"This is not about whether you're a good man," Sharpton said. "What you said was racist." Al Sharpton commenting to Don Imus on Al Sharpton radio program on April 9th, 2007
Barack Obama – whether he's a temporary phenomenon in American politics or not – is amazing indeed. 26 million dollars in donations and 100,000 individual donors make him noteworthy of comment. He is a player and will most likely remain so at least through the super primaries early next year. Obama is distressing the Clinton's because he is developing a following of black voters who the Clinton's once coveted as exclusively theirs to take into the polls on their victory run.
One that is not jumping on the Obama bandwagon is former presidential candidate Al Sharpton. Al's complaint against Obama is that essentially Obama isn't black enough i.e. Obama hasn't marched in the marches, gone to jail, or been up in the face of the white establishment. Fortunately for the black voter and for an increasingly multi-cultural electorate, Barack Obama is marching – past Sharpton and towards the future.
Two of the most popular articles I have written for this magazine were about Don Imus, the irreverent host of Imus in the Morning. The first article was extremely critical of Imus. In A Criticism of MSNBC
, I went so far as to suggest that the FCC monitor some of Imus's language as I thought he crossed several lines of good taste. In my second article, Revisiting Don Imus,
I was much more conciliatory and I mentioned some of the truly good works that Imus was doing for children, wounded veterans, and the autistic.
Don Imus is a shock jock with a heart. He is 100% offensive to everyone – including his beautiful and talented wife Deidre who he calls the "green ho" because of her national advocacy of removing toxins from our homes and work places. Imus has made fun of politicians like Representative Joe Barton R-TX, who Imus has attacked unmercifully for Barton's holding up passage of a critical bill on autism. When John Kerry made the gaffe that took him out of a second run for the presidency, it was his friend, Don Imus, who took him to task for it, and publicly chastised Kerry on TV. Imus has called Don Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney war criminals, and has been one of the more thunderous voices condemning the conditions at Walter Reed Army Hospital and various VA hospitals.
Last week, Don Imus made a big mistake and discovered the limits of free speech. Commenting on a women's basketball game, he called members of the Rutgers's women's basketball team a bunch of "nappy headed ho's." Subsequently he apologized for his comments and then after criticism from Al Sharpton, Imus apologized again. The second apology pained me because in what I would call a capitulatory gesture, Imus agreed to appear on the Sharpton radio show and apologize again – and explain himself.
This pains me because - despite Don Imus's controversial reputation - Imus has more character in his pinky than Al Sharpton has in an entire lifetime. Sharpton, like his mentor Jesse Jackson, has become a professional shakedown artist. Some facts:
- Tawana Brawley Controversy – Tawana Brawley was a fifteen-year-old girl who made accusations about several men including several police officers in a rape and assault case in Wappingers Falls, New York in 1987. Al Sharpton highlights the case in speeches and makes several inflammatory statements in support of Brawley. Later the Grand Jury concludes that the incident never happened. Brawley and her mother escape to Virginia with $300,000 worth of defense fund money partially raised by Sharpton. Even today, there is a warrant for their arrest if they every return to New York. Sharpton and his associates were later sued and had to cough up $345,000 for their false statements.
- Crown Heights Riots – Sharpton was considered unhelpful in riots against a Jewish community in New York in 1991. Because of the nature of the riots, some Jewish leaders, commenting on the anti-Semitic characteristics refer to the riots as the Crown Heights Pogrom. A visiting rabbinical student from Australia was killed by the crowd screaming, "Kill the Jew."
- Freddie's Fashion Mart – Sharpton was present when a Jewish shop owners shop was burned down. Sharpton denied standing in the crowd calling the shop owner a "white interloper." When confronted with a video tape disputing his denial, Sharpton asked what was wrong with calling someone a "white interloper?"
- Predatory Lending Advocacy – blacks are more the victims of predatory lending than any other segment of our society. Until 2005, Al Sharpton was associated as a spokesperson for one of the larger predatory lending companies in the United States- Loan Max. After criticism, Sharpton ended his relationship.
Al Sharpton has been at the center of several incidents where using the power of his speech he has needlessly inflamed passions. Here is an excerpt from an interview where he comments on the Duke Lacrosse Team rape case. Another instance where Sharpton and his cohort Jesse Jackson inflamed passions and probably prolonged the agony of the victims - who turned out to be the team. That case was dropped this week. Sharpton's publicity drawing comments were made last year during an interview with Bill Oreilly:
But I think that all of the facts that you have laid out the DA had — and I know this DA is probably not one that is crazy. He would not have proceeded if he did not feel that he could convict. So it tells me that all of what you said is either not true or he has convincing evidence that would certainly knock that out and no one is not letting him proceed. You know, a lot of those community leaders down there, pro and con, wanted a lot of people to come in.
Al Sharpton's inflammatory rhetoric and status as a former presidential candidate do not change who he really is – a street punk in a suit...