Keith Richburg has a front page report Not Relevant? Sharpton Scoffs at the Idea in yesterday's Washington Post. Clearly the reporter scoffs too. There's a sub-head line
"Activist's Busy Calendar and Ringing Phone Speak to His Role in Civil Rights" which would have been more correct if it read "... His Role in Self-Promotion." The article is a highly selective view of Sharpton's career until now.
Richburg, of course, is scrupulous enough to mention that unpleasantness that plagued him early in his career.
In New York, his home base, Sharpton remains a polarizing figure for many, best remembered for championing the cause of Tawana Brawley, a black teenager who said she was abducted and raped by six white law enforcement officials but whose claims were later discredited.
That's the sanitized Cliff Notes version of the incident. Sharpton made his name in the case. He accused the prosecutor in the area, Stephen Pagones, of raping Brawley and defiantly challenged Pagones to sue him if he was wrong. When Pagones did sue for defamation and won Sharpton refused to pay, or even apologize.
And the article doesn't mention that Sharpton inserted himself into the 1991 Crown Heights riots on the side of rioters. He didn't call for calm. He didn't call for understanding. Rather he used Gavin Cato's funeral as an opportunity to rail against the Jewish diamond merchants and falsely accuse Hatzaloh of being an "apartheid ambulance service." (Hatzaloh personnel were directed away from the injured children by police who feared for their safety.)
Richburg uncritically echoes Sharpton's case for relevance:
As evidence of his continued relevance on the political scene, Sharpton pointed to the presidential candidates chasing his endorsement. He planned to fly to South Carolina earlier this month to meet former president Bill Clinton until his flight was canceled. Last month, he shared a meal of chicken wings, cornbread and coconut shrimp with Obama at Sylvia's, a Harlem soul food restaurant.
"On the one level, they say we don't matter. On the other level, they want to know who we're endorsing," Sharpton said, smiling at his own position.
Sharpton said he is going to decide among Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York, Obama and former senator John Edwards of North Carolina. And like much of the black community, he is torn about which way to go.
"I really haven't decided," he said. He said he is most concerned about finding the candidate who will pursue his racial justice agenda.
It's hard to see exactly how Sharpton's endorsement would help anyone. Look at the primary results for 2004. Except for D.C. and South Carolina Sharpton didn't reach 10% of the vote. Even in NY which is his supposed base he only got 8% of the vote. His delegate total was 27, just 4 more than Dennis Kucinich. And we won't be seeing articles in the paper promoting Kucininch's relevance. It's only because he's a self-proclaimed civil rights leader that anyone pays attention to him.
Sharpton gets media attention because editors have not forced their lazy reporters to update their Rolodexs.
Exactly. And politicians seek his endorsement because they're really bad at math. Since it's not about the math, Sweetness & Light is correct to observe
And what an appalling indictment of the Democrat candidates, that they are all seeking this racist thug’s endorsement.
Maybe you could understand it if Sharpton had some grass roots support that he could lend a candidate. Sure it would be cynical, but at least there'd be a purpose in sucking up to him. But all his support comes from the chattering classes. So there's no excuse for supporting him.
Richburg quotes an admirer:
"He seems to have evolved into a new respectability, at least in the city," said Norman Siegel, a lawyer and former director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, who has known Sharpton for 20 years. Regarding the King celebrations, Siegel said, "Every single elected official, no matter what they said about him in the past, they'll show up."
"[N]ew respectability?" Where have I heard that before?
The primary battle silenced many detractors, whites and Republicans among them, who found "the Rev" more dignified -- that was the word they used -- than the seasoned politicians he faced. As Robert Abrams, the Attorney General, Geraldine A. Ferraro, the one-time Vice Presidential candidate and Elizabeth Holtzman, the City Comptroller, traded barbs, Sharpton followed the Rev. Jesse Jackson's advice to "fly above the storm."
Everyone took note. Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, after one particularly vicious debate, singled out Sharpton by favorable contrast, "Because he was positive, because he was mature." The other three candidates, the Governor concluded, "all got hurt" in their debate. Reflecting on that change, Representative Maxine Waters of California, who herself successfully balances activism and mainstream politics, says she, too, was surprised by his transformation. "He obviously made a decision to show how smart he really is."
Less than two years later, Sharpton got involved in a tenant/landlord dispute and led protests against a "Jewish interloper." Kathryn Jean Lopez quotes Fred Siegel's account of what happened.
Sharpton and his National Action Network turned a dispute between a Jewish tenant who rented the space for his store (Freddy's) from a black church and his black subtenant into a racial hailstorm. Sharpton set up pickets outside the store, led by his lieutenant in the National Action Network, Morris Powell.
Powell was an intimidating figure to many on 125th Street. An escaped mental patient who had thrice been accused of attempted murder, he had long threatened that "there will be war" against white merchants and "this street will burn." His protesters, sometimes joined by Sharpton, shouted racial epithets like "Jew bastards" and "the bloodsucking Jews," while referring to other whites as "crackers" and black customers as "traitors."
One of the protesters, a man who called himself "Shabazz," forced his way into the store shouting, "I will be back to burn the Jew store down." He didn't, but a man named Abubunde Mulocko did.
Apparently angered by the mistaken assumption that the store had hired Hispanics instead of blacks, Mulocko, a man with a long criminal record, his "paranoia goosed by the protests," burned the store down.
Armed with a .38, he shot three whites and a Pakistani in cold blood (he had mistaken the light-skinned Pakistani for a Jew) and then set the fire that killed five Hispanics, one Guyanese and one black, the security guard who the protesters had taunted as a "cracker lover."
Those are the wages of coddling a hate-monger like Sharpton.
Michelle Malkin explains why there's a need to continue exposing Sharpton:
Some readers wonder why I continue to write about the Sharpton-MSM lovefest. Why? Because the enablers deserve to be held responsible and shamed publicly until they stop.
If you hold up the mirror long enough, one of these fools is bound to glance over and see what slavish, race-hustling tools they all appear to be. And are.
Freddy's happened another time after Sharpton had been declared "respectable." So whenever someone in the media praises Sharpton for his activism they will now mention him in conjunction with the Jena 6. But the number they should remember is the Freddy's 7. That defined who Sharpton is.
Crossposted on Yourish.Posted by SoccerDad at December 27, 2007 9:19 AM