The Anchoress and the Shirley Sherrod story

Was Elizabeth Scalia — known to all as The Anchoress — the first writer to question the Shirley Sherrod story? Richard Hyfler of Forbes says yes, and adds that she’s the only one who emerged from the imbroglio looking good.

When Andrew Breitbart released his heavily edited video — and most of us assumed it was a case-closer — Elizabeth had questions:

Doesn’t it seem like, after all of that sort of winkin, “you and I know how they really are” racist crap wherein Sherrod — intentionally or not — indicts her own narrow focus, she was heading to a more edifying message? What did it open her eyes about?

….I want to know. Because it seemed like Sherrod was heading somewhere with that story, and the edit does not let us get there. I want the rest of the story before I start passing judgment on it.

As Hyfler notes, Elizabeth seems to have been the only one who displayed the true instincts of a journalist — ask questions and check facts before coming to any conclusions.

What’s striking is that everyone else — reporters and editors at the networks disseminating the story, officials at the Department of Agriculture pressuring Sherrod to resign, executives at the NAACP accusing Sherrod of racism and abuse of power — seems to have forgotten how we listen to the stories that people tell. And having forgotten how to listen, we then forgot how to read.

When someone in the middle of a long, meandering story says, “it opened my eyes,” it’s only natural to ask the question Scalia asked: “What did it open her eyes about?”

Elizabeth is both shy and extremely modest — “The Anchoress” is a fine moniker — but she deserves recognition for this. 

Kudos Lizzie!

Brian Saint-Paul


Brian Saint-Paul was the editor and publisher of Crisis Magazine. He has a BA in Philosophy and an MA in Religious Studies from the Catholic University of America, in Washington. D.C. In addition to various positions in journalism and publishing, he has served as the associate director of a health research institute, a missionary, and a private school teacher. He lives with his wife in a historic Baltimore neighborhood, where he obsesses over Late Antiquity.

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