Shirley Sherrod was all over the mainstream media, and google search lists before I saw anything on Fox News. By the time I caught up wit the story it had blown up. From what I can tell, Shirley Sherrod is a sensitive and honest public servant who has been mistreated by many politicos on the right and the left. A number of people are taking some responsibility for their rush to judgment, among them Bill O'Reilly. The mainstream media can't be trusted to get the story right so here are O'Reilly's own words.
But as O'Reilly points out, there are some larger issues related to the whole incident.It is unlikely that those larger issues will be addressed because of the unfortunate and unfair way that Shirley Sherrod was initially treated. Those issues will get lost in the shuffle and any investigation will largely focus on issues over which the guilty parties, right and left, have already apologized for. Such is the nature of our politicized climate these days. Keep praying for better days and more unifying candidates.
Bracketed [ ] comments are my own.
Fairness For Shirley
This time last week, few Americans had ever heard of Department of Agriculture official Shirley Sherrod. Now she is a household name in households th
atactually follow the news. A few days ago, Sherrod was fired by the Obama administr ation for admitting th atmore than 20 years ago -- as an administr ator in -- she did not tre Georgia ata white farmer as fairly as she would have tre ated a black farmer. Her admission came as part of a speech she made before the NAACP in March. Sherrod is black.
The problem was Sherrod was rel
ating the story as part of an epiphany she said she'd had. After mulling things over, she came to the conclusion th atwh atshe had done was wrong. Unfortun ately, th atmessage was overlooked in the initial reporting, and I was one of the culprits.
Regrettably, I did not examine the full transcript of Sherrod's remarks closely enough, and after hearing th
atthe white farmer had been hosed, I said she should resign. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack [a Liberal] made the same mistake; so did the NAACP [mostly Liberal]. Like all Americans, Sherrod deserves to be tre ated fairly, and she should be reinst ated atthe Department of Agriculture. However, the situ ation deserves a top-to-bottom examin ation by the feds.
Shirley Sherrod is a longtime liberal activist who peppered her NAACP speech with racial references, such as this: "So I figured if I'd take (the farmer) to (a white lawyer), th
athis own kind would take care of him."
Now, we all make mistakes, and th
atjust might be a harmless comment. But if a white federal official referred to an African-American by using the term "own kind," you know wh atwould happen.
Then Sherrod went on to tell the NAACP audience this: "I haven't seen such a mean-spirited people as I've seen l
ately over this issue of health care. Some of the racism we thought was buried. Didn't it surface? Now, we endured eight years of the Bushes, and we didn't do the stuff these Republicans are doing because you have a black president."
atch Act prohibits federal employees from endorsing political parties while on the job. Sherrod was invited to speak atthe NAACP meeting because she was in the administr ation. So you make the call.
There are two main points here: First, Shirley Sherrod was not initially tre
ated fairly by me, some other journalists, the NAACP or the Obama administr ation. She deserved better.
And secondly, Sherrod may not be a gre
atfit for the USDA. She is obviously a very political person with a strong point of view. Public servants are supposed to look out for all the folks; it is tough for polarizing people to do th at.
So this is a fascin
ating story on many levels. We have not heard the last of it.
Bill O'Reilly's Biography
Bill O'Reilly is host of the Fox News show "The O'Reilly Factor" and author of "Who's Looking Out For You?" and "A Bold Fresh Piece of Humanity."