At an upcoming conference, the Religious Action Center—the advocacy and activism arm of American Reform Judaism—has on its roster of speakers the “civil-rights leader” Al Sharpton. An anti-Semitic demagogue, Sharpton has twice incited his followers to violence against Jews—in the 1991 Crown Heights riots and the 1995 attack on Freddie’s Fashion Mart—leading to a combined figure of nine deaths. Yet he was a frequent guest at the Obama White House and now has his own political talk show. Chris Robbins comments:
In August 1991 [Sharpton] helped incite a three-day race riot in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York. . . . In response to a tragic [traffic] accident, Sharpton organized angry protests. . . . He railed against Jewish “diamond merchants” and later told a crowd that “if the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house.” Roused by Sharpton’s rhetoric, the mob rampaged. It pursued and cornered an innocent Jewish victim. Yankel Rosenbaum, then twenty-nine years old, was an Orthodox student visiting Crown Heights from Australia. Sharpton’s mob stabbed him to death.
[S]ome say Sharpton has outgrown his past. We could perhaps entertain that conclusion if Sharpton had addressed his misdeeds and asked his victims for forgiveness during his Obama-era makeover. But [he] is not repentant. The best we can say is that after cable-television executives insisted upon—and bought and paid for—Sharpton’s good manners, he has had the good sense to stay bought.
[The Religious Action Center] sees Sharpton as a key bedfellow in the anti-Trump alliance as well as a bridge to the African-American community. [It] thus chooses to see Sharpton version 2.0, the recently minted civil-rights leader and power broker. Sharpton’s sordid past is off limits. It would be better to remember Yankel Rosenbaum.