Shirley Sherrod and the Politics of Overreaction

In a climate of witch hunts over racism, there's no time for the whole story about what the USDA employee really meant.

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Sherrod's story about the white farmer took place more than two decades before she worked for USDA, and the entire point of the story was that race is not an issue. The story was about how she and the family became friends and how she eventually helped them save their farm.

In the wake of her resignation, the farmer's wife, Eloise Spooner, told CNN that Sherrod went all out to help them. "She's the one I can credit with helping us saving our farm," Spooner said, but 26 years later, conservative bloggers could rewrite that story to great effect.

Soon after Obama took office, Vilsack noted that some of the lingering problems had to do with USDA'S troubled history: "I think it is a reflection of the past and decisions that were made long ago, and we are still dealing with the consequences," he said.

Add Shirley Sherrod to the list of consequences. We're stuck in consequences.

Terence Samuel is The Root's editor-at-large. His first book, The Upper House: A Journey Behind the Closed Doors of the U.S. Senate, was released in May by Palgrave Macmillan. Follow him on Twitter.

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