Sometimes, if the facts are clear, if the people band together an yell loud enough, sometimes, just sometimes, you can get the powers that be to reconsider an unjust act. Not overturn, yet, but reconsider. Ain’t America grand?
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said early Wednesday that his department will reconsider the ouster of an employee who resigned over alleged race comments.
His statement came after civil rights leaders said they were “snookered” into believing a conservative website’s charges of racism against employee Shirley Sherrod were true.
Vilsack said that he will “conduct a thorough review and consider additional facts” about his decision to ask Sherrod to resign.
Let me conduct your thorough review, Secretary Vilsack. Watch this tape. Or read the transcript. Or, if you want to throw in “additional facts,” this woman’s history. I think you could wrap up the review in about 45 minutes.
The country is embarrassed by this incident. Whether it proves that Americans are, as Eric Holder said, a nation of cowards when it comes to race, or whether it just proves the existence of an executive branch full of cowards, permanently ensconced in a defensive crouch, the implications are similarly dire for American political discourse. News cycles can be measured in half-seconds and volume these days, and the winning of mornings matters more than any effort to ameliorate conditions in the midst of an historically awful recession. What hurts is how good people get caught in the crossfire. Shirley Sherrod didn’t ask for attention. She committed the crime of telling a personal anecdote, one that was honest about her evolution to a fighter for justice and not race. Clearly that makes her unfit to work in the civil service.
This all feels very decadent to me. We have bigger challenges than at any time since the 1930s, and we’re spending time interpreting two-decade parables from an NAACP banquet. The biggest times of media bread and circus over the past couple decades have been now, and during the Clinton Administration. Whatever do those two eras share in common?
All hail the stupid.