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Mainstream Al

Al Sharpton is in the news again. What now? Another run for the presidency? Is he challenging President Obama for the Democratic nomination? Has he made another false accusation of rape? No, he’s to host a show on MSNBC.

They do have some beauties on that network, I must say. I have a note on the incorrigible Contessa Brewer in today’s Impromptus. (Contessa is a beauty in more than the sarcastic sense, ’tis true. That’s why she’s on TV.)

NRO is also running, today, a golden oldie, or in any case an oldie: “Power Dem: The strange rise of a hatemonger.” It’s about Sharpton. I wrote it in March 2000, which was a long time ago. Janet Reno was attorney general. The number-one song was “Say My Name,” by Destiny’s Child.

“Power Dem” has been cited and circulated over the years, by people who want to stick it to Sharpton. I have done some citing and circulating myself. The piece definitely has the “goods” on Sharpton; it records his grotesque misdeeds (some of them, anyway).

But I must say, I have mixed feelings about the revival of this piece, its perpetuation. We must give people room to evolve, to change — to put off the old man and put on the new. Has Sharpton effected such a change? Does he deserve his mainstreaming?

I believe he has never apologized for the Tawana Brawley hoax. That was a disgusting affair. Sharpton pretty much ruined the life of a man named Steven Pagones, a good man who was an assistant DA. Once, Pagones was holding a press conference. Sharpton attempted to crash it, bellowing, “Your accuser has arrived!”

Really, what Sharpton put Pagones through was evil, there is no other word for it. I’m not sure he should be allowed to “move on” until he repents from it.

Just thought of something: Don’t they call him “Reverend”? Isn’t he supposed to be a minister or something? (I always think of him as a politician, rabble-rouser, and PR wizard.) Shouldn’t he know about bearing false witness, tears of repentance, blah, blah, blah? Has he ever read the Bible? Do “reverends” have to?

I have a suggestion for TV bookers: Try to find Pagones, see what he thinks about Sharpton’s new gig.

But hang on, I was not supposed to berate Sharpton in this post — I have done a lot of that, over the years. I was supposed to say: If Sharpton is truly a better man today, great. He should be allowed second, third, and fourth acts. The question I can’t quite answer is, How different is he?

He used to inveigh against “cocktail-sip Negroes” — one of his terms of abuse for blacks who weren’t radical, obnoxious, and cruel enough for him. Has he become one?

I frequently remind people that half the founding editors and writers of National Review were ex-Communists. (Burnham, Chambers, Meyer, Schlamm, Eastman, Dos Passos . . .) In other words, they had served an enterprise dedicated to the physical destruction of millions upon millions of people. And these ex-Communists were the most valuable anti-Communists around, as WFB was happy to tell you.

Remember, though: They had repented, big-time.


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