Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shirley Sherrod Is Not The Only One Who Has Been "Put Through Hell"

The Obama administration has offered to rehire Shirley Sherrod, the black U.S. Department of Agriculture employee in Georgia whose abrupt dismissal sparked a political firestorm over race.

In making the offer, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack acknowledged that Sherrod has been "put through hell." Sherrod has indicated that she is inclined to turn down the offer of an outreach job.

A former U.S. Department of Justice whistleblower in Alabama, who has been without a job for more than a year, says the Sherrod story presents evidence of an ugly double standard from the White House.

Tamarah Grimes, in essence, is saying, "Hey, Shirley Sherrod is not the only one who has been put through hell. What about the rest of us?" We think Grimes has a good point.

Grimes was fired in June 2009 from her job as a paralegal in the Middle District of Alabama, eight days after writing a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder outlining misconduct in the prosecution of former Governor Don Siegelman. Grimes remains without a job and says she has faced significant financial and emotional stress.

In other words, she's been "put through hell"--as have Siegelman, Paul Minor, and other victims of Bush-era political prosecutions. But have they received the kind of helping hand that was extended to Sherrod? No, they have not.

In a statement to Legal Schnauzer, Grimes says:

I find the hypocrisy of the White House in its apology to an ousted USDA worker--and immediate "unique" offer of employment--appalling. What about the injustices perpetrated upon defendants and whistleblowers?

AG Secretary Tom Vilsack is quoted as saying, "She's been put through hell and I could have done, and should have done, a better job." White House spokesman Robert Gibbs described the situation as an "injustice" and apologized on behalf of the entire Obama Administration.

In the Department of Justice, meanwhile, the silence is deafening. The injustices perpetrated by the U.S. Department of Justice continue. While Bush-era political appointee Leura Canary continues to accrue time in federal service toward full federal retirement benefits, political prisoners continue to suffer.

Grimes is quick to say that Vilsack deserves praise for trying to correct a wrong that was heaped upon Sherrod. But she says others in the administration are willing to ignore serious, justice-related wrongs:

Shame on the Obama Administration and Attorney General Eric Holder, for these injustices could not continue on their watch without their support. AG Secretary Vilsack did the right thing by his admission that an injustice had occurred, one in which he could have, and should have, done a better job.

Tamarah Grimes has an important message for the Obama administration. It did, to its credit, try to get things right in the Shirley Sherrod matter. But its double standard on matters of "injustice" is glaring:

Note to the White House: Many have been "put through hell" by selective and political prosecutions. Many have suffered, and continue to suffer, without a voice, a fair trial, or any due process at all. When is something going to be done for these victims? Where are the apologies to these victims who have been put through hell for a lot longer than two days?


Robby Scott Hill said...

Even when loyal Bushies like Michael Brown of FEMA infamy are forced to resign, they are awarded lucrative government contracts. Wait and see how many of the people who were forced to resign from MMS land government contracts.

Kevin said...

The whole system needs a good flush from the crony days of Bush...

Robby Scott Hill said...

The Shirley Sherrod affair lays bare a serious problem in America. Whenever you see a Black or White Southerner summarily dismissed from his or her job for alleged racism, it is nearly always an affluent Yankee who is pointing the finger and most of the time that affluent Yankee hails from someplace like Iowa, Idaho or Vermont where few if any Black people live. Yet, somehow these affluent Northern Whites who didn't grow up with Working Class Blacks or Whites have suddenly become experts on race relations in The South.