Who’s In Charge at the White House?

| July 22, 2010 | 0 Comments


The series of events that led to the firing of USDA Agriculture Director for Rural Development in Georgia, Shirley Sherrod, has become a political nightmare for the President of the United States for a host of reasons.

Her untimely resignation was due to an edited YouTube video depicting her as a racist because of an NAACP speech she gave several years ago. In the redacted speech you hear her appear to state that while her role at the time was to help farmers in Georgia save their land, she didn’t do everything she could to help a white farmer. That one line started a firestorm of responses from people around the country calling for her resignation and she also received hate mail to her government issued blackberry.

An Unnecessary Rush to Judgment
apparently, once the speech was reviewed by her boss and the Obama administration, a decision was made to ask for her resignation. The irony of her ordeal is that it was a white farmer she helped, and he was the first to come to her defense. Not just because he knew she had actually helped him save his farm, but also because she never demonstrated any type of racism towards him in the first place.

Former USDA Agriculture Rural Director for Georgia Shirley Sherrod
Speaking at A NAACP Banquet in March of 2010

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs Apologizes For The President
I listened to a speech last night given by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs where he was asked the question “who was responsible for the rush to fire Ms. Sherrod?” His response was it was the administration, members of the left and right and the media.

If Sherrod’s boss, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, fired her of his own free will, then the question of the competency of her employer should come into play because of the bad decision made to fire her without just cause. If he was directed to fire her by someone in the Obama administration, then that person should also at least be reprimanded for their knee jerk reaction to an edited video of Sherrod.

Clearly the administration, headed by President Obama, must have the strength of their convictions and not allow the right wing media to “pull their strings”. Several cabinet positions and other appointments have been derailed due to this administration’s inability or unwillingness to face down right wing proponents. I remember clearly during President Obama’s quest for the White House when a video came out depicting his pastor at the time, Jeremiah Wright, as being a racist and shortly thereafter President Obama distanced himself from Wright. I personally believed that was a bad decision because it was Wright who provided him with spiritual guidance which ultimately helped him win the White House.

To that end, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs should be more careful about blaming members of the media especially the ones that have never really supported the Obama administration in the first place. The administration should take responsibility for the blunder it made by having Ms. Sherrod prematurely step down from her position. President Obama must stick to the agenda he campaigned on and of course surround himself with competent people who are able to make rational decisions based on facts and not on a bogus story that was started by conservative blogger whose job is to garner traffic to his website. I also find it quite ironic that the Republican strategy to deflect accusations lodged against them and place them on their accusers was once again successfully implemented, as the initial charge of racism was levied against the Tea Party and attacking Sherrod is how this conservative blogger chose to address the issue.  It’s the old and very childish…”I am but what are you?”…game.

Sherrod has some Advice for the President
When asked about her thoughts on President Obama by a CNN reporter Sherrod stated, “He’s my president. I support him fully. I’d like to help him to see some of the things he should do in the future that could be more helpful than what’s happening right now to advance the issues of togetherness in this country.”

“Obama”, she said, “hasn’t lived the kind of life I’ve lived. I know that he’s African-American, or part African-American … many of us are not totally black in our genes. I’m one of them. But he really, you know, when you get down to where the rubber meets the road, I think you need to understand a little bit more of what life is like at that level.”

Clearly this woman is a class act and didn’t deserve to be treated in this fashion. The fact that an African-American woman whose job is to fight for the rights of people of all colors was unfairly accused of being a racist is despicable and our President, who is partly of African-American descent, must surround himself with people who are more sensitive to the issues of people of color, especially racism in this country. The issue didn’t leave once Obama was elected; it just got put on the back burner of American politics. Even worse, some deign to say racism no longer exists as if this one victory magically wipes away years of historical discrimination.

Although Sherrod has been offered a new position, she has so far not said if she will accept.  Would you take back a job that you were prejudicially asked to leave from in the first place?

This incident also brings into question the responsibility bloggers bear when they knowingly and maliciously put out information that is blatantly false about someone on their website. In Ms. Sherrod’s case, she wants the blogger responsible for releasing the edited video of her speech to have his website shut down. Depending on what legal actions she takes, that may not be a difficult feat to accomplish.

Contributor: Syvia Burley

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