Carol Platt Liebau: The Difference Between Revs. Sharpton & Robertson

Sunday, August 28, 2005

The Difference Between Revs. Sharpton & Robertson

Imagine the outcry if the Rev. Pat Robertson had been invited to address Colorado Republicans. Why? Because just this week, he (wrongly) called for the assassination of Venezualan president (and American adversary) Hugo Chavez (and then, quite correctly, apologized).

There is no defending Robertson's remarks or behavior. That's why it would have been a mistake for Colorado Republicans to invite him to give a political address. And if that's true, it's even more wrong for the Colorado Democrats to have welcomed Al Sharpton as their speaker.

Certainly Pat Robertson's remarks about Chavez were wrong. And some have criticized his business dealings in harsh terms. Fair enough. But notice that he's not being asked to headline any Republican events.

Now let's look at Al Sharpton. As the story linked above notes delicately,

[Sharpton's]name has often been linked to controversy.

He’s most famous for taking up the cause of Tawana Brawley in 1987. The then-15-year-old girl claimed she was abducted and raped by six white law-enforcement officers. Critics say Sharpton fueled the racially tense situation by likening prosecutors to Adolf Hitler and charging that then-Gov. Mario Cuomo was linked to organized crime and the Ku Klux Klan.

Within a year of Brawley going public with her story, a grand jury declared her tale a hoax and cleared the officers involved.

In 1995, Sharpton called a Jewish shopkeeper from Harlem a “white interloper.” Several months after those comments — which Sharpton has said he regrets — the man’s shop was torched.

The piece neglects to mention that Sharpton never himself paid the judgment assessed against him in a defamation suit springing from the Brawley case (his friends ponied up the money for him), and he never apologized, either.

There are more examples of Sharpton's wrongdoing than that, as this piece points out, including what sounds like a pretty serious flirtation with anti-Semitism.

The difference between Pat Robertson and Al Sharpton? Aside from the differences in scope, scale and kind of their misdeeds, it's this: The former has no power in his party. The latter, quite clearly, does.


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