Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

You know cons, Al

So one of the benefits of ignoring the cable news stations yesterday is that I missed out on the bogus controversy the Romney campaign cooked up over Al Sharpton, which is of course tactic-driven more than anything else. When your candidate is taking a pounding over truly bizarre comments, it's time to go to town on Rev. Al, who clearly loves the attention. Republicans love nothing more than their faux victimhood, which seems to be the main reinforcement mechanism in that party these days.

It both saddens and, at times, amuses me to listen to some of my fellow whites get all outraged about Sharpton, especially suburban whites who clearly don't understand much about New York and really don't understand anything about race relations there. I didn't really understand much about Sharpton myself until late last year, when the incredible blogger Steve Gilliard posted this:
What people need to understand is that Sharpton has both a broad base of support and a great deal of respect. If people think his views are unrepresentative, they are delusional. While I make no excuse for his antics with the Dems or his hotel bills, there is a simple reason that he can still command respect among black New Yorkers.

It's because when things get tight, he doesn't run.

He stood by the Central Park Jogger defendents long after the case was no longer news. And he was vindicated as DNA cleared them. This took ten years.

While most people see the Tawana Brawley case as an abuse of power, many black people think she was raped by the police and it was covered up. So when the badly conducted libel trial took place, Sharpton was given credit for sticking up for her. Yes, he libeled innocent men, but what black women took away from that was that he refused to toss her under the bus.

Given the history of black women in this country, it's not a small deal. So while people are still ouraged by it, more than a few black people still believe she was telling the truth. So when white people bring this up in outrage, it means nothing. The effect of whites saying that as an allegation against Sharpton makes them look racist in many eyes. It is not an argument which has any validity.

I personally thought her story was bulls*** and that the lawyers should have never thrown her on TV. I don't think they treated her very well. But politically, I think that whites think that it kills his credibility and for many blacks, she's a victim denied justice.
Now, one doesn't have to agree with Sharpton, and one doesn't have to agree with Gilliard, but most people can surely see the misguided game the conservative blogs and outlets are playing here. If they didn't have Sharpton they would have to invent him.

To his credit, Romney seemed somewhat restrained in his comments. That being said, it's not, by and large, Democrats who would refuse to vote for him because of his religion, it's the Protestant evangelical base of the GOP. So all the noise about Sharpton isn't going to amount to much in the long run, other than to reinforce already existing assumptions some whites have about Sharpton.

Who knows, maybe Glenn Beck can attract more than 90,000 viewers with Sharpton's help.

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