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January 31, 2015 / 11 Shevat, 5775
 
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The Teflon Reverend

We suspect that many share our dismay that Al Sharpton’s unsavory past as a racial arsonist – recall his key role in the infamous Tawana Brawley hoax; his incitement during the Crown Heights riots (“If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house”); and his incitement against “white interlopers” just prior to the Freddie’s Fashion Mart massacre, to cite just a few examples – apparently is of no concern to President Obama, Attorney General Holder, or New York City Mayor de Blasio.

All came to pay homage to Rev. Sharpton in major addresses to his National Action Network’s convention in New York City last week.

It also seemed not to matter to them that Rev. Sharpton and the National Action Network have had serious tax problems involving large amounts owed to both the IRS and New York State. And it is not clear that all those problems have been resolved.

Nor did it seem relevant that according to widely circulated media reports, Rev. Sharpton was caught on an FBI surveillance video discussing possible drug sales with an FBI agent. He then reportedly “flipped” and agreed to wear a wire to tape his conversations with Mafia figures.

To be sure, Rev. Sharpton denies the drug stories, but why would the president of the United States, his attorney general, and the mayor of New York rush to honor him in the face of such serious claims?

President Obama said nothing about any of this but heaped praise on Rev. Sharpton for his contributions to the civil rights movement and, in a move to underscore the reverend’s civil rights credentials, used his address to launch an attack on the GOP for allegedly threatening the right to vote:

The right to vote is threatened today in a way that it has not been since the Voting Rights Act became law nearly five decades ago. Across the country, Republicans have led efforts to pass laws making it harder, not easier, for people to vote….

America did not stand up and did not march and did not sacrifice to gain the right to vote for themselves and for others only to see it denied to their kids and their grandchildren.

The president went on to explain that he was talking about Republican plans to limit hours for voting and end same-day registration and various voter identification measures he said would discriminate against poor voters.

Earlier, the attorney general of the United States was just as mute on the aforementioned incitement, tax, or drug issues, telling Rev. Sharpton in front of his audience: “I have been proud to stand alongside you in supporting efforts to advance the cause of justice.”

Mayor de Blasio, who like President Obama and Attorney General Holder ignored the myriad controversies surrounding the man of the hour, outdid all in effusiveness: “I just want everyone to know, I am proud to stand with Rev. Sharpton…. To borrow a phrase from our youth, Reverend, he’s the real thing.”

Mr. De Blasio went on to condemn what he said was the discriminatory way “stop and frisk” had been administered under Mayor Bloomberg, calling it “separate and unequal.” He spoke at length about what he described as Rev. Sharpton’s career of drawing attention to injustice.

His defenders would no doubt say that Rev. Sharpton is no longer an inflammatory racial huckster. We doubt, however, that a white public figure who said the kinds of things about blacks that Rev. Sharpton said about whites and Jews would find such eager acceptance among liberals no matter how insistent his claims to have turned over a new leaf. But the problem goes even beyond the matter of hypocrisy.

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