1. “sure sounded racist” “[e]xhibit A” of “what racism looks like.” “a speech to the NAACP that sure sounded racist.” Fox’s Steve Doocy
2. Claiming Sherrod’s speech was “outrageous, and perhaps everybody needs a refresher course on what racism looks like,” and “I mean, it is really a shocking admission,” Fox’s Alisyn Camerota
3. “She was, like, bragging that she withheld … all that she could do” to help the white farmer. Fox’s Brian Kilmeade
4. “This emerges and pretty much confirming what many of us thought about people who’ve burrowed their way in the Obama administration with radical outlooks, a radical agenda, and in this case, a racist sentiment expressed clearly by her.” And “[T]he question is how many more people like Ms. Sherrod exist in the Obama administration who aren’t so stupid, as she was, to actually explicitly state her views on this question of race. It’s really — it’s really shocking. And Andrew Breitbart, by the way, did a great piece on this whole thing, fantastic.” Right-wing Conservative commentator and frequent Fox guest Laura Ingraham
5. “Will Eric Holder’s DOJ hold accountable fed appointee Shirley Sherrod for admitting practicing racial discrimination?” Twitter post by Andrew Breitbart
6. “Racist Govt Official/NAACP Award Recipient Resigns after Big Government Expose.” headline at Andrew Breitbart’s Big Government
7. In refering to Sherrod, “obviously has some sort of Marxist or redistributionist qualities to her.” Glenn Beck on his radio program after she was asked to resign.
8. “Sherrod shouldn’t be given her job back. The broad is a Marxist. I have no sympathy for her.” Twitter post by the right-wing conservative Human Events editor Jason Mattera.
9. Sherrod supports “the haves versus the have-nots and the need for redistribution.” She is a supporter of “obamaism”. Rush Limbaugh radio show.
10. Without offering any supporting evidence, Sherrod can be counted among the “radicals, racists, socialists” that have been “stocked” in the Obama administration. Fox News’ Monica Crowley
11. Sherrod is “a communist, radical, socialist, terror-sympathizer.” “White farmer-hater Shirley Sherrod is linked to Bill Ayers.” Rabid anti-American right-wing blogger Jim Hoft (Gateway blogger)
12. Comparing Sherrod to racist tea nut leader Mark Williams, exclaimed, “It’s every bit as hateful as the New Black Panther video. Look at that woman! I mean, aren’t you ashamed?” MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Margaret Carlson.
13. Video of Andrew Breitbart suggesting that the Spooners, the white farmers who Shirley Sherrod helped, are co-conspirators in a scheme to make Big Government look bad. Also at the same link Glenn Beck is sure the whole fiasco, started by Breitbart’s lack of journalistic integrity and zeal for revenge against the NAACP, thinks this is some sort of twisted conspiracy orchestrated by the president to discredit Fox News.
Some background by Ta-Nehisi Coates, On Lacking All Conviction
Yesterday, that same administration forced out, Shirley Sherrod, a longtime Civil Rights worker and black USDA appointee, evidently, because she dared confess that she’d once been motivated by racial prejudice but had since seen the error of her ways. Sherrod details how, as a child, her family was essentially terrorized by the Klan and white vigilantes. Her father was murdered 45 years ago. Her widowed mother, at one point, had to stand on the porch with a rifle to fight off the Klan. “I know who you are!” she yelled at them.
Sherrod’s personal story is about redemption, and the case she highlights took place 20 years ago, long before she was working for the federal government.
I’m generally a little wary of hero worship. To be humans to have physical and moral frailties built in. Look hard enough – with some people like those listed above you do not have to look very hard – and you’ll find flaws. Sherrod is her very down to earth way demonstrates one of those moments that gives humanity a little hope that we are capable of rising above the fray once in a while. In that since I wouldn’t say we owe those above a thanks, but the opportunity to see the contrast between those that seek to be more virtuous and both who seem very comfortable with their repugnant values and malicious ways.
And that’s where the truly significant and rare courage of Sherrod becomes so consequential. Unlike so many who are caught in similar right-wing/media smear storms and (understandably) back down, Sherrod refused to meekly slink away. She conspicuously refused to apologize for things that merited no apology. Rather than legitimize the accusations with defensive self-justifications, she put the blame squarely where it belonged: on Brietbart, on the NAACP for condemning her without all the facts, and on the Obama administration for demanding her “resignation.” And as a result of her refusal to allow these false smears to go unchallenged and the low-life smear artists to be rewarded, the true facts have emerged. The actual culprits in this episode — basically everyone except her and the white couple who came forward to defend her — are clearly identified and exposed, with their credibility in tatters. And it’s hard to imagine the administration’s not reversing itself and offering to re-hire her, thus being forced to reverse a serious injustice.
As much value as Sherrod’s NAACP speech has for everyone, her conduct in the face of this massive onslaught is even more instructive. It ought to serve as a template for how people respond to all of these low-life, right-wing smear campaigns: with unapologetic clarity and resolve about who the actual wrongdoers are.