The late Michael Jackson, Al Sharpton told CNNâ€™s Larry King last night, â€œexpanded,â€ on â€œa cultural level,â€ the work that â€œ[Martin Luther] King and Jackie Robinson and others had doneâ€ to elevate the status of blacks in American society. â€œMichael made people comfortable with each other,â€ said Sharpton, asserting that, thanks in part toÂ the pop icon’s influence, Americans at largeÂ eventually â€œgrew up to be able to be more comfortable making political and other moves that they may not have made without that cultural comfort.â€
Sharpton’s remarks to King wereÂ an extension ofÂ the eulogy he had delivered earlier yesterday at the L.A. Staples Center, where he proclaimedÂ that Jackson had â€œbroke[n] down the color curtainâ€ and â€œbrought blacks and whites andÂ Asians and Latinos togetherâ€Â — thereby setting the stage for the day when Americans would be â€œcomfortableâ€ enough â€œto vote for a person of color to be the President of the United States.â€
Yes, Al Sharpton chose to turn his eulogy for Michael Jackson into a monologue about race. No surprise there.Â For Sharpton, everything, however grand or trivial, is ultimately about race.
He is, after all, the same Al Sharpton who, in the late Eighties, knowingly abetted a 15-year-oldÂ black girl in falsely charging that a mysterious gang ofÂ white racists had abducted and gang-raped her; according to ex-Sharpton aide Perry McKinnon, Sharpton did this specifically for the purpose of cultivating an atmosphere of racialÂ division that could help him advance what he called his â€œmovement.â€
Yes, we are talking aboutÂ the same Al Sharpton who, a few years after that, helped foment some of the ugliest anti-Semitic riots in living memoryÂ when he falsely depicted a Brooklyn, New York car accident (which had killed a 7-year old black child) as a racially tinged homicide perpetrated by a Hasidic Jew.
He is the same Al Sharpton who orchestrated a grotesque 1995 boycott against a Jewish-owned clothing shop in Harlem, New York, where a throng of black picketers — under the watchful, approving eye of SharptonÂ — shrieked, entirely without cause, that a cabal of â€œgreedy Jew bastardsâ€ and white â€œcrackersâ€ had beenÂ mistreating them. This crusade, too, ended badly, when one of the protesters eventually shot four whites in the clothing shop and then set the building on fire — killing seven people.
And who could forget the skillful manner in whichÂ SharptonÂ has repeatedly turned handsome profits by using threats of racially charged boycotts and negative-publicity campaignsÂ to shake down a host of corporate CEOs eager to avoid controversy.
Indeed,Â he is the same Al Sharpton who once lavished an audience of students and professors atÂ New Jerseyâ€™sÂ KeanÂ College with references to â€œcrackersâ€ and â€œGreek homosâ€ who, from a historical perspective, were still â€œin the caves [of Europe] while we [black Africans] was building empiresâ€ and developing â€œphilosophy and astrology and mathematics.â€
By inviting this vile bigotÂ to speak at yesterdayâ€™s memorial service, Michael Jacksonâ€™s family demonstrated that for whatever gifts and talents they may possess, good judgment is not among them.
The same can be said of Larry King, who, in tortured syntax, concluded his interview with Sharpton by fawning: â€œThere wasnâ€™t anyone there [at the memorial service] today who could not say that you were anything but brilliant.â€