It is time for former House Speaker Newt Gingrich to end his association with Al Sharpton. The two have been appearing together around the country as part of something called the Education Equality Project.
As Dr. Carl Horowitz of our staff has documented in a Special Report released earlier this year, Sharpton has promoted fake hate crimes against blacks, and has inspired racial antagonism against whites and Jews. Indeed, this long-established pattern of behavior continues to the present.
Just last week, the purported victim of a 2007 racially-motivated attack in West Virginia recanted her story that she had been kidnapped and raped in a backwoods trailer by white men. Sharpton had championed her plight, descending on Charleston to lead an anti-hate rally, much as he rallied to the side of the accuser of the Duke lacrosse players in 2006.
Gingrich shares with Sharpton an affinity for the TV camera. Their relationship cannot be based on Sharpton’s sincerity for the cause of educational reform, because he doesn’t have any. As Horowitz meticulously details, each issue Sharpton has embraced, or incident on which he has seized, has resulted in some benefit for Sharpton, in terms of publicity, money, or both. Sharpton’s gains have been at the expense of societal harmony and/or at the eventual expense of individual people he either has put up to making false accusations or falsely accused. Are we supposed to believe that such a destructive personality has now turned to the selfless advocacy on behalf of schoolchildren?
Because Barack Obama, Michael Bloomberg and a host of other politicians shamelessly consort with Sharpton, it doesn’t make it all right for Gingrich to do so. In fact, it is worse. Sharpton has achieved respectability because of a racial double standard that liberals honor and enforce, carried to its extreme. Gingrich knows it is wrong.
The Left sees society in terms of competing ethic and economic groups, rather than an aggregation of individuals. Of course, that is the rationale for restricting personal freedom and an expansion of state power. If a self-proclaimed “conservative leader” is not guided by this reality, he ceases to be either.
Our criticism of Gingrich is not the same as that being lodged by others for his endorsement of ACORN Republican Dede Scozzafava over Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman in the special election in New York’s 23rd Congressional District. Whereas Scozzafava may hold positions at odds with everything Gingrich claims to champion, she has never promoted a hate crime. The worst that can be said is that Gingirch is submitting to political expediency and/or his own bad judgment. His abetting of Sharpton’s legitimacy is simply immoral.
The image of Gingrich as Sharpton’s poodle, tagging along on his latest publicity stunt would be funny if the venue were not public schools. It is tragic that Sharpton is accorded the courtesy of a visiting dignitary in the presence of elementary school children. What message does it transmit to them? It is that America is a racist country, notwithstanding the election of black president, and therefore truth-telling, fair play, and fundamental human decency and can be thrown out the window. Why is Gingrich a party to this charade, the only result of which can be poisoned race relations for many years to come?
Gingrich undercuts our efforts to fight corruption in both the political and corporate worlds.
During the late Eighties, NLPC Ken Boehm and I helped Gingrich expose corruption by then-House Speaker Jim Wright, leading to Wright’s resignation. Indeed, one of the reasons NLPC was founded in 1991 was to continue this kind of work. Sharpton and his groups have been fined $285,000 and had to pay a separate settlement of $5,500, because of Complaints we have filed with the Federal Election Commission. Additionally, Sharpton’s presidential campaign had to return $100,000 in federal matching funds, and was denied $80,000 more for which it qualified.
Sharpton and his group, the National Action Network, have left a trail of unpaid bills, unpaid taxes and financial irregularities, including not one but two mysterious fires that Sharpton claimed consumed financial records. Is corruption now OK with Gingrich?
For several years, we have confronted Sharpton’s corporate supporters like Wal-Mart, PepsiCo, Colgate-Palmolive and Anheuser-Busch through shareholder proposals and public campaigns. We have argued that shakedowns take two parties and big companies should resist Sharpton. Most recently, we asked consumers to contact Sharpton’s supporters in the wake of his successful assault on Rush Limbaugh’s bid to buy the NFL’s St. Louis Rams. Is Gingrich willing to provide any more cover to the corporate cowards who bankroll Sharpton?
photo: AP/Wide World