Georgia Agricultural Official Resigns After Controversial Speech at NAACP Conference

Conservative bloggers are expressing outrage over comments at the recent NAACP conference made by Georgia director of Rural Development Shirley Sherrod. After watching the video, I think they have good reason to be outraged. While Sherrod has claimed that the remarks were “misconstrued.” While Media Matters has raised valid concerns over the fairness of the view as edited, the comments still contain racist elements. She has now resigned.

The video has surfaced after NAACP accused Tea Party member of racism and the Tea Party severing of ties with one of its founders over a racist rant.

This video shows Sherrod recounted “the first time I was faced with having to help a white farmer save his farm” and how she viewed the farmer as trying to be “superior” to her while she controlled the money for such farmers.

“He had to 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 have 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.”

She notes that, to avoid any later complaints, she said she took him to see “one of his own” — a white lawyer” “I figured that if I take him to one of them, that his own kind would take care of him.”

UPDATE: the NAACP denounced the comments but has now retracted the original statement below.

Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, while condemning her recent comments, had earlier praised her selection. However, even after the retraction of the earlier NAACP statement, Vilsack stood by his decision on the need for the resignation. The next day, however, Vilsack said he would review the decision.

Yesterday, Andrew Breitbart released heavily-edited video of a speech that Shirley Sherrod, then-USDA Georgia Director of Rural Development gave at the NAACP Freedom Fund dinner in Georgia this year. Breitbart writes that in the video, “this federally appointed executive bureaucrat lays out in stark detail, that her federal duties are managed through the prism of race and class distinctions.”

Media Matters has responded to the story and accused Breitbart of misleading people on the story — insisting that the video is heavily edited. They note that Sherrod was telling a story she had described took place decades ago when she worked for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund. The video reportedly excluded the fact that Sherrod spoke of how she went on to work with and befriend the man. She is quoted as saying at the end of the story: “And I went on to work with many more white farmers,” she said. “The story helped me realize that race is not the issue, it’s about the people who have and the people who don’t. When I speak to groups, I try to speak about getting beyond the issue of race.”

This account is supported by the farmer’s wife who credited Sherrod with saving their land.

That is indeed redeeming, but I am not sure it rectifies the problem given the shocking first part of the story. UPDATE: there could be legal consequences to the editing of this tape as discussed in a later blog. The story suggests that (assuming this was reportedly roughly 20 years ago), these were her sentiments in 1986. That is pretty shocking even if she did ultimately help the farmer and overcome such racial issues. Nevertheless, the retraction should force Breitbart and others to come forward to explain why the end of the story was clearly removed to avoid the mitigating material.

Below is the full original statement from the NAACP:

July 20, 2010
NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous issued the following statement today after a careful investigation into the presentation of former USDA Official Shirley Sherrod.

The NAACP has a zero tolerance policy against racial discrimination, whether practiced by blacks, whites, or any other group.

The NAACP also has long championed and embraced transformation by people who have moved beyond racial bias. Most notably, we have done so for late Alabama Governor George Wallace and late US Senator Robert Byrd — each a man who had associated with and supported white supremacists and their cause before embracing civil rights for all.

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.

Having reviewed the full tape, spoken to Ms. Sherrod, and most importantly heard the testimony of the white farmers mentioned in this story, we now believe the organization that edited the documents did so with the intention of deceiving millions of Americans.

The fact is Ms. Sherrod did help the white farmers mentioned in her speech. They personally credit her with helping to save their family farm.

Moreover, this incident and the lesson it prompted occurred more that 20 years before she went to work for USDA.

Finally, she was sharing this account as part of a story of transformation and redemption. In the full video, Ms.Sherrod says she realized that the dislocation of farmers is about “haves and have nots.” “It’s not just about black people, it’s about poor people,” says Sherrod in the speech. “We have to get to the point where race exists but it doesn’t matter.”

This is a teachable moment, for activists and for journalists.

Most Americans agree that racism has no place in American Society. We also believe that civil and human rights have to be measured by a single yardstick.

The NAACP has demonstrated its commitment to live by that standard.

The Tea Party Federation took a step in that direction when it expelled the Tea Party Express over the weekend. Unfortunately, we have yet to hear from other leaders in the Tea Party movement like Dick Armey and Sarah Palin, who have been virtually silent on the “internal bigotry” issue.

Next time we are confronted by a racial controversy broken by Fox News or their allies in the Tea Party like Mr. Breitbart, we will consider the source and be more deliberate in responding. The tape of Ms. Sherrod’s speech at an NAACP banquet was deliberately edited to create a false impression of racial bias, and to create a controversy where none existed. This just shows the lengths to which extremist elements will go to discredit legitimate opposition.

According to the USDA, Sherrod’s statements prompted her dismissal. While we understand why Secretary Vilsack believes this false controversy will impede her ability to function in the role, we urge him to reconsider.

Finally, we hope this incident will heighten Congress’s urgency in dealing with the well documented findings of discrimination toward black, Latino, Asian American and Native American farmers, as well as female farmers of all races.

75 thoughts on “Georgia Agricultural Official Resigns After Controversial Speech at NAACP Conference”

  1. If I was her I would hire someone to kill the person who murdered my father. Even if it costs $50,000 for absolute secrecy and 20 years.I am a female myself , there is no insult than letting your father’s murderes get away. I feel I wouldnt have peace if I dont get that done.
    I am white myself and have seen plenty of white people get away with murder even with less planning and justification.

  2. Awwwww. Did you and your team do all that typing just for me? Well isn’t that special.

    I could really give a damn what you do, you demonstrated theocratic and homophobic bigot. Demonstrated by your own words and actions. As in proof. In your own words no matter how much you try to back peddle or equivocate. Which makes my assertions more than opinion. It makes them facts.

    Just like other trolls have hung themselves with their own words and actions, so have you. The path a tread is littered with their virtual corpses.

    What? I’m supposed to be all a’scairt o’ youz now cuz you gotz the Jesus allegedly on your side? You don’t have the right tools to “bring it to me” honey. So you just go ahead and flail away. I’ve had worse and certainly smarter attackers than you and I’ll do to you what I did to them: I’ll sit back and laugh and laugh. Completely at your expense, mind you, and you’ll look just as ridiculous and hateful as you always do. What’s really sad is it took you so many words to come to the final thrust of “nanny nanny boo boo”. Your infantile and distorted thought processes shine through once again.

    So what are you going to prove about me, Tootles? Hmm? That I’m a meanie? That I’m better educated than you? That I’ve got a mouth full of honey and razor blades?

    All you have a chance of proving about me is that I’m a vicious bastard when dealing with illogical fundies who’d take joy in a child being discriminated against and try to turn this into a “Christian Nation” in contravention to the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.

    Oops! I guess that cat’s out of the bag now! muahahahaha! But hey! At least I’m consistent.

    And to be clear, I’m criticizing you for being a hypocrite in regards to the Constitution in addition to your other “finer” qualities, not for being legalistic. You being properly legalistic would be both shockingly refreshing and as improbable as my cats suddenly speaking Mandarin Chinese. Because if you had a clue about the law, you’d realize that Christians (or indeed practitioners of any faith) don’t get to “imprint” your values” on our secular legal system. And just because you believe in a fairy tale version of the Bible to rationalize away your small minded hatreds, you don’t get a pass from me and The Logic Patrol either.

    Ciao, Tootles! Feel free to attack again any time you want to be ridiculed. Really. It’s no problem at all. Less fattening than chocolate and more fun than television.

  3. Blouise:

    I’m I Christian. We don’t believe people should be burned to appease the harvest gods. We don’t even believe tiny human organisms in the womb should be sacrificed to the money or convenience gods either.

    Group Tootie Inc. Over and out.

    See you all tomorrow. Lord willing.

  4. Gynes:

    I try never to be off-topic. And from what I’ve seen here by others, I don’t believe that I am. I try to fit in with the atmosphere of others, but I cannot fit in with the ideology. So, I don’t the charge of being off-=topic applies to me unless it applies to just about everyone else.

    Regarding inflammatory comments, I guess, if one was at pro Osama bin Laden website and said they liked the Jews, that would be inflammatory.

    I suppose being inflammatory is then a good thing?

    I suppose to people who like to rob banks (should they ever get their own little websites), law enforcement officer’s comments opposing bank robbery would be inflammatory. Inflammatory has its virtues then?

    At a blog where devout religious people appear to be held in contempt, I suppose positive religious opinions by religious persons would automatically be considered inflammatory. It must be nice to label anything others say as inflammatory. That way a drive can be made to make sure they don’t get to speak or when they do they are demeaned or belittled. Anything can be labeled thus by those who don’t want to hear critics.

    My primary intent is not to provoke others. It is not even a secondary or tertiary intent. It is of no intent by me. My primary intent is to engage others–significant others: scholars, intellects, etc. It is to discuss the great issues before us. And it is to offer my opinions and conclusions. I’m rough around the edges and that is probably why it looks “inflammatory”.

    And so I disagree with your claim that I am a “troll”. (I’m envisioning those little dolls I used to have).

    It is clear that this country is experiencing an upheaval the likes of which have not been seen since the Civil War. Everyone needs to speak up and be heard and that means the rabble too. During times like this, opposing ideas become vilified and attacked. People will get imprisoned and harassed for them.

    It is those who think others don’t have the right to speak (because they are trolls perhaps) who imprison, attack, and destroy others.

    Not the other way around.

  5. Buddha:

    The child is not being punished. Neither are the parents. That is simply nonsense. That family likely has more schooling choices than I or my offspring ever had. If punishment was occuring, it would be more that the children cannot attend any good school ever. And this is not the case as the child has many options, including home-schooling (an excellent option since home-school kids do as well academically as private school kids) and apostate church schools with excellent academic reputations.

    I didn’t get to put my child in whatever school I wanted just because I wanted him or her there. It isn’t all about me either. And I wouldn’t be so arrogant or pushy as to believe I should force my way in to a place that didn’t want me when there are plenty of other options. Families are always screened, accepted, or rejected for whatever reason (it ought never to matter)at private schools. The operative word here being “private”.

    A larger issue is the community they (the adults) would become a part of. Private schools are close intimate communities in which families become members of for usually over a decade. The school should have the right to reject people into their community who would undermine the goals or beliefs of that community. If they cannot, then that community will no longer be what it intends to be. It would even no longer be the thing that attracted the usurpers in the first place.

    This is a no-brainer. But, I know that leftists like to force themselves on others and are spoiled brats who get very nasty when they don’t get their way.

    It is because good parents in the past did always choose to go along with the rules the school set forth that the school in questions has come to attract the attention of outsiders, even obnoxious, arrogant, and selfish ones. And the unwillingness of these particular parents, to abide by the conditions which have led to so wonderful and desirable a community, would appear to be clear evidence that the parents would NEVER fit in with the community and indeed bring harm it always pushing a agenda the community does not want.

    It is these parents who would appear to punish their own children by teaching them they have rights to things they ought not.

    The Bible verse you refer to is about LEGAL punishment in such a case as a father committed a crime (a murder) and the son was executed for it. Perhaps you are confused about this topic, but the churches are not allowed to hold trials and execute murderers. And needless to say a church school shouldn’t be allowed to either. In fact, the church has no legal authority such that it is remotely able to do what you are suggesting.

    I find it amusing that at the number-one legal blog (arguably in the world) you are criticizing ME for being legalistic. If I cannot say God was specific in His book to me (at least as specific as a District Attorney would be in a legal case), why should I bother with it when it means whatever anyone (including Christophobes) wishes it to mean?

    There is (according to scripture) indeed a death penalty for disobeying God. Ought it not be a precise matter, then, to read His word?

    If the Bible is up to the kind of interpretation you think it is, it is of none affect. Perhaps that is your goal?

    So I’m sticking to the literal interpretation of scripture unless it is clear from the context that it is not to be taken literal. That way I know for sure what God said and what you are saying in bunk.

    The New Testament outlines what is to be done with rebellious or un-biblical members of their congregations, and believe me, what is to be done with them would wind up falling on rebellious believers’ children. This would be the fault of the parents, not the church. The New Testament makes no exceptions because of these children. Suffer the little children? Absolutely. Nevertheless, remove the rebellious.

    1 Cor 5:9-13:

    “I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler–not even to eat with such a one.
    For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.”

    The wicked have no children? By your reasoning, it would seem so. But scripture makes no such distinction about them.

    We are talking about a church school where church families/members send their kids. It is THEIR church school. It is their right. And the Bible would more confirm it than not.

    I’m not sure why you brought up the verse about loving your brother and being in the light. The first verse applies specifically to believers. They are in a special relationship with one another and this reminds them of that. They are still to be kind to outsiders but the verse you quote is directed specifically to believers, not believers to non-believers. And if you want to apply the “in the light” business, why don’t you apply it to the contentious parents pushing themselves on others?

    The Bible at once tells believers to love their enemy but keep him at a distance when necessary. If not, the Christian would knowingly be inviting bank robbers and car thieves to their homes and hanging out with them. The Bible never teaches this. And surely leftists would pitch a royal fit (actually, they would be delighted) to point out how corrupt Christians were if they did hang out with such folks. Not to mention how dangerous it is to associate with criminal types.

    If the parents in question are not believers (and by their conduct I assume they are not believers) there is no command for the school to open their arms to them or their children. The church school could even claim that the parents in question do not love the church folks since their conduct violates other Biblical principles which the church folks believe are essential for their faith.

    By your own standard, you are Christophobic just because I said so (this is the shtick you use against me). Your standard is that it doesn’t matter whether or not what you say about me is true, all that matters is your assertion about my feelings that I am homophobic and a hater. And in honor of your own standard/shtick, I assert that you are Christophobic and a hater.

    You are what I say you are as long as I am what you say I am and neither of us can prove otherwise. Until you stop doing this to me, thus shall it ever be.

    I’m adopting your shtick. This is a fun game and I’m so glad you started it!

    Reading on church discipline:
    http://bible.org/article/church-discipline

  6. Group Tootie is on a break or it’s shift change or the instructor is trying to pull up doc. 10B which has suitable responses complete with citations … take your pick.

    It’s always fun to read the spin especially when one considers that modern day people actually still believe these things and live their lives accordingly … it’s like talking to a peasant from the Dark Ages who steadfastly believes that an eclipse indicates that god needs a few more heathens burned at the stake in order to purify the crops. Of coarse the peasant isn’t a heathen so god couldn’t possibly want him burned ….

  7. Tootie,

    From wikipedia:

    “In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking other users into a desired emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.”

    Let’s see…

    I’d say “An unrepentant Christophobic brown-supremacist hate-monger has room to talk?” fits in the “inflammatory” bit of the definition, and was posted on a blog, so that’s two for three conditions met so far. The third one I have to guess on, but based on my knowledge of your usual modes of discourse, I’d say that your “primary intent” was to provoke another user “into a desired emotional response.”

    So, unless you’d care to point out which of the three parts of the definition your tirade didn’t meet, I’d say I’m pretty accurate in calling you a troll.

    In case you were wondering, the term comes from fishing, not from folk lore. Which is why I compared your turn of phrase to my favorite trout lure.

    http://www.bluefox.com/products/classic_vibrax.php

  8. Sorry, Toots.

    For criticism to have impact, the critic’s opine must be of both weight and value to the object of said criticism.

    1) I place no weight on the statements of someone who would punish a child for their parent’s actions.

    2) I place even less weight on the statements of hypocrites.

    3) I only value your statements here insomuch as they serve as an excellent bad example of both the practice of Christianity as exemplified by Christ-like behavior and an even worse example of understanding the secular nature of government our Constitution requires.

    Oh, and it helps if the criticized don’t consider the critics simply nuts too.

    And if this offends you, Tootles?

    Forgive me.

  9. Gyges:

    Interpreting other peoples feelings any ole way we like and applying them willy-nilly to folks we don’t like in order to destroy them or stop a discussion is the basis of leftist “conversation”.

    What is to be said about creating whatever monster one likes out of those one hates in order to dismiss oneself from listening or considering others’ opinions?

    The best thing to say, I guess, is that people can be destroyed mainly so the foundations or substance of arguments do not have to be defended or examined and the truth never gotten to.

    Of course, if people around here would stop interpreting other peoples feelings we could get down to business and perhaps make some head-way in our understanding of complex social issues as they relate to law.

    Or, at least, some might stop being infantile bullies. I’m not referring to you, of course.

  10. Awwwww. Did I strike a nerve, Tootles McTroll?

    What about Deuteronomy 24:16 which says, “Fathers shall not be put to death because of their children, nor shall children be put to death because of their fathers. Each one shall be put to death for his own sin.”?

    Or this gem from 1 John 4:20 “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”?

    1 John 2:9? “Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.”?

    And for the record, I’m not Christo-phobic.

    I’m Fundie-phobic.

    Because you bunch of hateful literalistic clowns wouldn’t know Christ (let alone Christ-like behavior) if He Himself came up and kicked you in the ass. That’d be because what you call “faith”? Is actually a form of mental illness you use to justify your petty hatreds instead of overcoming them.

    And it’s just funnier than Hell that you who would usurp the Constitution to favor your “religion” now turns to that same Constitution as a shield and a crutch. Read that carefully, that word is c-r-u-t-c-h, not c-h-u-r-c-h. I know what a problem you have both reading and understanding.

    They’ve got a word for people who want to both destroy something and yet hide behind it.

    Hypocrite.

    roflol . . .ROFLMAO

  11. This “that is how much disagreement and dissent he had with them.” should have said

    “that is how much disagreement and dissent they had with him.”

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