July 30, 2010

When Glenn Beck speaks, a little more truth dies. In usual right-wing echo chamber fashion, they just can't let go of Shirley Sherrod. They're milking her story so dry the cows are screaming.

The latest accusations, which I have seen repeated verbatim on the Illinois Review and the Washington Examiner so far, and which appear to be from a press release sent out for posting across all conservative blogs in an effort to game the Google, are nearly unintelligible. But I'll try. (h/t BillieGirlToo)

Oh noes! Shirley Sherrod's group, New Communities, was involved in the Pigford lawsuit against the USDA

Oh, seriously. They were, that's true. And who better to hire to actually make reparations than the person who actually understood the damages?

From the press release:

... Over the years, USDA refused to provide loans for farming or irrigation and would not allow New Communities to restructure its loans. Gradually, the group had to fight just to hold on to the land and finally had to wind down operations.

... The cash (settlement) award acknowledges racial discrimination on the part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the years 1981-85. ... New Communities is due to receive approximately $13 million ($8,247,560 for loss of land and $4,241,602 for loss of income; plus $150,000 each to Shirley and Charles for pain and suffering). There may also be an unspecified amount in forgiveness of debt. This is the largest award so far in the minority farmers law suit (Pigford vs Vilsack).

This particular round of crazy asks a series of questions that are irrelevant, not particularly interesting, and attempt to suggest that hiring her was the USDA's effort to "shut her up", and she was summarily fired so as to cover up the dastardly news that she was involved in the Pigford suit.

This question really takes the cake, though:

Given that New Communities wound down its operations so long ago (it appears that this occurred sometime during the late 1980s), what is really being done with that $13 million in settlement money?

Oh wow, wingnuts! She must have STOLEN IT. RIGHT?

The release then goes on to suggest that the USDA might be worried about possible waste, fraud and abuse (you know, that bill the Republicans all voted AGAINST?).

Step back, think. If a court-ordered settlement is to be made from the government to people who were wronged, how is that waste, fraud or abuse? It's only in the minds of the crazy folks like Breitbart, who is desperately trying to intimidate Sherrod out of suing him, as far as I can tell.

Meanwhile, over at the Illinois Review...

Writer Teri O'Brien manages to conflate the New Black Panthers, William Ayers, AND the Pigford case, citing the strength of character and discernment in Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.

Somewhat breathlessly, Ms. O'Brien heaves forth the knowledge that Sherrod's husband...

...was a former honcho in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee back in the 1960’s. You can read more about it in Bill Ayers book “Fugitive Days.” Yes, that Bill Ayers. He was involved in SNCC as well.

Now see? That's how you take an apple and an orange and make it into a prune. You find out about a group, link up 'scary guy' Bill Ayers without any corresponding direct link between the two or between the SNCC and the Weather Underground and all of a sudden it's a story! Who needs journalists when we've got Breitbart and his merry minions to keep us stupid?

Media Matters has a thorough debunking of this story and all of the companion versions here.

Here's a newsflash for conservatives: Shirley Sherrod is not going to be your tea party wedge issue for August. You don't have health care reform to kick around anymore and your conduct in Congress should earn you a one-way ticket home. It might be time to quit milking dead stories and get on with life on the Planet Earth. Planet Teabag can't be reached by normal humans yet.

For a palate cleanser after this tripe, I highly recommend Joan Walsh's essay on the Shame of Right Wing Journalism, and especially, this brilliant essay from her about the wrong lessons of the Sherrod story.


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