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Shirley Sherrod: casualty of escalating 'tea party'-NAACP race spat?

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The feud began in earnest last week when the NAACP accused the "tea party" of harboring racists within the movement. Shortly afterward, Mark Williams, the leader of a tea party group called the Tea Party Express, wrote a mock letter from NAACP head Ben Jealous to Abraham Lincoln that stated, in part, "Freedom means having to work for real, think for ourselves, and take consequences along with the rewards. That is just far too much to ask of us Colored People and we demand that it stop!"

The National Tea Party Federation banned Mr. Williams and his group because of the letter.

Now the Sherrod video is emerging as a counterpoint to the Williams letter. Some conservatives say the video proves lingering suspicions about the Obama administration: that it has been far more responsive to complaints by minorities – especially blacks – than those by whites.

White farmer defends Sherrod

The charge against Sherrod, however, has been rebuffed by the white farmer at the center of the controversy, Roger Spooner. Speaking on CNN, he said Sherrod "did her level best" to help him and credited her with saving his farm. Asked if Sherrod was a racist, he said: "Heck, no."

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