The quotes that former USDA worker Shirley Sherrod gave on the edited tapes disseminated by Andrew Breitbart are indeed indefensible, but is it not fair to provide some kind of context? To wit:

Sherrod said the short video clip excluded the breadth of the story about how she eventually worked with the man over a two-year period to help ward off foreclosure of his farm, and how she eventually became friends with him and his wife.

"And I went on to work with many more white farmers," she said. "The story helped me realize that race is not the issue, it's about the people who have and the people who don't. When I speak to groups, I try to speak about getting beyond the issue of race."


ROBERTS: Miss Sherrod, let’s make it clear though, that this happened 24 years ago. You eventually worked with this white farmer. You eventually became friends, you say, with the farmer and his wife.


ROBERTS: So, the question I have is, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture came to you and said you have to step down, why didn’t you just say, wait a minute, you don’t know the full story. Here’s the full story, why should I step down?

SHERROD: I did say that, but they, for some reason, the stuff that Fox and the Tea Party does is scaring the administration. I told them get the whole tape and look at the whole tape and look at how I tell people we have to get beyond race and start working together.

ROBERTS: Many people at home might be thinking if you’re recounting an old story, why did you succumb to pressure to step down, why didn’t you fight this?

SHERROD: If I tried to fight it and didn’t have any support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, what would I do?

This reminds me of the Octavia Nasr case. The virulence of the far right and the cowardice of the elites is creating a chilled atmosphere.