Culture

The Corner

Al Sharpton Puts Jefferson Memorial on Notice

Asked by Charlie Rose (at the 15:30 mark) “should they take down the Jefferson Memorial?” Al Sharpton reflected on the nature of slavery then answered a different question: whether the federal government should support the memorial. Sharpton said it should not. “When you look at the fact that public monuments are supported by public funds you’re asking me to subsidize the insult of my family. I would repeat that the public should not be paying to uphold somebody who has had that kind of background. You have private museums, you have other things that you may want to do there.” 

The Jefferson Memorial obviously can’t be placed in a museum. I’m not sure how privatizing it would work but I doubt the protesters who are surely coming to it will much worry about that detail. 

Sharpton also said  (at the 11:55 mark), in the course of criticizing President Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville, ”I’ve…in my own career wrestled, you’ve got to deal openly and say, no, I’m not gonna be with those elements, I’m not going to deal with violence. I’ve had to deal with that. I’m not saying anything that a lot of public officials haven’t had to struggle with, which is why I’m saying, he knows better. Every one of us knows when you’re around extremists that you need to say, ‘Wait a minute, I’m going to part company.’” 

After Sharpton played a key role in the 1991 riots in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, it took him 20 years to issue what The Forward called “the closest he will probably ever come to an apology” (“our language and tone sometimes exacerbated tensions and played to the extremists”) though he claimed he saw “brick-throwing on all sides” during the unrest, which he helped instigate. After a black youth was accidentally killed by a car driven by a Jew, Sharpton said these words at a service for the deceased: “Talk about how Oppenheimer in South Africa sends diamonds straight to Tel Aviv and deals with the diamond merchants right here in Crown Heights. The issue is not anti-Semitism; the issue is apartheid. . . . 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, no meetings, no coffee klatsch, no skinnin’ and grinnin’.”  A mob responded by murdering a rabbinical student and rioting for three days.

Sharpton in 1995 damned the Jewish owner of a sneaker store in Harlem at an angry rally broadcast on local radio during which he called the store’s owner a “white interloper” and added, “We are asking the ‘buy black’ committee to go down there, and I’m going to go down there and do what is necessary to let them know that we are not turning 125th Street back over to the outsiders that was done in the early part of this century. . . .This is a sin and a shame and a disgrace, and we should not under any circumstances sit by and allow this to happen without a major reaction and major protest from us.” One of the demonstrators who besieged the store shouting racist and anti-Semitic epithets later killed seven people and himself in an arson attack on it.

 

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