The Los Angeles Times has noted the fact that virtually every Democratic Party presidential contender for 2020, current and potential, is courting Al Sharpton’s support, despite his history of racism, antisemitism, and division.
The Times reports, in an article titled, “For Democrats, all paths to the White House run through the House of Sharpton,” that “[f]ew things once seemed more improbable” than Sharpton styling himself as a presidential kingmaker, given that he was so toxic that even mayors of New York City did not want Sharpton in town.
In 2008, Barack Obama would not touch Sharpton, making it clear that he did not even want Sharpton’s endorsement. But Obama later turned to Sharpton to help shore up black support, and rehabilitated him.
Breitbart News has documented Sharpton’s extensive history of bigotry, hate crime hoaxes, and incitement — which was associated with deadly riots in New York in the 1990s, and the Trayvon Martin controversy in recent years.
It was Sharpton and his “National Action Network” that elevated Martins’ death from a local news story to a national racial conflict, partly by emphasizing the misleading claim that the neighborhood watch volunteer who killed him, George Zimmerman, was white.
Gallup polls have shown that race relations in America, which had been improving for decades, began to decline at that point and have still not recovered — thanks, arguably, to Sharpton.
And yet Democratic presidential hopefuls have been making what seem to be obligatory appearances at the National Action Network conference in New York this week, many endorsing the idea of reparations for slavery:
Sharpton has deftly straddled the space between insider and outsider since elevating himself to the status of major player in Washington during the Obama years, when his street cred gained him regular West Wing access.
Candidates now publicly genuflect before him, as Beto O’Rourke did when the former Texas congressman took the stage soon after the conference got underway Wednesday.
Caution was not a trait associated with Sharpton in the past, but in his role as political kingmaker he strategically bides his time. He leaves open the possibility that even the most unlikely candidate could get his blessing.
Every Democrat is trying.
The enthusiasm with which candidates seek Sharpton’s seal of approval is a favorite topic in right-wing media, which remind their audiences of his past stoking of racial tensions in cases such as that of Tawana Brawley, a teenager in upstate New York who falsely claimed in 1987 that she was raped by four white men.
Opponents also point to incendiary comments Sharpton made amid riots in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights neighborhood in the early 1990s, when some saw his words as fomenting anti-Semitic violence against Hasidic Jews.
Read the full Los Angeles Times article here.
Bill Clinton famously broke with the left — and appealed to middle-class voters — by denouncing the racist remarks of rapper Sister Souljah in 1992. No Democrat appears willing to take such a stand against Al Sharpton today.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.