Black leaders like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson criticize racialing profiling in the legal system, but they espouse the same logic in their own politics.
The good news about Al Sharpton’s “Redeem the Dream” march to end racial profiling is that it was only a modest affair. Its numbers didn’t approach the Million Man March, and the roster of speakers was most notable for its gaps. The bad news is that the event even took place at all. For this was a march that showed just how irrational we have become about race, as a nation, in this fourth decade of the civil rights crusade.
Sharpton held his event Aug. 26 at the Lincoln Memorial with co-host Martin Luther King III, whose attendance was intended to establish a historical link to his father’s speech on the same steps decades before. Sharpton’s aim was to commemorate the victory over government-enforced segregation in the South — and to claim, at the same time, that government racism is as big a problem as ever. But one could hardly imagine a more embarrassing caricature of King’s triumph than this carnival of sham grievances (“Free Mumia!”) and double standards (like the event’s implicit message that white racists are bad, but black racists are OK).
But unlike Martin Luther King Jr.’s great march, which deliberately excluded the Nation of Islam, Sharpton’s platform embraced its leader, Louis Farrakhan, and other black promoters of racial hatred. Speaker after speaker celebrated a totalitarian unity of black organizations — the NAACP and Farrakhan, the National Council of Negro Women and the “New Black Panthers.” There was even an “I have a black dream” speech delivered by Malik Zulu Shabazz, the “Minister of Justice” of the new Panther Party, whose national chairman is the raving anti-white, anti-Jew, anti-Catholic, anti-gay Khalid Muhammad. The message of Zulu Shabazz’s hate-spiked rant? “For every casket and funeral in our community there should be a casket and funeral in the enemy’s community.”
In addition to the lack of reaction to thinly veiled race war incitements, the day’s message was not so different from the thematic slogan of the march: “No justice, no peace” — a threat of civil mayhem that Sharpton has made his mantra (and even flashes on his Web site, directly above a photo of his Democratic booster, Bill Bradley). Farrakhan emissary Ishmael Muhammad appeared at the podium to do a pale imitation of the master, who had sent his “Queen” to represent him. But it was boxing promoter Don King, introduced as “a philanthropist” who best summed up the event: “Only in America.”
Today, this is the “civil rights” movement. The racial arsonists from the Nation of Islam, the Old and New Black Panthers and Sharpton’s own National Action Network were joined at the microphone by Kweisi Mfume, the president of the NAACP; Laura Murphy, the president of the ACLU; Gerald Reed, the national president of Blacks in Government (who told the crowd “privatization is nothing but a plan to eliminate a race from government”); the head of the Urban League, Hugh Price (who was clearly uncomfortable, and spoke for less than two minutes); Rep. John Conyers, the ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee; and Andrew Cuomo, secretary of Housing and Urban Development. And, of course, there was Johnnie Cochran, who told the assembled: “Go and serve on a jury. Somebody who looks like you is on trial and needs you to serve on a jury for them.” Get it, whitey?
All in all, it was a disgraceful day.
However deplorable the march may have been, it was not an insignificant event. Its principal theme, the injustice of racial profiling, has become the principal cause of the civil rights movement, extending up to the highest ranks of government. On the eve of his march, for example, Sharpton met with Attorney General Janet Reno and called for an executive order from the White House to block federal funding for cities that engage in a proven pattern of racial profiling. If elected, Al Gore has promised he will make sure that the first civil rights act of the new century will bring an end to racial profiling.
Too bad Sharpton’s misguided acolytes have failed to find an honest definition of racial profiling. “Study on this issue should be over,” Martin Luther King III proclaimed to the crowd, “the facts are on the table.” Well, not exactly. What the facts tell us is anything but simple.
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