Tuesday, April 10, 2007

People Who Live in Glass Houses Should Get Dressed in the Basement

(Props to Goldie for the song idea.)

With the uproar over Don Imus, especially by Reverends Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, both of whom refuse to accept his apology and demand his firing, I thought it may be interesting to see if these two stone-casters were without sin. After all, they realize how powerful words are and would never throw them around irresponsibly, right???

"White folks was in caves while we was building empires... We taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it." -- Rev. Al Sharpton in a 1994 speech at Kean College, NJ, cited in "Democrats Do the Dumbest Things

1987: Sharpton spreads the incendiary Tawana Brawley hoax, insisting heatedly that a 15-year-old black girl was abducted, raped, and smeared with feces by a group of white men. He singles out Steve Pagones, a young prosecutor. Pagones is wholly innocent -- the crime never occurred -- but Sharpton taunts him: "If we're lying, sue us, so we can . . . prove you did it." Pagones does sue, and eventually wins a $345,000 verdict for defamation. To this day, Sharpton refuses to recant his unspeakable slander or to apologize for his role in the odious affair.

1991: A Hasidic Jewish driver in Brooklyn's Crown Heights section accidentally kills Gavin Cato, a 7-year-old black child, and antisemitic riots erupt. Sharpton races to pour gasoline on the fire. At Gavin's funeral he rails against the "diamond merchants" -- code for Jews -- with "the blood of innocent babies" on their hands. He mobilizes hundreds of demonstrators to march through the Jewish neighborhood, chanting, "No justice, no peace." A rabbinical student, Yankel Rosenbaum, is surrounded by a mob shouting "Kill the Jews!" and stabbed to death.

1995: When the United House of Prayer, a large black landlord in Harlem, raises the rent on Freddy's Fashion Mart, Freddy's white Jewish owner is forced to raise the rent on his subtenant, a black-owned music store. A landlord-tenant dispute ensues; Sharpton uses it to incite racial hatred. "We will not stand by," he warns malignantly, "and allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business." Sharpton's National Action Network sets up picket lines; customers going into Freddy's are spat on and cursed as "traitors" and "Uncle Toms." Some protesters shout, "Burn down the Jew store!" and simulate striking a match. "We're going to see that this cracker suffers," says Sharpton's colleague Morris Powell. On Dec. 8, one of the protesters bursts into Freddy's, shoots four employees point-blank, then sets the store on fire. Seven employees die in the inferno.

Jesse Jackson, according to Wikipedia has had some less than flattering comments about those Old-Testament Readers, himself: Rev. Jackson has remarked "that he was "sick and tired of hearing about the Holocaust"; that there are "very few Jewish reporters that have the capacity to be objective about Arab affairs"; In addition Rev. Jackson had referred to Jews as "Hymies" and to New York City as "Hymietown" in January 1984 during a conversation with Washington Post reporter, Milton Coleman."

Anyway, I'm not trying to justify what Imus said - just pointing out that his biggest critics are a little bit racist sometimes, too.


Side Bar said...

This is a very fair point that gets only minimal play. I honestly think the Black community has such better spokesmen and women that Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, but the media is lazy. Why work your way though an intelligent, level-headed analysis of an alleged incident of racism when you can just go get a soundbyte from one of the Rev's? Of course, it doesn't help that they are both all too eager to get on the air and offer up those soundbytes, and not eager enough to have a thoughtful, rational debate.

I wonder if anyone has ever commented on this phenomenon before:


I would add Bryan Monroe to the list of people I put on my blog that day. He is the president of the National Association of Black Journalists, and was a guest on Sharpton's radio show the other day. (Kudos, Al). I think that Monroe was fair, tough and, above all, thoughtful and not prone to knee-jerk reactions (though he did get a bit testy when Imus suggested that he (Imus) was doing more about sickle-cell anemia than anyone in the black community, which was kind of an outrageous claim by the I-man) (I am sort of distorting Imus's comment, but it was still kind of ridiculous. If you want, read the transcript of the interview here:


That's all).

ChuckJerry said...

OK, Al Sharpton S-U-C-K-S. He is one of the worst people in the world too. Dom Imus meeting with Al Sharpton about racism is like Osama Bin Laden meeting with Pol Pot so that Pot could deride him over killing innocent people.

Jesse Jackson is not much better, but on a scale is slightly better.

Mike and the Mad Dog, amazingly, had some insight into this today and Mike Francessa (I can't believe I'm saying this) made a valid point. Why is it that Al Sharpton needs to be placated? I'll add to that that Al Sharpton sucks and I hate him.

Unless Imus is going to knock on the door of everyone who was offended by his comments (I don't see him coming up the path right now, for the record) then why rush to Al Sharpton's door. Don't tell me about Al Sharpton being an outlet for apologizing to many when Imus has a radio show that reaches (apparently) millions every day. He's already got an outlet.

Danny G said...

To combine your last two comments, CJ, since he can't apologize individually to everyone that was offended by his comments (except the players on the RU women's basketball team), Imus went on Al Sharpton's radio show presumably to reach a larger group of the audience he offended -- Al's Sharpton's audience/supporters/ those who, in this case, just happen to agree with him -- than he would otherwise reach just speaking to his own fans/audience.

(Since writing the above paragraph, I've re-read Brian's post, read the transcript he linked to and watched tonight's Hardball, with a re-cap of the RU women's press conference from this morning, and an interview with Clarence Page, followed by an interview with Al Sharpton.)

Btw, Clarence Page is an amazing columnist and very thoughtful pundit. If anyone is in the running to take over Ed Bradley's position as the token Black journalist on 60 Minutes, it should be him! He raised the point that Imus is trying to play both sides of the shock jock/serious journalist fence. And that's why he get Russert-types on the show AND gets away with saying shit like this.

Most importantly, I think, is that Page -- who I was fortunate enough to get to have lunch with in November -- had the right attitude towards this thing. He wasn't angry or upset, so much as disappointed. He did, afterall, get Imus to pledge to stop making racist comments about Black athletes and now Imus has clearly broken the spirit of that pledge.

Now, contrast that with Al Sharpton's position, that we, as a nation, need to make the people on the public airwaves accountable for what they say. He kept going back to accountability and rulings about indecency and the FCC. But personally I think that that puts him in the same boat as the Christian Right, getting all upset any time they see a tittie in prime time. (He does have a point that others have been fired for less inflammatory speech.)

Finally, to Brian's point about why he and Jesse Jackson get to be spokesmen on these (or any) issues, I think it has to do with: a) a lack of Black leaders who offer any sort of alternative, in terms of protesting police brutality or civil rights advocacy -- the dominant paradigm through which reporters and hence, the public, see the Black experience in America.

And b) because there is no equivilent to the Anti-Defamation League or GLAAD, for the Black community. As a result, Sharpton, Jackson and others get to be the de facto spokesmen anytime there is some defamation of Black people in the U.S media. Who else, besides maybe Obama after this next election, can even claim a piece of that leadership? (A fact which is as much a result, I'm sure, of the lazy media, as it is anything else, like gov't conspiracies to kill Black leaders. -- Great one, Bulworth!) Now fire me!*********

ChuckJerry said...

Does the NAACP or the Urban League not do the same thing as the Anti-Defamation league or GLAAD?

Danny G said...

I think the missions of the NAACP and Urban League are much broader than simply to combat defamation of people of African descent in the media. Other groups (Gays and Jews to name but two) have organizations soley dedicated to those causes and who drop press releases and get their donors/supporters into a frenzy anytime an Eminem or Mel Gibson says something they don't like.

JG aka Yankel said...

Yankel, the guys name was Yankel.