District of Corruption

The Myth of the Myth of Shirley Sherrod

Not long after the Shirley Sherrod controversy broke on BigGovernment.com, the liberals began constructing a counter myth that Sherrod was telling a story about how she learned that helping people through the federal government isn't about black and white but rich and poor. The evil conservatives only let you see the first half of the story, and left out the timeless lesson part. Breitbart & Co. were playing on whites' irrational fears again in order to help the GOP. etc. etc.

After watching more of Sherrod's speech, a few things became clear: 1) the NAACP crowd really loved the idea of sticking it to Whitey; helping out Poor Whitey, not so much; 2) Sherrod actually did refer the hard-on-his-luck farmer to people of "his own kind" to get help; 3) Even though Sherrod claims she believes that class trumps race, she still can't bring herself to say "it's not about race."

Sure, Breitbart is probably doing stuff like this, at least in part, to help the GOP, but Americans seeing images of who actually "governs" America is a very good thing.

In this line, Tom Blumer of the Washington Examineruncovered more about Sherrod, revealing that -- surprise, surprise! -- she has dedicated her life to getting blacks federal goodies and suing people on behalf of blacks, all the while gaining steady employment for herself as a black advocate. 

Ms. Sherrod's previous background, the circumstances surrounding her hiring, and the USDA's agenda may all play a part in explaining her sudden departure from the agency. These matters have not received much scrutiny to this point.

An announcement of Ms. Sherrod's July 2009 appointment to her USDA position at ruraldevelopment.org gives off quite a few clues:

RDLN Graduate and Board Vice Chair Shirley Sherrod was appointed Georgia Director for Rural Development by Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack on July 25. Only days earlier, she learned that New Communities, a group she founded with her husband and other families (see below) has won a thirteen million dollar settlement in the minority farmers law suit Pigford vs Vilsack.


The news that follows at the link, which appears to pre-date the announcement of Ms. Sherrod's appointment, provides further details:

Minority Farm Settlement

Justice Achieved - Congratulations to Shirley and Charles Sherrod!

We have wonderful news regarding the case of New Communities, Inc., the land trust that Shirley and Charles Sherrod established, with other black farm families in the 1960's. At the time, with holdings of almost 6,000 acres, this was the largest tract of black-owned land in the country.

... 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).

The Pigford matter goes back a long way, and to say the least has a checkered history, as this May 27, 2010 item at Agri-Pulse demonstrates (bolds are mine):

As part of a April 14, 1999 class action case settlement, commonly known as the Pigford case, U.S. taxpayers have already provided over $1 billion in cash, non-credit awards and debt relief to almost 16,000 black farmers who claimed that they were discriminated against by USDA officials as they “farmed or attempted to farm.” In addition, USDA’s Farm Service Agency spent over $166 million on salaries and expenses on this case from 1999-2009, according to agency records.

Members of Congress may approve another $1.15 billion this week to settle cases from what some estimate may be an additional 80,000 African-Americans who have also claimed to have been discriminated against by USDA staff.

... Settling this case is clearly a priority for the White House and USDA. Secretary Vilsack described the funding agreement reached between the Administration and advocates for black farmers early this year as “an important milestone in putting these discriminatory claims behind us for good and in achieving finality for this group of farmers with longstanding grievances."

However, confronted with the skyrocketing federal deficit, more officials are taking a critical look at the billion dollars spent thus far and wondering when these discrimination cases will ever end. Already, the number of people who have been paid and are still seeking payment will likely exceed the 26,785 black farmers who were considered to even be operating back in 1997, according to USDA. That’s the year the case initially began as Pigford v. (then Agriculture Secretary) Glickman and sources predicted that, at most, 3,000 might qualify.

At least one source who is extremely familiar with the issue and who asked to remain anonymous because of potential retribution, says there are a number of legitimate cases who have long been denied their payments and will benefit from the additional funding. But many more appear to have been solicited in an attempt to “game” the Pigford system.

What never ceases to amaze me is just how much money hokey left-wing morons are in charge of in the federal bureaucracies. Sherrod has, no doubt, been in the position to deal out billions of other people's money over the course of her career. The fact that the Shirely Sherrods of the world haven't completely destroyed the country is a testament to the inefficiency of bureaucracies and their own incompetence.