A popular urban myth has antisemitic riot leader Al Sharpton saying, “If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house,” after the Crown Heights pogrom he had led, which resulted in the murder of yeshiva student Yankel Rosenbaum Hy’d. It’s a lie. Sharpton made the despicable dare on August 18, 1991. The riots began on August 19.
Sharpton, who has been a significant force in radicalizing Black politics in America and suffocating the historic pact between Blacks and Jews, will forever remain soiled with Rosenbaum’s blood in our eyes, together with his shameless 1987, Tawana Brawley case in which he tried to destroy six blameless, white NYPD detectives, accusing them of a rape that never happened.
Now, with the help of Robert De Niro’s Tribeca film festival, legendary director Spike Lee and California-based Jewish filmmaker Josh Alexander, have joined forces to cleanse the antisemitic riot leader of those embarrassing blood stains, with ample help from The Associated Press. Because Alexander’s film, based on interviews with Sharpton and titled “Loudmouth,” which ended the Tribeca festival Saturday night, celebrates Sharpton’s legacy as “an extension of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rep. John Lewis.”
De Niro told the cheering audience at the Borough of Manhattan Community College auditorium downtown: “How interesting that the committee and the Rev are on the same page exposing the lies and the liars who threaten our democracy. They want to take away our right to vote and deny us social justice. While Washington deals with the lies and the big lie, tonight you’re in the company of patriot who challenges us to get to the truth.”
You know, an old friend of mine once told me that on a flight onboard the Ukraine International Airlines (to Uman on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, naturally), the flight magazine’s centerfold was devoted to Ukraine’s national hero, Bohdan Khmelnytsky, who orchestrated in 1648-49 the murders of tens of thousands of Jews. No one but us, Jews, recalls those bloody pogroms, whose descriptions of cruelty and bloodlust equal those of the Nazis and their Ukrainian, Polish, and other Eastern-European Jew-haters.
It appears no one today recalls Sharpton’s role in the attack on Crown Height’s Jews and the killing of Yankel Rosenbaum. According to the sworn testimony of then-Crown Heights resident Efraim Lipkind, Sharpton showed up before the riots. “Then we had a famous man, Al Sharpton, who came down, and he said Tuesday night, kill the Jews, two times. I heard him, and he started to lead a charge across the street to Utica,” Lipkind testified (How Al Sharpton Inflamed The Crown Heights Riot and How The Media Lied).
For three days, local African and Caribbean Americans who were joined by others from outside the neighborhood rioted in Crown Heights, and the Jews hid indoors lest they meet the same fate as Rosenbaum. On the third day of the pogrom, Al Sharpton led a march chanting, “No Justice, No Peace!”, “Death to the Jews!”, and “Whose streets? Our streets!” The mob burned an Israeli flag.
“Loudmouth” executive producer John Legend told the audience about Sharpton’s attempt to smear NY City detectives: “It just makes you realize that anybody who’s making noise for justice, especially for an oppressed minority, is always going to be treated as persona non grata in society. They’re always going to be unpopular to an extent because they’re fighting to disturb a status quo that protects a lot of people.”
That’s how Sharpton was cleared of his shameful attempt to subvert justice in the Tawana Brawley case. Sharpton’s former aide, Perry McKinnon, said that Sharpton and attorneys Alton Maddox and Vernon Mason didn’t care about Brawley and were using the case to, as he had heard Sharpton say, make them “the biggest niggers in New York.”
Spike Lee said “Loudmouth” should be shown in schools. “You have to show that racism doesn’t really have a particular Zip code,” he said.
Speaking of Zip codes, I searched the AP story for any mention of the Crown Heights pogroms, preparing myself for the sage way the Jewish filmmaker from California absolved this renowned Jew-hater of responsibility. I didn’t have to concern myself: there’s nothing in the AP report about those three days of infamy.
Like De Niro put it: “Tonight you’re in the company of patriot who challenges us to get to the truth.”