Politics & Policy

Let Sharpton Be Sharpton!

Republicans should embrace his candidacy.

How conveeeeeee-nient that Al Sharpton’s headquarters would burn down the very day after he announced his run for the presidency. The Rotund Rev turned up outside the smoking ruin of the National Action Network and vowed not to be intimidated or deterred in his sacred mission. His usual rent-a-mob responded with — what else? — “No justice, no peace!” This is going to be one hell of a campaign.

#ad#Actually, investigators say that a faulty extension cord likely caused the fire. But it’s always smart to be cynical when dealing with Al Sharpton. He is a liar, a scalawag, and a master media manipulator who is capable of doing or saying anything to increase his own advantage among his credulous constituency.

You will remember the Tawana Brawley hoax he perpetrated, and the defamatory lies he told about prosecutor Steven Pagones, for which Sharpton has never apologized. You will recall his stoking anti-Semitic rhetorical fires during the Jew-bashing Crown Heights riots. And you surely will get a karmic twinkle in your eye considering Wednesday’s blaze in light of Sharpton’s key 1995 role in creating a climate of racial violence outside Freddy’s Fashion Mart, which was owned by a Jew denounced as a “white interloper” by Sharpton; a protester shot four Freddy’s employees and set the store on fire, killing seven others.

Sharpton has tried several times to reinvent himself as a respectable leader. Two years ago, he decided that slave-trading in Sudan was an issue crying for his attention. What’s going on there — Africans enslaving Africans — is a sin and a scandal, as is the silence of America’s black leadership. It didn’t escape notice at the time that Sharpton’s traveling to Sudan to raise the issue put his rival Jesse Jackson in a bad light. When Sharpton returned, he declared that he had been inspired while on the journey to run for president. He promptly forgot about the black slaves of Sudan. They were mere props to propel Sharpton’s political career.

Really, there should be no place for a man with Al Sharpton’s record at the American political table. And yet, I am excited about his campaign. Let Sharpton be Sharpton! is ever on my lips these days.

The political journalist part of me can’t wait to cover Sharpton’s run. The man can be a riveting orator, and he has a bomb-thrower’s gift for making news, which is why so many in the New York media tolerate, and even cater to him. The fact that he’s only in the race to promote Al Sharpton means he’ll say anything to get a rise out of the rabble who take their political cues from his leadership. And he’s going to drive the Democratic party crazy with lines like this: “Democratic leadership is treating minority voters like their mistresses. We are good enough to have a little fun with around election time, but we are not good enough to meet mama and daddy.”

Ultimately, the best reason for conservatives to rally behind a Sharpton candidacy is what it will reveal about the Democratic party and its inability to speak honestly about race — and indeed, what a Sharpton candidacy will reveal about double standards liberals tolerate in public life.

Republicans took a whipping over a gaffe made by Trent Lott, a mere senator, but now the Democrats have to deal with a bona fide black racial demagogue, a man in David Duke’s league, blunder bussing onto the national stage as a candidate for his party’s nomination. Democratic politicians are scared to death of offending Sharpton, because they don’t want to be denounced as racist by a man who can command such media attention.

Sharpton cannot be anyone other than Sharpton. He’s going to say hilarious, outrageous things, to which the Stuffy White Guy candidates — Kerry, Lieberman, Gephardt — will be forced to respond. Yet they are going to go to extreme lengths to keep from antagonizing Sharpton. They’ll be like the Episcopal bishop before Rev. Bacon in Bonfire of the Vanities. He’s going to mau-mau them. From a conservative point of view, their torture will be exquisite.

And it will have an instructive point. The Left in this country — and that includes the mainstream media — either cannot or will not see black people as people who ought to be held to the same standards as the rest of us. They are to be given special treatment ad infinitum, their prejudices tolerated, their outrages ignored or explained away, and their leaders indulged no matter how they behave. They have played to the lowest, meanest sentiments of black voters by imputing racist motives to conservatives who question liberal views on race policy, and in no case more cruelly than when those conservatives happen to be black themselves. I expect the phenomenon known as Sharpton for President to be the apotheosis of this condescending, racist paternalism, and that whether he intends to or not, Sharpton will make fools of the Democrats.

Good. They created this monster. They bloody well deserve him.

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