With few exceptions, unions are powerful engines of egalitarian policy and its most potent political vehicle, the Democratic Party. As the party platform now heavily overlaps with that of demagogic black identity politicians like Al Sharpton, labor leaders have become prominent supporters of Sharpton and his New York-based nonprofit, National Action Network (NAN). The bond was very much in evidence at Manhattan’s Sheraton Times Square Hotel last Friday afternoon at a panel, “The State of American Labor Unions Today,” one of nearly 30 panels convened during the NAN annual convention held April 13-16. Despite a couple of no-shows, the speakers satisfied the mostly black crowd, calling for more union organizing, more government programs and more activism to counter the "racist" Right.
Al Sharpton, shakedown artist extraordinaire, never has lacked energy in advancing the profile of his New York-based nonprofit, National Action Network (NAN). Thanks to corporations and unions, he isn’t lacking cash either. Last week, during April 13-16, NAN held its annual convention at the Sheraton Times Square Hotel in Manhattan. The fundraising event, featuring speeches by Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, plus nearly 30 panel discussions, gave attendees what they came for: a mix of black grievance politics and socialist economics. If Sharpton’s corporate donors ever take time off from Celebrating Diversity, they might reconsider this odd partnership.
Anyone doubting the influence of the loosely-knit band of demagogues known as Black Lives Matter probably wasn't at the White House last Thursday, where President Obama met with black leaders to discuss race, crime and policing. Among the attendees were Al Sharpton, National Urban League President Marc Morial, Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., and Black Lives Matter activists DeRay McKesson and Brittany Packnett (in photo). Obama invited McKesson and Packnett as a gesture to young blacks. Their inclusion underscores the summit's unspoken assumption: White lives don’t matter.
When the curtain rises on the 88th annual Oscar film awards next Sunday evening, February 28, tens of millions of TV viewers, along with attendees at the Dolby Theater in Los Angeles, will feel extra pangs of anxiety. For the focus this year is as much on race as it is on who will win. From the time of the announcement of the 20 acting nominations on January 14, racial grievance hustlers, from Al Sharpton to Jesse Jackson to scheduled emcee Chris Rock (in photo), have hectored the Motion Picture Academy over the nominees being all white. This, they say, proves racism is rampant and that “reforms” are needed. Don’t believe them. Their facts are selective. And their goals are money and power at the expense of integrity of judgment.
The politics of racial grievance took center stage in 2015. Leading the way was an ad hoc nationwide group known as Black Lives Matter (BLM). Menacing, confrontational and adept in social media, its activists are recruiting blacks, the younger the better, as foot soldiers for disruptive protests rivaling those organized by the master of the trade, Al Sharpton. Like Sharpton, the group claims to seek justice for blacks who have lost their lives at the hands of “racist” white police and vigilantes. And like Sharpton, their style involves character assassination, cause-and-effect distortion, and threats. In recent weeks, BLM activists – there are now nearly 30 chapters – have blocked urban thoroughfares, stormed college campus offices, and disrupted presidential candidate speeches. Woe unto those who fail to meet their demands.
Railroading innocent persons into prison, or extracting outsized settlements from them, is now a defining feature of civil rights activism. The possibility of such an outcome explains why Kendrick Johnson, a Valdosta, Georgia black teen who died in a freak accident at his high school nearly three years ago, has become a rallying symbol for “anti-racist” activists. Johnson isn’t as familiar as the late Trayvon Martin or Michael Brown. But give it some time. From the start, the Johnson family and supporters have insisted, without evidence, that he was the victim of a racially-motivated murder and cover-up. They’ve convinced the Justice Department to search for the “killer,” and with methods that subvert due process. It's only fitting that Al Sharpton, a master of racial hoaxes, has left his mark.
“I want to make a difference” is a common statement of purpose for coming to work in the nation’s capital. Al Sharpton, no stranger to Washington during the Obama years, wants to make a difference. But given his track record, it will be the wrong kind. Last Wednesday and Thursday, July 8-9, Sharpton, under the banner of his New York City-based nonprofit National Action Network, sponsored a “Legislative and Policy Conference” on Capitol Hill. The well-attended event amplified his campaign to expand race-based affirmative action to uncharted areas of voting, sentencing, welfare reform and other policy areas. A parade of guest speakers urged the audience to pressure Congress to act. Like all of Reverend Al’s gambits, the campaign flies under the flag of “justice.” But given the planned core activity – lobbying – he may be skirting the law.
“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree,” goes the adage. In Al Sharpton’s family, the words are doubly true. This past weekend, Dominique Sharpton, the eldest of Reverend Al’s two adult daughters, announced she has sued the City of New York for $5 million over a sprained ankle she sustained last October while tripping over uneven pavement in the middle of a Lower Manhattan street. She claims that she was “severely injured, bruised and wounded” and “still suffers and will continue to suffer for some time physical pain and bodily injuries.” Yet given the outsized award sought, and her seemingly healthy condition only a couple months later, this may be an attempt to game our liability system; i.e., a hoax. And there is another issue: Is dad looking for a cut?
In Baltimore, the ashes have cooled; the curfew has ended; the National Guardsmen have left; and Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have gone home. But the apparent normalcy is misleading. For the orgy of looting, vandalism and arson last week following the death of a black petty criminal, Freddie Gray, may return with a vengeance if the six arrested local police officers, three white and three black, are not convicted. Gray died on April 19 of spinal injuries sustained a week earlier while in custody. Last Friday, State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby announced arrests for one count of second-degree murder and several counts of manslaughter, assault and misconduct. Yet treating this case as a homicide, racially motivated or not, isn't just premature. It's also a capitulation to mob rule.
As our first African-American president, Barack Obama had the opportunity to personify the final triumph of civil rights, and in the process, become a celebrated and historic figure. Instead, his ironic legacy on race is one of abject failure, as the rioting and looting in Baltimore underscore. The tragic reality is that Obama passed on the opportunity to the “post-racial” president he promised to be when he first ran in 2008.