Al Sharpton shakes his fist at a rally for Michael Brown, August 17, 2014
The Main Stream Media and Eric Holder’s Department of Justice’s continuous jihad against Ferguson MO just achieved its inevitable result: two police officers were shot in the unrest following the resignation of the Chief of Police. It’s a reprise for one of the loudest voices in the months’-long hate campaign—the Reverend Al Sharpton, subject of Carl F. Horowitz’s new, exhaustively researched biography Sharpton: A Demagogue’s Rise..
Horowitz, as the director of the National Legal and Policy Center’s Organized Labor Accountability Project, carefully describes an inflammatory figure who has nonetheless kept his place among America’s political and media elite. Sharpton has remained wondrously immune to the scandals that have surrounded him, whether encouraging black rioters to go after Hasidic Jews in Crown Heights, Brooklyn in 1991 (one death), inciting the burning of Freddie’s Fashion Mart (seven deaths), championing totally false stories about black supposed rape victim Tawana Brawley, or embezzling funds from the charities he claims to be supervising. He may have even surpassed his older collaborator in race hustling, Jesse Jackson. (Click here for Sharpton’s denunciation of VDARE.com Editor Peter Brimelow).
Time, New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and National Review, are only a few of the Establishment outlets that have praised Sharpton’s dedication to “equality” and his willingness to speak out against racism, homophobia etc. etc.
Horowitz quotes a feature article on Sharpton from Newsweek (August 10, 2010), which not only hails “The Reinvention of Reverend Al” [PDF] but reinvents its subject’s past. Authors Allison Samuels and Jerry Adler depict Sharpton in a heroic light when “he burst on to the national stage as the fiery advocate of Tawana Brawley, a New York teenager who claimed to have been raped by a gang of white men, including a policeman.” Of course, Ms. Brawley, was never raped and the whole story may well have been manufactured with the generous assistance of Rev Al.
But despite such embarrassing setbacks, Al Sharpton has been able to push himself to the top of a prospering victim-advocacy racket. Most recently, he has been a much-praised, frequent visitor of President Obama and remains an intimate of the Clinton family. On his recent sixtieth birthday Sharpton received the kind wishes (and munificent donations for his multiple slush organizations) of the CEOs of Walmart, Verizon and McDonald’s. And these are only a few of the corporation that are drowning Sharpton in funds—lest he denounce their managers or boards for practicing “discrimination.”
Horowitz cites so many examples of the rich and powerful kowtowing to Sharpton that by the time one finishes his work, one feels both disgust and exhaustion. Although I’ve written on political correctness for the last thirty years, even I was stunned by the gushing tributes to Sharpton cited by Horowitz. It is a devastating comment on how the country is drowning in racial guilt that bigoted black loudmouths like Sharpton can rise to the top, socially and economically, by exploiting white fear of being attacked as a “racist.”
There are three points in Horowitz’s biography that I read with special interest.
Sharpton, Horowitz says, gained attention because of “the incendiary manner in which he mates his racial identity and egalitarianism with the politics of confrontation.” And Sharpton knows that the culturally and socially radicalized media will never contradict him, no matter how blatantly he lies. When asked, for example, by NBC’s Tom Brokaw if he had been wrong in his accusation against Tawana Brawley’s alleged attackers Sharpton counterattacked and attributed racial bias to his “defamers.” Brokaw naturally backed away from the question.
Horowitz shows that the claim that Sharpton somehow “betrayed” King’s mission has been vastly exaggerated. King’s widow and son aided Sharpton’s ascent to media power and the younger King has often appeared with Sharpton at functions organized by the Reverend Al.
As Horowitz puts it, Sharpton “learned from King the importance of direct action as a tool for negotiations…and like King, Sharpton maximizes events for dramatic effect, always with news coverage in mind.”
But besides taking from King his “template for civil rights activism,” Sharpton also followed his mentor in being “a man of the Left.” Like King, who from his early student days advocated socialism and, Horowitz notes, “came to support what we now call affirmative action and reparations, advocating large compensatory payments from whites to blacks,” Sharpton has blended black advocacy causes with a full range of other Leftist positions.
Horowitz’s willingness to dismiss with the myth of the “good” Martin Luther King is probably why his book will never receive the approval of the Beltway Right.
Many “conservative” spokesmen buttered up Sharpton shamelessly, contributed money to his foundations and even helped him organize a presidential campaign in 2003. The list of Al’s onetime Republican friends includes Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, Newt Gingrich, and the Republican campaign organizer, Roger Stone. Needless to say, none of them would ever write for, or even publicly admit they read, VDARE.com—although its editors have not been responsible for any deaths.
Of course, the Rev’s reputation on the Right has suffered recently because of the events in Ferguson and the Trayvon Martin controversy. But the close relationship between Fox News conservatives and Al Sharpton continued long after he should have become radioactive for decent people.
For example, Bill O’Reilly criticized Al Sharpton because of the Rev’s activities during the Trayvon Martin controversy—but, as Sharpton himself pointed out, O’Reilly had donated money to Sharpton and even spoke to Sharpton’s National Action Network, hardly the kinds of things you do for someone you honestly think is a “racial huckster” [Al Sharpton Responds To Bill O'Reilly: 'Man Up', by Katharine Fung, Huffington Post, August 16, 2013]
Needless to say, O’Reilly and other “conservative” heroes were still cultivating Sharpton long after he had begun venting his hatred on whites and Jews and lying about supposed racist crimes.
Gingrich, Sharpton, and Obama—with White House assistant Valerie Jarrett
Symbolic of the Beltway Right’s close relationship with Sharpton: photographs of former House Speaker Gingrich and Sharpton smiling at each other after they had met with President Obama to discuss “educational reform” in 2009 [Gingrich has embraced Al Sharpton, by Jennifer Rubin, Washington Post, November 23, 2011]
And the collaboration between the two self-described disciples of Martin Luther King makes some sense. After all, Gingrich had been instrumental in getting a federal holiday for Sharpton’s mentor pushed through Congress in 1983. Gingrich, like Jack Kemp, also gave a speech supporting the King holiday.[ How Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday became a holiday, By NCC Staff, Yahoo News, January 21, 2013]
Presumably Gingrich’s most recent overtures to Sharpton were part of his recurrent attempt to woo black voters for “conservatism.” But this incriminating photo evidence has already been airbrushed out of Conservatism Inc.’s memory, just as the faces of Bukharin and Trotsky disappeared from the pictures of Soviet leaders circa 1930.
But unfortunately for the rest of us, Sharpton himself remains in the spotlight. And he looks set to remain part of the public debate for years to come.
Horowitz’s Sharpton is a necessary tool for patriots to understand the media’s favorite Civil Rights mascot—as well as the Beltway Right functionaries he shadowboxes with on TV.
Paul Gottfried [ email him ] is a retired Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College, PA. He is the author of After Liberalism, Multiculturalism and the Politics of Guilt and The Strange Death of Marxism His most recent book is Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America.