On Lacking All Conviction, Cont.

One way of looking at Shirley Sherrod's firing is to classify it with all the other rhetorical fights we've had over the past few years that are more about offense, than practical issues. I think that's wrong, and it misses precisely why it's important to take a stand.

Shirley Sherrod brought to the Obama administration a deep understanding of the very issues that the USDA has grappled with for years--discrimination among them. She knew the lay of the South, and had been grappling with the problems of agriculture, literally, all her life. It was in her blood. Firing her robs the administration of a great resource, but more importantly it robs the people who she was appointed to serve.

Thus the Obama's administration strategy here is not simply a reatreat in the face of racist inversion (as bad as that is), it's a retreat from defending the livelihood of Americans in need. Many of those people, possibly most of those people, are not black. Racist inversion, like the racism it springs from, is a cluster-bomb. Being white gets you a running start, but it does not get you in the clear.

Presented by

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in National

From This Author

Just In