Conservatives are supposed to hate Al Sharpton. The MSNBC television hostand civil rights activist has given the right ample fuel to fire their disdain. Sowhen he shows up in Ferguson, MO, to speak on behalf of the slainMichael Brown, we all know nothing good will come from it. Even if justice isachieved, God-willing, the scars that will remain in Ferguson will never heal dueto Sharpton’s presence.
The problem with hate and disdain, though, is that they blind you from seekingdeeper reflection. When conservatives think about Al Sharpton, they think aboutthe Crown Heights Riot, Tawana Brawley, and the Duke Lacrosse rape case.It’s instant repulsion. When every word out his mouth is shaped by race, it’simpossible to take Sharpton seriously.
The challenge is to move past dislike, ignore race, and focus on what Sharpton is really accomplishing in Ferguson, MO.
The 1991 film New Jack City offers a fitting analogy given the recent claim that Sharpton was a government drug informant in Harlem between 1983 and1988. In the film, Nino Brown (played by Wesley Snipes) was the man on his block, even though he soldpoison on the street. Every year around the holidays, Nino gave awayturkeys, gifts, and cash to ensure the people loved him. As long as the peopleloved him, he felt protected from government.
Al Sharpton was not Nino Brown. Sharpton was Chris Rock’s character Pookie, the underdog thatmade so many mistakes but needed just one more chance. Sharpton haslearned one of the lessons an entire generation learned from New Jack City: it’sbetter to live like Nino Brown than Pookie, especially if they both die in the end.
Watch Sharpton’s movements carefully. First, we complain when he shows up, but we fail to acknowledge he was asked to attend. Our reactionimplies insult that we conservatives weren’t invited. That’s our problem, notSharpton’s.
Second, he sits and counsels the family. I won’t put Reverend in front ofSharpton’s name, but I recognize others view him as an honest man of the cloth.Prayer is prayer. In times of grief, all prayer is welcome; a special bond is formedin worship.
Third, Sharpton meets with the local leadership and clergy. He knows his voiceis louder and reaches more people, but he pauses to allow the grassroots tospeak. He listens to their stories about Michael Brown and other instancesof police “victimization” of citizens. So when he speaks, he sounds like them,captures their cadence, and uses their language when echoing their reflections. Sharpton has created his own blueprint for outreach. Yes, it’s based on thetragedy of death of destruction, but it works.
After–notice I said after–he has paid his respects to the city by waiting for aninvite, paid respect to the family by offering them heartfelt condolences, andpaid respect to the citizens who invited him in, he then goes into full Progressivemode. His ideology waits until he’s handed out the turkeys, gifts, and cash.Indeed, Al Sharpton and his National Action Network will also be covering thecost of Michael Brown’s funeral.
None of this should upset conservatives.
You want to know how to create minority outreach? I’ll tell you: pay attention tothe moves Sharpton makes. Moreover, make a habit of showing up in the goodtimes and you’ll be invited back during the bad.
By the time Sharpton gets on camera, he’s already won the crowd. They areso emotional and connected to Sharpton that whatever comes out his mouthbecomes gospel. Monday on Politics Nation, he said it’s time to “deal with those who go over the line in law enforcement.” Infront of cameras on Tuesday, Sharpton called for peace and justice.
“In order to establish peace, you must have fair justice for everyone,” he declared. “We are not more angry than his mom and dad. Ifthey can hold their heads with dignity, we can hold our heads with dignity.”
If it weren’t for the dignity and class of Michael Brown’s parents, we would haveheard more robust language from Sharpton. Whether you like him or not, hedoes bow to the wishes of the family, and that deserves notice.
What Sharpton does next is pure genius. He uses the problem of “abusive” government topush for bigger government. Sharpton urged federal authorities to get involvedbecause local authorities can’t be trusted. The main witness to the shooting,Dorian Johnson, echoed Sharpton’s call. He still hasn’t spoken with localauthorities because, despite the huge media, legal, and community support, he distrusts police officials.
Random observation from the ghetto: when there is a mistrust of police, itextends to the Feds. In fact, most streets boys have a greater fear of FBI,DEA, ATF, and DOJ than they have of their local officers. They understand thedifference between a federal indictment and a local warrant. No ones chooses thefederal indictment.
Sharpton is teaching Ferguson progressivism. The local police force, thoseclosest to the citizens and communities, can’t be trusted, but you can trust thefederal government. Local, limited government will “abuse” you. Big federalgovernment will protect you and bring you justice.
For the people of Ferguson, I offer this friendly observation. Al Sharpton showedup and spoke loud about a cause that is deeply important to you. He offered hisvoice and the megaphone it provides. You feel upset with a system that doesn’tcare about you. You are mad they are protecting the police officer behind a wallof anonymity. A young, black, unarmed male was killed by Ferguson police, andAl Sharpton cares about your plight.
Except he fights to assure there are as many armed police officers in yourneighborhood as possible. When Barack Obama wanted to pass his stimulusbill in 2011, Sharpton said, “They’re laying off firefighters,police, and teachers. We’re not talking about radicals here. We’re talking aboutthe backbone of our country.” When fighting for jobs, he fought for the policeofficer’s job.
Is it because Sharpton likes police officers? No, it’s because police officers arerepresented by unions. And Al Sharpton always lobbies for union jobs. Theunions that organize his rallies or invite him to speak at their conferences are thesame unions that are protecting the police officer’s identity. They are the sameunions that will pay for the defense of the officer that took the life of MichaelBrown.
Next week, Al Sharpton will once again march with those unions.Al Sharpton said, “That’s the sign you got to deal with.Deal with the last sign he had shown. We want answers why that sign was notrespected.” He was speaking about reports that after the police officer shotMichael Brown once, Brown threw his hands in the air as a sign of surrender.Allegedly, the police officer then shot Michael Brown multiple times.
Al Sharpton should be asked why he continues to push gun laws that assurepolice officers are the only citizens with legal weapons. If young black men weretaught gun safety, rights, and responsibilities at a young age, they would exercisetheir Second Amendment freedoms responsibly. In an armed society, authoritiesare less likely to get involved in frivolous confrontation. Our Founders didn’tcreate the Second Amendment for hunting.
As Al Sharpton pushes for more gun control in places like Chicago, he is forcedto confront the reality that people don’t want their gun rights taken away. Instead,they want jobs. In December 2013, Sharpton held a Chicago town hall meetingto talk about the violence. The meeting erupted into a revolt against a laggingeconomy and high unemployment rates.
I bet if you asked the looters and rioters why they are truly upset, it would havemore to do with not being able to provide for their families than the death ofMichael Brown. This is inexcusable behavior, and calls for the immediate ofrelease of those arrested during the violence are destructive. They are justanother progressive tenet in action: absolve all wrongdoing under the guise ofempathy.
However, it would be less likely riots and looting would occur if people had themoney to purchase, not steal, the products they loot. People question why othergroups don’t riot and burn. Look at areas of poverty around the world, they do.People with jobs don’t rob and steal from businesses, because they understandthe importance of business survival. But what is Sharpton’s plan for reducingunemployment? Legalizing millions of illegal workers to compete for jobs that arecurrently unavailable.
If I, as a conservative black woman, can admit Al Sharpton isn’t the devil andreflect on the positive aspects of his outreach strategies, I beg Black America toexamine the poisonous price that comes with Sharptons megaphone.
When Pookie learns to be Nino Brown, we should pass on accepting the turkey,gifts, and cash.