Ethics Hero: Shirley Sherrod, Striking a Blow for Accountability

The Department of Agriculture, in a desperate effort at damage control (and to make amends for its unprofessional and unfair treatment of her), offered Shirley Sherrod another job. She has turned it down, saying, “I know [DOA Secretary Tom Vilsack] apologized, and I accept that. And a new process is in place, and I hope that it works. I don’t want to be the one that tests it.”

Excellent.  Brava!There is no reason for Sherrod to trust her former employers or the Obama Administration,which proved that it was willing to fire an employee based on nothing but a YouTube video, the fear of right wing backlash and political controversy, and a potential “gotcha!” as the Administration and its allies were in the process of casting  the Tea Party movement as accommodating to racists. Sherrod had no more reason to go back to work for Vilsack than she had to work for Andrew Brietbart, who planted the seeds of her dismissal, of the N.A.A.C.P., which condemned her even after it knew the context of her remarks.

Had she returned, she would have assisted the Obama Administration as framing the disgraceful incident as solely the fault of conservative activists, and Fox News, when, of course, they weren’t the ones who fired her without checking the facts, as the government’s own laws obligate it to do. She accepted Vilsack’s and the President’s apologies without allowing them to duck accountability for their nakedly political, ruthless and cowardly treatment of a loyal government worker.

Thank-you, Ms. Sherrod.

I think they got the message they deserved.

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