Sherrod's story

July 21, 2010 1:45:09 PM PDT
Shame on everyone.

That could very well be the take away message from the Shirley Sherrod affair - the U.S.D.A. official who was forced to resign after a snippet of a speech went viral on the Internet and seemed to show her as a reverse racist. That sound bite was seized upon, politically, by a conservative blogger and Fox News as evidence that Ms. Sherrod was a racist.

In truth, Ms. Sherrod was recounting an epiphany - when she realized, back in 1986, that how she was treating a white farmer was exactly how whites had treated blacks. And what was in her speech but not in the sound bite snippet was her realization that race shouldn't be and wasn't the issue - but class and money were.

Now that the truth has emerged - that Sherrod is anything but a racist - they can't line up fast enough to apologize to her. The Secretary of Agriculture, according to Sherrod, has late this afternoon offered her the job back. Will she accept it? She's says she's considering it.

The "teaching moment" Ms. Sherrod was hoping to convey in her speech to the NAACP in Georgia last March, might very well be happening now. But the focus isn't what she thought it would be. Instead, it's about not jumping to conclusions, and listening to all the evidence, and not take at face value two minutes of a 45-minute speech and then fire a person.

Having an African-American President was supposed to open the discussion about race in his country. But when a question about race, and race relations, was raised, the Administration seemed to overreact - and run away from the issue. It seemed more fearful of commentary by certain conservatives critics than it was eager to embrace an honest discussion of Sherrod's message.

The White House this afternoon apologized to Ms. Sherrod. The NAACP has apologized. What happens next, in this real "teaching moment" will be telling. We'll have the latest, tonight at 11.

We've seen what ignorance of the facts did in the Sherrod case. What facts don't we know about the Dean Gaymon killing in a park in Newark by an undercover police detective?

The family of the Atlanta banking CEO insists that Gaymon would not have threatened the detective, that he wasn't a violent man. Cops insist that Gaymon was masturbating at a park known as a gay sex pick-up area, when the undercover cop approached him and, according to the officer, was propositioned. Cops say Gaymon panicked, tried to run, then tussled with the officer, then threatened him, and then was shot, and killed.

Is the family hiding its head in the sand about their father's/husband's personal life? Are cops telling us the entire truth? The family is now calling on the FBI to take over the case.

Today, police swarmed the park - including scuba divers in a pond - looking for evidence. What were they looking for? They're not saying. Some 200 men have been arrested in this park in the past year and a half, as cops cracked down on sexual activity and cruising in the park. But clearly no one has been killed until now. We'll have any new developments, tonight at 11.

Speaking of Newark, Mayor Cory Booker today announcing what could be a doomsday scenario for City workers ? saying he might institute a four-day work week and fire as many as 350 police and firefighters. The cuts may begin Sept. 27, said Booker, as the city tries to close a $150 million budget gap.

That recession that many had hoped was officially over, may not be. In fact, today the chairman of the Federal Reserve told Congress that the nation's economic outlook is "unusually uncertain" and that job growth will be "somewhat slower" than the central bank had previously believed.

Oy.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast - including the severe thunderstorms that moved in - and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Sade Baderinwa (in for Liz Cho) and me, tonight at 11.

BILL RITTER

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