the NAACP facing off with the Right Wing ‘Tea Party.’
It was a week ago when the NAACP passed a resolution condemning members of the Tea Party movement as racist. A statement from their website reads “Today, NAACP delegates passed a resolution to condemn extremist elements within the Tea Party, calling on Tea Party leaders to repudiate those in their ranks who use racist language in their signs and speeches.”
Then, over the weekend a video surfaced on conservative websites featuring a woman, Shirley Sherrod, currently employed by the USDA, making what appears to be racially-charged remarks at an event hosted by the NAACP. As the story went viral, both the NAACP and the Obama Administration threw Sherrod under the bus. Shirley Sherrod abruptly resigned from the USDA, stating to the press that she was forced to resign, and actually asked by the White House to pull her car over to the side of the road to do it. The conservative media fuelled comparisons of Shirley Sherrod’s 24-year-old speech to President Oboma’s former pastor, Jeremiah Wright’s racially charged proclamations during his campaign They even dusted off the video.
It wasn’t until someone actually got their hands on the entire video and watched it — then realized what Sherrod had said in the 24 year old video tape wasn’t just taken out of context — it was intentionally manipulated – did the story quickly change.
Here is a transcript of what was spread virally.
SHIRLEY SHERROD, FORMER USDA GA. STATE DIRECTOR: That the struggle is really about poor people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right. All right.
SHERROD: You know, the first time I was faced with helping a white farmer save his farm. He took a long time talking but he was trying to show me he was superior to me. I know what he was doing. But he had come to me for help.
What he didn’t know, while he was taking all that time trying to show me he was superior to me, was I was trying to decide just how much help I was going to give him.
I was struggling with the fact that so many black people had lost their farmland and here I was faced with having to help a white person save their land. So I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do.
I did enough so that when — so I took him to a white lawyer that we had — that had attended some of the trainings that we had provided because Chapter 12 bankruptcy had just been enacted for the family farmer.
So I figured if I take him to one of them that his own kind would take care of him. That’s when it was revealed to me that the job is about poor, versus those who have. And not so much about white — it is about white and black, but it’s not — you know, it opened my eyes. Because I took him to one of his own.
Now see the full video here http://www.naacp.org/news/entry/video_sherrod/
After reviewing the tape thoroughly, the NAACP, which had initially denounced Sherrod, by yesterday evening did a complete 180 and released a statement saying, in part, “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.”
From someone who has shot and produced, hundreds — probably thousands of videos, I can’t help but believe that this video was not shown in its entirety to intentionally mislead people. What followed was an embarrassment to the current administration and the conservative media that perpetrated this video.
Not since the balloon boy hoax several months ago have we seen such an intentional manipulation of the press. This time, however, it is by an insider, one of our own — someone who knew how to really make a point. But this time the knife digs deeper, as it has fueled race relations, exposed the government’s knee-jerk reaction without thorough investigation, and exposes just how powerful the right-wing’s media has become. My question is should criminal charges be brought against the man, conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, who intentionally edited this video. I say yes. Another intentional distraction by the conservative media from the real issues affecting this country.
Big Brother may be watching, but they’re not fully paying attention. What happened to Shirley Sherrod has single- handily exposed the aftermath of irresponsible reporting in this country and put the government in check.
In a press conference at 2:40 p.m. today, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs admitted “The government acted without all the facts.” He continued “We live in a culture that things whip around, people give fast responses, we give fast response. What we take away from this is ask all the questions first…” In a genius move CNN had Shirley in their studio watching the press conference, camera rolling as Gibbs said they have not been able to reach her.
The Obama Administration has reconsidering the decision to force her resignation — and a wave of sympathy for her is mounting as it has become clear that Sherrod was the victim of a smear campaign orchestrated by the right-wing, but fueled by the incompetence of the NAACP and the Obama Administration. Right now she can’t answer as to whether she actually wants her job back. Shirley Sherrod is now the Rosa Parks of Politics, I say.