The Guilty Al Sharpton

American political activist, Reverend Al Sharpton.

American political activist, Reverend Al Sharpton. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Outrage over the controversial death of Trayvon Martin has reached a fevered pitch, and there doesn’t appear to be anything tamping the public anger.  Quite the opposite, the Reverend Al Sharpton has just upped the ante by calling for an “escalation” of the orchestrated outrage to the “next level.”

Sharpton’s divisive speech, though not overtly calling for violence, has riled up activists around the country.  And though he’s not “afraid of violence” from the protesters in whom he foments fear and anger, he seems to be alone in that.  Gun sales have surged in recent days, as “fears grow that the country is moving closer to a racial civil war.”

That may seem an excessively fearful prediction, but there is no escaping the fact that Sharpton has sparked the fuses to a great many powder kegs. Of course, he denies any wrongdoing in having done so. “Don’t act like [we are] the ones who are violent,” he said. “We didn’t shoot nobody.”

To his credit, Al Sharpton has never, to my knowledge, “shot nobody.”  But that does not absolve him of the blame he deserves for any forthcoming violence and mayhem caused by those he sways with his words and influence, does it? I mean, I don’t recall the “I didn’t shoot nobody” defense clearing Charles Manson’s name.

But escaping his deserved blame for choreographing social unrest and violence is a talent Sharpton seems to have.

Take an incident in 1991 where a seven year old black child named Gavin Cato had been killed by the car of a Hasidic Jew.  Within three hours, anti-Semitic mobs had murdered a rabbinical student named Yankel Rosenbaum “in retribution.” Sharpton attended young Cato’s funeral, where he issued criticism of the Jewish community and “organized massive, angry demonstrations.” The “diamond merchants,” as Sharpton so compassionately referred to these Jews, were invited to “pull their yarmulkes back and come over to my house,” where the score would be settled. Incited by this rhetoric, more anti-Semitic mobs erupted, lasting for three days, damaging the homes, vehicles, and businesses of local Jews.

Did Sharpton accept any part of this blame? Not only did he not accept blame, he refused to lay blame with the mobs where it most directly belonged.  He said, “We must not reprimand our children for this outrage, when it is the outrage that was put in them by an oppressive system.”

Even worse, consider an incident in 1995, where “Sharpton and his National Action Network led an ugly boycott against Freddy’s Fashion Mart, a Jewish owned shop in Harlem.”  The owner, named Fred Harari, wished to expand his business, and doing so required that he no longer rent part of his building to a store called “Record Shack.” The problem with all this is that Harari was Jewish, and “Record Shack” was owned by a black man, which clearly offended the sensibilities of Sharpton’s “Buy Black” committee that would lead the boycott. Spurred by Sharpton’s message that “we will not stand by and allow them to move this brother so some white interloper can expand his business,” and in spite of the fact that Harari actually owned the building, anti-Semitic mobs took to the streets in protest, uttering phrases like “Kill the crackers!” and “Get the Jew bastards!” As a result, the violent protesting turned deadly when one individual “shot four whites inside the store and set the building on fire, killing seven.”

Yet despite his clear responsibility in inciting this racial violence aimed at whites and Jews, Sharpton still fancies himself a paragon of tolerance, an essential player in the advancement of civil discourse on race. Laughable doesn’t even begin to describe that.

Sharpton claims victims, and hides behind the mantle of good intentions. Sometimes his victims suffer physical loss, sometimes just wrongful public shame and misery, as happened with the Duke Lacrosse incident.  Why he does these things is a subject of debate, but perhaps the best description yet comes from John Perrazo, editor of Discover the Networks. He asserts that Sharpton says such “hurtful, malicious, deceitful things” “chiefly for the purpose of justifying his own existence as a proverbial shepherd shielding black Americans from the white racist wolves that supposedly surround them at all times.”

And why would he do that? That’s even less obscure, and an observant American should have known the answer to this question since the beginning of Sharpton’s career. In 1988, as Sharpton busied himself with the Tawanna Brawley hoax, a Sharpton aide named Perry McKinnon came forward with a shocking disclosure. He said that Sharpton had admitted to advancing the Brawley hoax for sensationalism. McKinnon reported, under video surveillance and a polygraph, that Sharpton said: “The story do sound like bull—t, but it don’t matter. We’re building a movement. This is the perfect issue. Because you’ve got whites on blacks. That’s an easy way to stir up the deprived people, who would want to believe and who would believe- and all [you’ve] got to do is convince them- that all white people are bad. Then you’ve got a movement.”

Trayvon Martin’s death is this newest “movement.” And if any violence now occurs as a result of Sharpton’s “escalated” civil disobedience, he will be, as he has so many times in the past, unquestionably guilty. And we can only hope that, in the future, the court of public opinion will punish Sharpton for his crimes, rather than absolve him.

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