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NAACP “Apology:” Too Little, Too Late

12 August 2010 — Since this article was published, several things have happened.  Most notably, the family that Sherrod supposedly did not fully assist has come to her defense, the NAACP has withdrawn their condemnation, and the USDA offered to rehire her.

As to the first, from the content in the video, it was not clear Sherrod had changed her course of action.  However, if the family says she saved the farm, then she saved the farm.  That information alone should indicate that she has left her bigotry in the past.  That Sherrod immediately began leveling charges of racism at the Tea Party indicates she hasn’t.  She may not remain a racist, but she is still a partisan hack who believes in operating by any means necessary—as long as the tactics are directed at the opposite side of the aisle.

Further, unless the crowd had heard her story before, or it was preceded with something along the lines of “let me tell you about the event that ended my racism,” their reaction remains disturbing.  Unlike the CPAC crowd’s condemnation, Sherrod’s audience seems to approve of her apparent disregard for the white farmer.  I will withhold judgment until I have seen a full video or transcript.

To the NAACP and USDA.  Stop blaming the Tea Party for your reactions.

The original post follows, unmodified from the time it was published.

Following the resignation of the racist Shirley Sherrod from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the NAACP has released the obligatory non-condemnation of her comments at the NAACP Freedom Fund condemnation.

First, the NAACP President and CEO, Benjamin Todd Jealous says:

We concur with US Agriculture Secretary Vilsack in accepting the resignation of Shirley Sherrod for her remarks at a local NAACP Freedom Fund banquet.

Racism is about the abuse of power. Sherrod had it in her position at USDA. According to her remarks, she mistreated a white farmer in need of assistance because of his race.

It’s commendable that Jealous has taken the time from making baseless accusations of Tea Party racism to almost directly call out one of his supporters who actually is a racist.  Of course, he also begins to immediately distance the NAACP from their own banquet by repeatedly calling it a “local event,” and provides cover for Sherrod by portraying her comments as an isolated incident.

Her actions were shameful. While she went on to explain in the story that she ultimately realized her mistake, as well as the common predicament of working people of all races, she gave no indication she had attempted to right the wrong she had done to this man.

The reaction from many in the audience is disturbing. We will be looking into the behavior of NAACP representatives at this local event and take any appropriate action.  [emphasis mine]

The “local” office that was directly overseeing this event is still a part of the NAACP.  It is not some autonomous entity that has stolen their name and is using it without permission.  I was not at the event, so I don’t know what was said outside of the tapes that have been released.  However, there is currently little, if any, indication that Sherrod felt any remorse for her actions.

As for the crowd, they showed no signs of disapproval when Sherrod announced that she didn’t do all she could for the farmer because he was white.  Contrast that to the reaction of Conservatives to bigoted remarks by Ryan Sorba at last year’s CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference).

Finally, if the NAACP is so concerned by Sherrod’s remarks, why did it take over a year and media publicity to address them?  I am not asking Jealous to personally condemn any malicious members with a widely publicized press conference, but there is no evidence of any private rebuke.  I’m fairly certain the NAACP can determine the speakers at its banquets.  Sherrod’s attitude should have disqualified her from any future relationship with the organization.  Jealous’ comments would sound less hollow if he had been able to point to specific actions taken privately by the NAACP in the wake of this event.  That he cannot indicates further systemic problems with his organization.