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Holder Meets Sharpton
The attorney general heaps praise on an infamous huckster.

Eric Holder and Al Sharpton in April 2011

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Andrew C. McCarthy

Eric Holder rode in on the stench of Marc Rich and will ride out on the stench of Al Sharpton. He’s spent the three-plus years in between branding Americans as “cowards” on race matters; investigating the CIA; coddling CAIR and the New Black Panthers; green-lighting voter fraud; swaddling Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in the Bill of Rights; and converting the Justice Department into a full-employment program for the Lawyer Left and its Gitmo boutique. But now he’s hit the big time.

This week, our esteemed attorney general canoodled with Reverend Al at the annual convention of the “National Action Network,” home base for the infamous huckster (that would be Sharpton, not Holder — sorry for any confusion). It is difficult to imagine another attorney general in American history sucking up to such a race-mongering charlatan. The Sharpton record was succinctly catalogued on the Corner by Victor Davis Hanson: inciting murderous riots; slandering Jews, Mormons, and homosexuals; libeling a state prosecutor in the course of championing Tawana Brawley’s fabrication of a racial “hate crime.” Yet there was Holder, ladling cringe-making praise on Sharpton for “your partnership, your friendship, and your tireless efforts to speak out for the voiceless, to stand up for the powerless, and to shine a light on the problems we must solve and the promises we must fulfill.”

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Holder is currently in “partnership” with his fast friend on the highly charged Trayvon Martin case. In the days before the nation’s chief federal law-enforcement official lionized the CEO of the nation’s racial-grievance industry, Sharpton had been in Florida, threatening that his “action network” — as in “direct action,” the community-organizer’s stock-in-trade — would “move to the next level” if authorities in Sanford, Fla., failed to arrest George Zimmerman, the man (or, if you prefer the New York Times Agitator’s Glossary, the “white Hispanic”) who shot Mr. Martin, a black 17-year-old.

With such notches on his belt as Crown Heights and Freddie’s Fashion Mart, there’s not a lot of mystery involved when the Reverend Al starts conjuring “the next level” of “action.” Still, never what you’d call a master of subtlety, Sharpton — between inciting mobs with demands to “arrest Zimmerman now!” — expressly threatened to “occupy” the city of Sanford.

The nation’s chief federal law enforcer reacted to these threats of lawlessness with paeans to Sharpton’s besotted history. Beyond that, Holder has been doing plenty of agitating on his own. He bragged to Sharpton’s crowd that he’d ordered his Justice Department to open an investigation into the Martin shooting three weeks ago. He stood ready, he vowed, to file “civil rights” charges if warranted by “the facts and the law.”

Just one problem: Nothing about the known facts comes close to triggering federal jurisdiction. Holder’s “civil rights” hooey is based on fiction: a tale manufactured by NBC News, the flimflam artists who doctored the audiotape of Zimmerman’s call to the police, stoking public outrage with a report that Zimmerman had racially profiled Martin.

The case at hand involves the excruciating loss of a 17-year-old’s life. We do not know exactly what happened. We do know, however, that there is virtually no chance Martin’s race was the cause of his killing. Quite apart from Zimmerman’s lineage — which the Times would be reporting as “Hispanic,” not the newfangled “white Hispanic,” if he had been on the receiving end of fired shots — Zimmerman is of a mixed-race family. Not only does he have black relatives, he has reportedly donated his time to tutor black children. He seems to have used tragically poor judgment in the chain of events that led to Martin’s death, but there is no indication that he is a racist or that his overeager actions were motivated by racial bias. In the context of the case, Martin’s race is sheer happenstance. Its principal relevance is the divisive opening it presents for opportunistic racialists such as Sharpton and Holder.

Race is a dubious constitutional basis for federal intrusion into state law enforcement. The framers saw policing as a state matter– that’s why there was no U.S. Justice Department for the first 83 years of constitutional governance. One needn’t be blind to slavery and structural racism to understand that 21st-century Florida has moved beyond these blights on the nation’s history. There is zero reason to believe that, without Eric Holder hovering, Florida’s police, prosecutors, and citizens could not be trusted to do justice.



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