When Don Imus sought absolution for his characteristic display of poor taste, he bent his knee to Pope Al Sharpton. How is it that Al Sharpton has become the arbiter elegantiae for matters pertaining to race and etiquette? Though he is accorded an absurdly respected role in the Democratic Party by politicians such as Hillary Clinton and John Kerry, he is easily one of the most vile men active in American public life.
Jay Nordlinger reviewed Sharpton’s record as of early 2000 in his brilliant National Review feature article “Power Dem.” Jay updated his take on Sharpton this past December in his Impromptus column “Words from Pope Al.” From his promotion of Tawana Brawley’s hoax and his defamation of Steven Pagones and Robert Abrams, to his defense of the Central Park “wilding” rapists, to his role in the pogroms leading to the murders of Yankel Rosenbaum in Crown Heights and eight victims in Freddy’s Fashion Mart in Harlem, Sharpton has compiled a record that should result in his excommunication by decent people from civil society. Here is Pope Al on the accidental death of Gavin Cato in Crown Heights in August 1991:
The world will tell us that [Gavin Cato] was killed by accident….What type of city do we have that would allow politics to rise above the blood of innocent babies?…Talk about how Oppenheimer in South Africa sends diamonds straight to Tel Aviv and deals with the diamond merchants right here in Crown Heights….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. Pay for your deeds….It’s no accident that we know we should not be run over. We are the royal family on the planet. We are the original man. We gazed into the stars and wrote astrology. We had a conversation and that became philosophy….We will win because we are right. God is on our side.
Writing in the Village Voice in December 2004, Wayne Barrett proclaimed Sharpton to have hit “a new low.” And Sharpton of course contributed to the miscarriage of justice represented by the charges brought last year and dismissed this week against the three Duke lacrosse players. In an April 2006 interview with Bill O’Reilly, Sharpton said (among other things):
This case parallels Abner Louima, who was raped and sodomized in a bathroom like this girl has alleged she was. That’s the case and just like the Louima case, you have people saying she fabricated it. They said he fabricated it — two guys in jail right now for that.
The only contribution Al Sharpton stands to make to American public life is the removal of himself from it.
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