In the tradition of Yasir Arafat, he speaks one way to his core followers on the street, and another to the public at large. If he is not yet a full-blown media darling, he is fast becoming one. Reporters get a kick out of him, finding him exciting, personable, and a joy to quote. As the liberal New York Post columnist Jack Newfield has pointed out, he is 'dangerous because he is so likable.' And only rarely is (he) held accountable for his offenses, both past and ongoing. The tendency to forget, or to brush aside, is close to overpowering.
No, the National Review's Jay Nordlinger is not writing about Barak Obama here, but about race hustler Al Sharpton, in an essay over seven years old. But it is as much a description of our credulous talking heads and newspapermen as of Sharpton.
How does Sharpton rate identification (only in the mass media) as a "civil rights leader" when he has made his living as a political shakedown artist?
His "Chappaquiddick," as columnist Nat Hentoff called it, was the Tawana Brawley hoax. After staying away from home for several days, young Tawana smeared herself with dog feces, wrote racial epithets on her body, climbed into a garbage bag, and waited to be discovered. Then she claimed she was abducted, raped and otherwise abused by six white men, including a police officer and an assistant district attorney, practicing Irish Republican Army rituals.
Sharpton became the family's press spokesman. Bill Cosby offered a large cash reward for information leading to arrests and convictions, but Sharpton told the family not to cooperate with New York Attorney General Robert Abrams. To cooperate with him, Sharpton said, would be "to sit down with Mr. Hitler."
One of Sharpton's assistants was quoted telling him "Robert Abrams, you are no longer going to masturbate looking at Tawana Brawley's picture."
It was a total, absolute hoax. Sharpton never apologized. Over a decade later, he said "If I had it to do again, I'd do it in the same way." He taunted one of the falsely accused men to sue him if he was innocent, and when the man did, he was subjected to death threats and menacing encounters that can only be attributed to Sharpton.
In the Central Park "wilding" case, a young white woman was set upon by a group of young Black males, who raped and beat her near death. Sharpton came to the rapists' defense, describing them as the equivalent of the "Scottsboro Boys." When the case went to trial, Sharpton brought his group to the courthouse steps where they shouted "whore" at the victim and chanted "the boyfriend did it."
Sharpton brought Tawana Brawley to the courthouse, where she and the jogger's attackers greeted one another warmly. Ever the ready provider of quotable zingers for the media, he said he had brought her there "to see the difference between white justice and Black justice."
When a Hasidic Jew lost control of his car, jumped the curb and killed a Black child, Sharpton decided to throw gasoline on the fire by denouncing a Jewish diamond company that bought South African diamonds, routed them through Tel Aviv and wholesaled them out of a Hasidic neighborhood in New York City. Rioters injured 100 Jews and lynched a rabbinical student.
"All we want to say is what Jesus said: if you offend one of these little ones, you got to pay for it. No compromise. You got to pay for your deeds. It's no accident that we know we should not be run over. We are the royal family on this planet. We are the original man."
When a Jewish retailer revoked a Black subtenant's lease in Harlem, Sharpton's National Action Network mounted a series of rallies to intimidate the Jew. Picketers screamed "bloodsucking Jews" and "Jew bastards," and threatened to burn the store down. They taunted a Black security guard as a "cracker lover."
At one of the rallies, Sharpton declared that "we will not stand by and allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business."
A Sharpton associate said "we're going to see that this cracker suffers. Reverend Sharpton is on it."
After weeks of escalating rhetoric, one of the overwrought partisans shouted "it's on," rushed into the store with a drawn firearm, and ordered all Blacks out of the store. He shot three whites and a Pakistani, whom he apparently mistook for a Jew, then set the store on fire, which killed five Hispanics, one Guyanese and the Black security guard.
Sharpton never took responsibility for inciting hatred against the Jewish retailer. At first he denied that he ever spoke at the rallies. When tapes proved he had, he was dismissive.
"What's wrong with denouncing white interlopers?" Sharpton asked.
What's Al Sharpton got to do with Barak H. Obama?
Well, the two have appeared together and been photographed together on several occasions. I don't think Obama would pose for photos with David Duke. And Obama has endorsed the activities of the man Richard Brookhiser called "an impresario of hatreds."
"Reverend Sharpton is a voice for the voiceless, and a voice for the dispossessed. What the National Action Network has done is so important to change America, and it must be changed from the bottom up."
If I've taken Obama out of context, I'm willing to be corrected. If you know of any instance where he has expressed disapproval of the way Al Sharpton handled the Tawana Brawley lie, the Central Park wilding, the Jew-lynching Crown Heights riots or the racially motivated shootings and arson on 125th Street, please post them in the Comments section below. I don't want to be unfair to Sen. Obama. But please supply a citation so that readers can look it up and independently verify it.
How would JFK have handled an endorsement by the Provisional Irish Republican Army?
It's safe to say that, despite his sentimental loyalty to Ireland, he would have distanced himself from violent Irish activists at least as emphatically as he distanced himself from the peace-loving bishops of the Catholic church.
Despite his stated ambition to be a uniter, Barak Obama has, thus far, lacked the steel or the inclination to renounce his most bigoted supporters. To date, this has been an asymmetrical factor in his favor. In South Carolina, for example, prominent Black Democrats openly acknowledged their racial motivation in voting for Obama. However, when former President Clinton noted that Jesse Jackson had won the South Carolina primary, he was accused of attempting to "marginalize" Obama by racial subtext.
This advantage is likely to hold as long as the generally left-leaning mass media keep message discipline. If significant media outlets break ranks to hold Obama as accountable as they held George Bush for speaking at Bob Jones University or Trent Lott for praising former Dixiecrat Strom Thurmond, the pressure could reach critical mass, at which point Obama may have to denounce his most fanatical supporters or forego outreach to independents and undecideds.