Dear Obama, Learn From Shirley Sherrod and Stop Letting the Right-Wing Propaganda Machine Win
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Editor's note: On Wednesday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued Shirley Sherrod a public apology, and reportedly offered Sherrod a new job at USDA.
“It hurts me that they didn’t even try to attempt to see what is happening here, they didn’t care.”
-- Shirley Sherrod, on her forced resignation from USDA within hours of the right-wing media airing a heavily edited video of Sherrod speaking at an NAACP event. The edited video purportedly portrayed Sherrod and the NAACP as racist; the full video of Sherrod’s speech showed otherwise.
Dear Mr. President,
With all due respect, it’s time to man up. It is time, way past time for you to grow into the job you were elected to do, and promised to do. It is time to stand up and be the man we hope we elected. It is time to justify that hope, and the trust that was placed in you. It is time to pick up the mantle of history that has been entrusted to you and prove yourself worthy of carrying it forward.
Too much is at stake now. Too many people are beginning to think their faith in you was misplaced. What’s worse is you are proving them right.
Strike one was Van Jones.
Strike two was ACORN.
And now Shirley Sherrod had become strike three.
Yours has become an administration that remains loyal to people who are and have been part of the problem. (Any problem we’re currently facing. Pick one.)
It’s an administration in which Ben Bernanke can keep a job, but Van Jones can’t.
It’s an administration in which Larry Summers can keep a job, but Shirley Sherrod can’t.
It’s an administration that leaves twisting in the wind good people who are trying to be a part of the solution, but have the misfortune of being targeted by smear campaigns from a political right-wing you clearly fear more than you respect the concerns of not just progressives who worked hard to put you into office, but the very people Sherrod spoke of in her unedited speech.
Here is an excerpt of the speech (the full transcript is available at the link):
But where am I going with this? You know, I couldn’t say 45 years ago — I couldn’t stand here and say what I’m saying — what I will say to you tonight. Like I told you, God helped me to see that it’s not just about black people — it’s about poor people. And I’ve come a long way. I knew that I couldn’t live with hate, you know. As my mother has said to so many, “If we had tried to live with hate in our hearts, we’d probably be dead now.”
But I’ve come to realize that we have to work together and — you know, it’s sad that we don’t have a room full of white and blacks here tonight, ’cause we have to overcome the divisions that we have. We have to get to the point where, as Tony Morrison said, “Race exists but it doesn’t matter.” We have to work just as hard. I know it’s — you know, that division is still here, but our communities are not going to thrive — you know, our children won’t have the — the communities that they need to be able to stay in and live in and — and have a good life if we can’t figure this out, you all. White people, black people, Hispanic people, we all have to do our part to make our communities a safe place, a healthy place, a good environment.