Breitbart (and PJ Media) vs. Shirley Sherrod
Imagine if a white government official with the Alabama Department of Agriculture stood before a Tea Party crowd and said words to this effect:
The first time I was faced with having to help a black farmer save his farm, he took a long time talking, but he was trying to show me he was superior to me. But he had 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. [Laughter from Tea Party audience.] So many white farmers were having a hard time, and I was faced with having to help a black person. So I didn’t give him the full force of what I could do. I took him to a black lawyer, one of his own kind, to take care of him.
Imagine if a white government official admitted on camera that he initially didn’t help a black farmer as much as he could have helped him, and that the official took the farmer to “one of his own kind to take care of him.” Imagine what would happen next.
We all know exactly what would happen. The New York Times, NAACP, establishment media, civil rights lawyers and community organizers would unleash a coordinated hurricane at the Alabama official. They would wreck his reputation and leave him lucky to retire in peace, unharmed. As for the Tea Party, it would endure weeks of scorn and racial accusations.
But what if the official included a story of redemption in his Tea Party speech? What if he said he came to understand race shouldn’t matter, but instead poverty should be the focus, not race? Would that redemptive statement provide the Alabama official any sanctuary from the hurricane?
Do I need to even ask?
But when the speaker is former Agriculture Department employee Shirley Sherrod, and her audience is the NAACP, reporting on events similar to these might get you sued for defamation. Just ask Andrew Breitbart. Sadly, you’ll have to ask his widow Suzy because Shirley Sherrod is now suing her. (See, "Vampires: Shirley Sherrod's Lawyers Seek to Sue Widow of Andrew Breitbart.")
Not content to enjoy any portion of a $13,000,000 settlement Sherrod’s husband Charles’ group earned in a lawsuit against the Agriculture Department for government racial discrimination against black farmers (including a $150,000 award for “pain and suffering”), Sherrod is still entangled in years-long defamation litigation with Andrew Breitbart’s widow and Larry O’Connor.
Now, Shirley Sherrod has served a subpoena on me, your author, to testify in a deposition in the litigation and turn over documents and emails between Andrew Brietbart and me. We’ll return to my subpoena in a moment.
In the meantime, savor Sherrod’s shameless irony: Plaintiff’s family receives money from a lawsuit alleging racial discrimination by the Department of Agriculture; plaintiff later admits on video being motivated by racially discriminatory intent while employed by very same Department of Agriculture and sues journalist who publishes the video.
Do the lawyers who took Sherrod’s case not recognize a laugh line when they see it?
Here are some other facts from the full Sherrod video. Sherrod’s tale is certainly one of redemption. But every redemption requires prior misbehavior or dark motives, and Sherrod says she once had, even but for a moment, a racialist approach to her life.
In a lesser reported portion of the famous video, Sherrod speaks of prayerfully seeking discernment about her future, ultimately deciding to commit to helping people. But it was a commitment with a twist. “When I made that commitment, I was making that commitment to black people, and to black people only.”
Those who knew Andrew Breitbart knew how repugnant he considered such racial exclusivity.
Let’s hope that the federal government isn’t filled with many other employees who share Sherrod’s old (and unconstitutional) attitude about helping Americans based on skin color. Let’s hope they hold the views of the redeemed Sherrod, not the racialist Sherrod.
Back to my subpoena.