In a cynical ploy to boost his standing among African-American voters, the South Bend, Indiana mayor and presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg very publicly shared a meal with the notorious race-baiter and anti-Semitic agitator Al Sharpton. Most of the other candidates for the Democratic nomination joined Buttigieg in attending Sharpton’s annual conference. To Seth Mandel, the current rush to pledge fealty to Sharpton—who instigated the 1991 Crown Heights riots as well as the 1995 firebombing of Freddie’s Fashion Mart—is “particularly ghastly.”
Sharpton’s elevation comes amid an uptick in reported incidents of anti-Semitism. Just days before Buttigieg’s public celebration of Sharpton, a man fired shots at a Chabad synagogue in Poway, killing one person. In chilling echoes of the 1991 Crown Heights riots, in which Sharpton played a leading role, there’s been a rash of anti-Semitic assaults in Brooklyn. In New York on the whole, . . . the embrace of Sharpton isn’t coming in a vacuum. It accelerates a trend of enabling anti-Semitism in the service of an all-consuming [anti-Trump] “resistance.”
Sharpton’s comeback was helped along massively by President Barack Obama and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The latter is also running for the Democratic presidential nomination this year. Sharpton was marginalized by their predecessors and by his actions, but Obama and de Blasio arguably made him more powerful politically than he’s ever been. Sharpton’s return to respectability surprised fans and critics alike.
Sharpton was and remains unrepentant [for the acts of violence and murder he instigated]. “You only repent when you mean it, and I have done nothing wrong,” he insisted in 2001. In 2011, on the twentieth anniversary of the Crown Heights pogrom, he blamed “extremists in the Jewish community” for setting a dishonest racial narrative.