America's former Black Director of Rural Affairs, Shirley Miller Sherrod, was forced to resign by her paymasters in the USDA over comments that were entirely taken out of context, to make her appear racist, instead of what really happened - her personal transformation and realisation through her work with a white farmer - a far more commendable act.
That lady should never have resigned and has reacted to the 'review' of her case as a "bittersweet" one for her. She was not sure she would have her job back, if offered, because she didn't believe they might be able to move on from what they did to her. The fact that they have offered to 'retire' her and give her a new job in the Agency backs that up. In both her speech and her reflections , this lady comes across as a down to earth, sensible and courageous woman - a unifier - who should never have lost her job. But three people should immediately be fired for treating her so shabbily before they even checked the facts for themselves.
They are the following shameful trio:
1. Her USDA boss, Tom Vilsack
What kind of boss throws his staff and colleagues to the wolves at the first sign of trouble - and before acquainting himself of ALL the facts? A manager with any kind of leadership within him would be making sure he established BOTH sides of the issue first before pronouncing a sentence on anyone. Where is innocent until proven guilty in his book? What a shoddy precedence for other members of his team! He had promptly said that he would not tolerate any kind of racism when he heard of the tape. All fine and good, but he forgot to add one important proviso: "If she were found guilty". What is very disturbing about his actions is that he spent days ignoring what Ms Sherrod had to say in her defence, his trusted employee, and judged her guilty without much evidence by insisting on her immediate resignation.
Later on, he talked about a review because of "additional information" he received. A likely story. There was no additional information except the one he failed to see first time round! Now he is grovelling with an apology and statements of regret. That let's him off the hook in one respect, but, even more so, it has blown a gaping hole in his managerial skills which appear to be found wanting. And what does it say about his own racial motives if he can so readily believe anything about a trusted staff colleague who had given years of dedicated service in preference to questionable journalism?
Reason for sacking: Very poor judgment and disloyalty to his team member. Not a good example for underlings waiting to become managers themselves and horrendous for staff morale.
2. Ben Todd Jealous, President of NAACP
He needs to learn some leadership skills too and his organisation badly needs to come into the 21st century. Its true role is to be alert to racism, agreed, but not by alienating one side of society, or jumping to conclusions before testing the evidence, especially when it comes to such sensitive and damaging accusations. The way the NAACP has acted in this whole debacle, especially vilifying Sherrod when she actually gave the speech to their gathering, is downright disgraceful. Didn't they listen to her speech in the first place when they were seated in front of her? Weren't they really taking in what their invited guest had to say? If they had, and had even taken some of the lessons she imparted to heart, they wouldn't even have needed to see the tape or reacted in such a knee-jerk fashion. They would have been more professional.
Most important, what kind of public body, one charged with improving social relations, condemns before it checks? Is this the way it expects to react every time some smearing or other biased campaign happens? What kind of credibility does it have now in the face of this immature and unprofessional behaviour? It might have apologised to Sherrod soon afterwards, but an apology could have been avoided if there were due professional processes in place to deal with such accusations, not thinking on the hoof and acting shamefully to appear self-righteous.
Reason for sacking: Organisation in dire need of modernisation and true leadership. He is not fit to lead it. In fact, from the lessons in her speech, Sherrod would be the perfect one to take over his job or Vilsack's!
3. Andrew Breitbart
We all know that the media manipulate and magnify to suit their ends in the cause of competition and bottom line profits. But this was one manipulation too far. Worse still, this was not credible journalism in any sense of the word but a spoilt, immature and juvenile attempt to get back at the NAACP by using an innocent woman. His head should roll because that action brought genuine investigative journalism into disrepute. In these days of conflicting interests among politicians and other powerful stakeholders, we need a good, fearless media that will root out injustices and stand up for the common man. When the media itself uses members of the public to fight their battles it raises far more disturbing questions than it answers. As Sherrod said, Breibart did not care whom he destroyed and that's about it. He had the power to manipulate the information and he did, with devastating consequences for that woman.
Regardless of how bad Fox News is supposed to be, condoning the actions of someone like Breitbart really does it no favours, and only further erodes the mistrust already existing between the public and the media. How can the audience believe anything more by this blogger, or Fox News itself, after this shameful episode which does not leave them smelling of roses.
Reason for sacking: Bringing the media profession into the gutter.
Time to roll some heads. Let the know what it feels like to lose their jobs for little reason!
Shirley Sherrod lost her job without even her voice being heard, but the sheer injustice of that resignation is ringing out loud and clear. In fact, she was actually ordered to resign by Cheryl Cook, the USDA Deputy, while she was driving and had to pull over on the side of the road to send an email signing away her job. How frightening and disgusting. The White House administration seems to be operating in dire fear of the Right Wing instead of standing up to them but when we fear evil it tends to engulf us.
In fact, it could be a turning point for both the media and the White House. As this debacle won't be going away anytime soon, scapegoats will be needed to deflect attention from the public outcry and to show that 'justice' is being done in her favour, in a bid to rein in the horse after the stable doors have opened! All three guilty parties know they have messed up big-time. Watch the pantomime begins as everyone involved tries to find urgent get out passes!