- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 20, 2000


First, it was Tawana Brawley whose story about smeared feces, rape and assault at the hands of white policemen in upstate New York turned out to be a lie whom The Rev. Al Sharpton championed. Unabashed at later revelations about the story's fraudulence, Mr. Sharpton, along with Robert "Sonny" Carson, went on to agitate the black community of Crown Heights, where days of violence in 1991 against Hasidic Jewish residents culminated in the murder of Yankel Rosenbaum. In 1995 came the move on Freddy's Fashion Mart, where Mr. Sharpton cheered on and participated in two months of protests against the Jewish-owned Harlem store. This ended with the torching of the store, killing five young Hispanic women and a black security guard trapped inside. After a tragic police shooting last year left Amadou Diallo, an unarmed Guinean immigrant, dead in the Bronx, Mr. Sharpton convinced the bereaved family to cancel a scheduled meeting with New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, subsequently kicking off weeks of mass protests against the mayor and the New York Police Department. Now Mr. Sharpton is considering the cause of Hillary Rodham Clinton's Senate candidacy.
Joining a processional of Democratic officials seeking Mr. Sharpton's favor, Mrs. Clinton just made a Martin Luther King Jr. Day pilgrimage to the National Action Network, Mr. Sharpton's Harlem headquarters. Calling for more affirmative action and a higher minimum wage, Mrs. Clinton told the crowd what it wanted to hear. In her remarks about "the tragic murder of Amadou Diallo," however, Mrs. Clinton crossed way beyond the line of campaign promises. When asked whether she would recommend federal intervention should a jury acquit the four policemen who have yet to come to trial, Mrs. Clinton signaled her willingness to trump such a verdict, replying, according to a New York Post reporter, "If there is a role for the federal government, I will certainly urge and encourage that that occur."
Mrs. Clinton's appearance immediately followed that of The Rev. Charles Norris, a leader of the Sharpton-run organization, who told a heartwarming tale about his having been unfairly fired from a job where he had become fed up "working for those two Jews." Mrs. Clinton may well have said later that she "soundly reject[s]" such "divisive remarks," but the fact is, this sort of ugliness and this was mild stuff is commonplace with the group Mrs. Clinton is so ardently courting.
As senator, "I would want to be defined as someone who unites, not divides," said Mrs. Clinton, staking out from her place on the podium alongside Mr. Sharpton, a rhetorical realm beyond parody. Things got still curiouser, as they say, when Mrs. Clinton, listing opportunities she said were too often denied to minorities, mentioned home-mortgage loans. As noted by columnist Andrea Peyser, Mrs. Clinton said that many blacks "can't get a loan for the home they dream of, they can't get the credit. There are too many places where a white person got an advantage" including, perhaps, those two white persons from the White House who recently found themselves on the receiving end of a more than generous $1.7 million home loan and favors from a rich Democratic fund-raiser.
Mrs. Clinton is hardly a lone political pilgrim seeking Mr. Sharpton's blessing, as noted here recently. Those dueling Democrats, Al Gore and Bill Bradley, in their ongoing game of top-this, both displayed their Sharpton seals-of-approval at the Iowa presidential forum this week. Asked whether they would meet with Mr. Sharpton, Mr. Gore replied that he already had, at least in a group, while Mr. Bradley said that he'd already paid a personal call to Sharpton headquarters last year.
By bowing to Mr. Sharpton as kingmaker in New York circles, these three prominent Democrats have surely signaled that racial unity is not what their campaigns are about, not by a long stretch. Mrs. Clinton came, she hugged, she pandered, thus rendering the act of Mr. Sharpton's political beatification by the Democratic Party all but complete. Shame on her.

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