Democratic Presidential Candidates’ Shameful Race to Defend Al Sharpton

August 2, 2019 | Seth Mandel
About the author: Seth Mandel is the executive editor of the Washington Examiner magazine.

This week, Donald Trump made some disparaging remarks about Al Sharpton, leading the candidates for the Democratic presidential nomination to rush to praise this notorious race-baiter who twice incited deadly violence against Orthodox Jews in New York City. Seth Mandel takes them to task for following the now-standard political principle of “the enemy of my enemy is my infallible hero”:

Sharpton is unworthy of such praise, so much so that the decision to back him reflexively is a massive moral demerit. Calling Sharpton a lifelong fighter for “justice,” [as did Elizabeth Warren], ignores his history of race-baiting and deadly anti-Semitic incitement.

Sharpton [remains] free of shame or apology. “You only repent when you mean it, and I have done nothing wrong,” he insisted years [after the murders he encouraged in the 1990s]. In 2011, he wrote a gobsmacking piece of revisionist history for the New York Daily News, claiming his remarks were being manipulated by “extremist Jews.” [Evidently], Sharpton doesn’t think he’s getting enough credit for his behavior.

[But] at Wednesday night’s Democratic presidential debate, no one asked [Elizabeth] Warren about Sharpton’s record or the message she might be sending with such full-blown praise. Nor was Pete Buttigieg—who has struck up a very public alliance with Sharpton in an attempt to burnish his standing with black voters—prodded about the hypocrisy on display. Republicans, Buttigieg lectured, “are supporting naked racism in the White House, or at best silent about it.” . . . What would Buttigieg say about his own support for a public figure with a long history of bigotry? We don’t know, because no one thought to ask him at the debate. (I have repeatedly asked his campaign for comment, to no avail.)

We are routinely told that harsh criticism of minority members of Congress amounts to incitement to violence. What of Sharpton, who initially made his career out of explicit incitement to violence? [These days] this is no idle concern.

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