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May 14, 2007

Time for Al Sharpton to Sink Into Irrelevance


The hypocrisy has struck once again. Barely weeks after hanging Don Imus’s scalp on his wall of self-importance, Al Sharpton has again blundered far more egregiously than his own victims. Sharpton said last week in reference to Mitt Romney: “As for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him anyways, so don't worry about that; that's a temporary situation.”


Naturally, Romney was displeased with the comment implying that he and his fellow Mormons do not believe in God. Yet Sharpton still refuses to apologize to him, the primary target of the cutting remarks. He did, however, make a statement directed to the Mormon community, trying to make it pass for an apology: “If . . . any member of the Mormon Church was inadvertently harmed or bothered or in any way aggrieved because of the distortion of my words or the lack of clarity of my words, they have my sincere apology.”


Thank you, Reverend Sharpton, for apologizing on behalf of those who “distorted” your words. Now are you ever going to apologize for your own mistakes?


For months, Sharpton was an active participant in the destruction of the reputation of three white Duke University lacrosse players who were wrongfully accused of raping and assaulting a young black woman. For months, he sided unequivocally with Crystal Gail Mangum, the “victim” who fabricated the story, and with Durham District Attorney Mike Nifong, who is in danger of losing his career for his behavior in the case. Although these two came out humiliated once the players’ innocence was established, Sharpton was untouched and refused to apologize, despite his role in ruining the lives of the three players.


For some reason, the man is still out there, as active and prominent as ever. The Tawana Brawley controversy, the Crown Heights riot and the Freddie’s Fashion Mart events should have each independently sufficed in ending Sharpton’s career, but they have not. The same goes for the Duke lacrosse case. Yet instead of staying out of the public eye, he battles on. Worst of all, the media and the politicians give him the green light for it.


Sharpton called for Rush Limbaugh to be fired from ESPN after his relatively inconsequential comments about the media’s perception of Donovan McNabb’s skills. He insisted that Imus be fired for making one inappropriate comment, despite Imus’s sincere apology to the women affected and his attempts to reach out to Sharpton. If Imus’s career has ended for insulting a few women, shouldn’t Sharpton also disappear from the cameras and lose America’s respect for so seriously insulting an entire religion?


To make matters even worse, not only has Sharpton issued a poor, quasi-apology to the Mormon community and refused to apologize to Romney, but he, in fact, proceeded to exacerbate the situation by reinventing it as a civil rights issue. Instead of taking responsibility for his behavior, Sharpton has turned himself into the victim. He has now deflected the attention from himself by complaining that the Mormon Church did not accept blacks until only a few decades ago: If prior to ‘65, ‘78, whenever it was, they did not see blacks as equal, I do not believe that as real worshipers of God, because I do not believe God distinguishes between people. That’s not bigotry. That’s responding to their bigotry.”


So, not only do Mormons not believe in God, but they are now part of a denomination based on racism. What was that “apology” for again, Al?


Al Sharpton has made his career off the backs of genuine victims who were wrongly dragged into the national spotlight – such as the Rutgers women’s basketball team, or alternatively, victims he invented for publicity, including most recently Crystal Gail Mangum. In the former cases he is a hypocrite and an opportunist, and in the latter situations he is unethical, genuinely harmful and habitually refuses to apologize. Why is he seen as a spokesman for the black community? Why is he a leader for anyone?


He should be irrelevant. To many of us, he already is. Keeping him off the air and out of the news pages would go a long way in allowing a real debate about the issues on the one hand, and a faster national racial reconciliation on the other.

© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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