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Jewish World Review Feb. 22, 2000 /16 Adar I, 5760

Don Feder

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Dems court homicidal race-hustler -- IMAGINE THE FOLLOWING headline: "Bush Tries to Soothe Concerns of David Duke." How would the media cover Republican pandering to a white racist? A story in the Feb. 14 New York Times ("Gore Tries to Soothe Concerns of Sharpton") reported on a meeting between the vice president and the Reverend Al Sharpton -- one of New York's most notorious racists.

Unlike a good alpha male, Gore slunk into the meeting. Sharpton pronounced the hour-long session "extremely positive."

Gore isn't alone in quietly courting the portly demagogue. In the past year, Bill Bradley and Hillary Clinton have both made pilgrimages to his Harlem headquarters. A Sharpton protege runs Bradley's New York campaign. In July 1999, Clinton's Justice Department invited Sharpton to take part in a forum on police brutality. He later attended a White House reception.

When it comes to standing up to minority hatemongers, the party of Clinton has (in the words of Teddy Roosevelt) the backbone of a chocolate eclair.

Al Sharpton is a plague. Death and destruction follow him like a well-trained retriever. For better than a decade, he has inflicted misery on the innocent of all races.

Tawana Brawley -- This may be Sharpton's most benign caper. Only a man's character was assassinated. In 1987, 15-year-old Brawley claimed she had been kidnapped and raped by a gang of white men. Sharpton, a Brawley advisor, identified one of her assailants as Steven Pagones, then a Dutchess County assistant district attorney. Pagones says the smear ruined his career.

A grand jury exposed Brawley's accusations as false. (She made the story up to avoid punishment for staying out late.) Pagones sued for defamation. Last July, a court ordered Sharpton and two co-defendants to pay Pagones $345,000.

Crown Heights -- More than a reputation was destroyed in this Brooklyn neighborhood. In 1991, Sharpton turned the death of a black child in a traffic accident, involving a Hasidic Jew, into a racial incident.

Within hours of the tragedy, Sharpton rushed to the neighborhood, gasoline can and matches in hand. At the child's funeral, he railed at "diamond merchants" (a code name for Hasidic Jews). Later, the Rev led 400 chanting protesters through the Jewish section of Crown Heights. A man marching next to him held a sign that read, "The White Man is the Devil."

Following the demonstration, there were four nights of rock- and bottle-throwing attacks on Jewish homes. Yankel Rosenbaum, a young Talmudic scholar, was surrounded by a mob shouting "kill the Jew" and stabbed to death.

Freddy's Fashion Mart -- With each Sharpton project, the body count rises. Thanks to the Minister of Mayhem's involvement, a 1995 landlord-tenant dispute escalated into arson-murder.

When Freddy's attempted to evict a black-owned record store, the Rev saw it as a "conspiracy" by a "white interloper" to drive black businesses from Harlem.

Sharpton's Buy Black Committee picketed Freddy's. Committee chairman Morris Powell denounced the "Jewish department store" (yup, Freddy's was owned by a "diamond merchant") and promised "to make this cracker suffer."

Following a demonstration, one of the protesters ran into the store, shot several employees, set the place on fire and killed himself. In this carnage, seven died, most black and Hispanic. Don't fault Sharpton for not being inclusive.

Part buffoon, part Brownshirt, Sharpton looks for scabs to pick until the blood flows. In his ceaseless quest for media attention, he fuels animosity until it boils over into murderous rage.

When he's ignored by the political establishment, the Rev gets even uglier than usual, threatening demonstrations. Faced with the prospect of a confrontation with any black leader (who has an appreciable following, however lunatic), Democrats invariably cave.

The media fail to hold them accountable. The New York Times piece on the Gore-Sharpton meeting made no mention of Brawley, Crown Heights or Freddy's. Had the story been about Duke and the GOP, each of his offenses would have been covered in detail.

I am sorely tempted to say that whoever the Republicans nominate should be supported if only to keep the party that tacitly condones a homicidal race-hustler from renewing its lease on the White House.

JWR contributing columnist Don Feder's latest book is Who's Afraid of the Religious Right. Comment on his column by clicking here.

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© 2000, Creators Syndicate