Shirley Sherrod and the Race Grievance Industry

Shirley Sherrod, litigant and co-mastermind of the Pigford settlement, which bestowed large checks on 86,000 of the country's 40,000 black farmers, ironically may help usher in a long-overdue post-racial era in America. Publicity, once the ally of the racial grievance industry, is now the enemy of deals done in quiet.

After Dan Riehl linked to a law firm that specializes in filing complaints in the Pigford settlement for a 33.5% contingency fee -- Pogust, Braslow & Millrood, LLC, in Conshohoken, Pennsylvania -- their site at seems to have gone offline. Riehl notes this language from the law firm's 2008 press release: 

Last summer, Senator Barack Obama (IL) introduced legislation to allow these individuals the opportunity to prove their claims of racial discrimination on the merits. Senator Obama's legislation ultimately became part of the Food and Energy Security Act of 2007, passed by Congress on May 22, 2008.

Another site that Riehl linked on the Pigford case was still up. He said this about the comments there.

Kind of, like -- hey, I had an uncle who farmed, I think, back in the day. Or, maybe it was a second cousin. Can I get in on some of this fast cash, too? Sure, just kickback 33.5% to the lawyers, maybe we can get you signed up. I smell major scam.

My comment is more pointed than Riehl's. Since the 1960s, I have heard endless acclamations of black pride that, in terms of policy, progressively became little more than groveling for government handouts. The last American who personally experienced slavery died in 1948, five years before I was born. 1948 also happened to be the year the Democratic Party, traditional political home of Southern segregationists, adopted a specific four-point political platform dedicated to Civil Rights. 

Racial discrimination has been considered a legal abomination by both political parties since then. Outside of a few lunatic fringe groups, it has been considered a social faux pas since the early 1960s. Indeed, the number of people who actually lived in a legally segregated society is rapidly diminishing. With Obama in the White House, a black man recently beating Strom Thurmond's son like a drum in a South Carolina Republican primary, and the last Democrat practitioners of de jure segregation -- such as Robert "Sheets" Byrd --  rapidly assuming room temperature, as a practical matter, the segregationist race card is now dead as a political weapon. Americans have absorbed the lesson that we judge people on the soundness of their ideas and the content of their character rather than the color of their skin. 

With the passing of the last of those who once saw race as definitive, we want the bill for the racial sins of the past to be finally be stamped paid in full! Our patience with the political class's subjective definition of racism as anything that offends a person of color is virtually nonexistent. Attempts to lay a guilt trip on us as have been made in the past, and now they are going to end only in pushback against those who have done very well for themselves by claiming racial injury.   

It would indeed be time to be bored with race except for one thing. Racial preferences enacted in past decades continue to cost us a fortune we no longer can afford to spend. No matter how boring the topic has become on an intellectual level, race-mongering continues to cost us a lot of money. Political interest groups such as the NAACP have a vested interest in keeping the idea of racial injustice alive. They do so by falsely equating unequal outcomes as the result of luck, talent, and temperament, with unequal treatment as a matter of law. Agencies at all levels of government, college admission officers, and a small army of private-sector diversity training consultants and Human Resource administrators also have a vested interest in the idea of racial injustice.  

The real estate bubble happened in part because lenders were told they had to extend credit to people who weren't creditworthy, and on properties in substandard neighborhoods lest they be seen as discriminating on the basis of race. The recent so-called financial reform bill contains similar racial and gender preferences that will distort the credit market.  

As long as there is a buck to be made by someone who cites racial discrimination, whether in personal or historic terms, the topic will remain part of the national political conversation.  The difference is that from now on, anyone who cites past discrimination in expectation of a handout is increasingly going to be told, Life sucks for all of us. Stop whining about race and do something useful for a change.