Politics & Policy

Republican Rep Spars with Al Sharpton over Past Anti-Semitic, Racist Remarks during Congressional Hearing

Al Sharpton in Baltimore, Md., July 29, 2019. (Stephanie Keith/Reuters)

Sparks flew at a House Judiciary Committee on policing last Thursday as Representative Matt Gaetz (R., Flo.) questioned witness Al Sharpton regarding derogatory comments he allegedly made about Jews, whites and African Americans.

Gaetz posted a shortened version of the exchange on YouTube, which nevertheless runs to almost a quarter of an hour. Gaetz, like Sharpton, is known for his combative style.

Reading from a Congressional resolution introduced in 2000 by then-congressman Joe Scarborough, Gaetz asked Sharpton, “Have you ever referred to members of the Jewish faith as ‘white interlopers’ or ‘diamond merchants?’”

Sharpton, who now appears regularly on Scarborough’s MSNBC program Morning Joe, replied that he had referred to one person in Harlem as an “interloper,” but that he didn’t know the person was Jewish at the time.

At one point Gaetz asked Sharpton whether he made the statement, “We [Africans] taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it.”

After Gaetz pressed him on whether or not he made this and other bigoted statements, Sharpton responded “I think that any statement I’ve made that was wrong…I have clearly said that we should not make bigoted statements, including me.”

Gaetz then jumped at Sharpton’s possible admission, asking repeatedly “Have you made bigoted statements?” before the hearing descended into chaos.

Sharpton meets frequently with prominent Democratic politicians as part of his work running the progressive political advocacy group National Action Network. Gaetz

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