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Aquinas on the Shirley Sherrod Saga: Truth is the Conformity of the Mind With What Is

Posted on July 22 2010 3:00 pm

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Following Andrew Breitbart’s publishing of Shirley Sherrod’s now famous speech at the NAACP, Sean Hannity hosted the Big Government founder.

Breitbart:  And what this video shows and what the NAACP affirms in their initial rebuke is not just that Shirley Sherrod, what she said was wrong, but that the audience was laughing and applauding as she described how she maltreated the white farmer.

Hannity: Before she gets to the end of the story which is — which she’s claiming puts context. But there’s a —

Breitbart:  Did the people in the audience know that there was going to be a point of redemption?

Hannity: No.

Breitbart: The point is that the NAACP at a dinner honoring this person is cheering on a person describing — describing a white person as the other.

The NAACP released the tape of the entire talk given by Mrs. Sherrod – leaving us with some profound “take home” lessons.

In the moments directly preceding the portion of her talk originally released by Mr. Breitbart, she tells of the murder of her own father by a white man.  Ms. Sherrod doubted her own father would receive justice, so she resolved, that very night, not to avenge his death, but to remain in her home town to make a difference, to work for justice.

“When you are true to what God wants you to do, the way opens up and things just come to you.  When I made that commitment, I was making it to black people, and to black people only.  But you know, God will show you things and will put things in your path so you realize that the struggle is really about poor people.”

At this point, the audience nods in approval and one even calls out, “Alright, alright.”  The atmosphere in the room is one of absolute agreement.  Then Ms. Sherrod tells the story of her initial reluctance to help the white man, admitting that she thought of him as “the other.”  She clearly set the story up as the incident that changed her ideas about relations between black and white people.

After explaining that the white lawyer she assumed would help “his own kind,” did nothing for the white man she didn’t want to help, she said she realized we are all “in the same boat,” that her work needed to be for all the poor, not only black people.

She continued:

“It’s about those who have and those who don’t.  They could be Black, they could be White, they could be Hispanic.  In the sixteenth and seventeenth century there were black and white indentured servants.  They didn’t care about each others’ skin color.”

Sherrod told the audience that the rich created division between the white and black servants to keep them from uniting for justice.  Conflict between races is, for Sherrod, a construct she opposes, not one she encourages.

“Here we are four centuries later…we have to get this out of our heads.  There is no difference between us. It’s a shame we don’t have a room full of white and black people here today.”

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