After months of speculation, Shirley Sherrod has finally filed suit against conservative media pundit Andrew Breitbart. Sherrod was infamously forced out from her Agriculture Department job last year after Brietbart posted a selectively edited video of her online suggesting she had admitted to discriminating against a farmer because he was white. The NAACP later released the entire video, which made it clear that Sherrod was talking about overcoming her own racial biases.
Brietbart was served with the lawsuit on Saturday while attending the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, DC. A press release on his website Big Government doesn’t mention Sherrod by name or refer directly to the edited video. Instead, it targets Sherrod and her husband for their involvement in the first Pigford settlement for black farmers who had been discriminated against by the USDA. Talking Points Memo notes that Brietbart calls Sherrod "a central figure in the Pigford ‘back-door’ reparations case."
"It is no coincidence that this lawsuit was filed one day after I held a press conference revealing audio proof of orchestrated and systemic Pigford fraud. I can promise you this: neither I, nor my journalistic websites, will or can be silenced by the institutional Left, which is obviously funding this lawsuit. I welcome the judicial discovery process, including finding out which groups are doing so."
Talking Points Memo points out that it’s a change in tune from Brietbart’s original claim that the video had nothing to do with a second Pigford settlement, which was up for vote in the Senate last July. The Senate finally approved a $4.5 billion payout to last November.
Colorlines.com publisher Rinku Sen remarked the that controversy highlighted our nation’s need to have candid discussions about race.
Progressives’ over-reliance on the "same boat" argument doesn’t help keep multiracial alliances together. Rather, it stumps us when we need to explain exactly how racism works, not just in the economy, but also in education, prison, health and, yes, agriculture. Liberal silence on race is what allows Breitbart to distort the definition of racism, to strip it of all discussions of power, history, policy or collective responsibility such that the notion of reverse racism has enough merit to be taken seriously in the first place.
And Kai Wright noted that if the country were truly interested in having a meaningful discussion about race, we could have focused on a lot more than Brietbart’s right wing propoganda.