It is difficult to imagine what the family of 17-year old Trayvon Martin must be going through right now. As the media circus show goes on, and questions of mishandling by the police mount, a desire for retribution and justice must be coursing through their veins.
Unfortunately, this environment is offering the perfect opportunity for unscrupulous media figures to swoop in like vultures and draw attention to themselves as they piggy-back their own political agendas onto grief-stricken families and torn communities.
(Enter Al Sharpton)
Yes, if ever there were a race-baiting, attention-grabbing political opportunist, it’s Al Sharpton. The list of examples is long, but here are a few cases of special notoriety:
Tawana Brawley – In 1987, Al Sharpton propelled himself to national prominence by taking up of the cause of Tawana Brawley, a young African-American girl who accused six white men of raping her. By the time a jury determined that Brawley had fabricated her entire story, Sharpton had so maliciously slandered several of the accused men with racial epithets that he was successfully counter-sued for defamation.
Crown Heights Riot – With ethnic tensions already dangerously fraught, riots erupted in the Brooklyn, N.Y. neighborhood of Crown Heights after a Jewish man accidentally struck and killed a black child with his car in the summer of 1991. Never one to let a good crisis go to waste, Sharpton spoke at the boy’s funeral, referring to the “diamond merchants right here in Crown Heights,” and also led a march during the race riots that followed in which stores were looted, Jews were beat in the streets, and one Jewish student was fatally stabbed.
Duke Lacrosse Scandal – In a similar case to Brawley, a young black stripper claimed she was raped at a party by Duke University lacrosse players in the spring of 2006. Never one to be deterred by past experiences, Sharpton heroically mounted his race-baiting horse, declaring on national television that there were “certainly a lot of racial factors,” and “racism that’s in the air” involving the Duke players. After the allegations again proved to be fabricated, Sharpton was actually called out by Whoopi Goldberg on The View. Goldberg called upon Sharpton (alas, to no avail) to apologize for slandering the Duke players.
What is more surprising than Sharpton’s habitual need to interject racial division in the midst of crisis and tragedy, is the media’s eager willingness to continually provide him with a megaphone to do it.
You would think the media would practice more discretion in a highly sensitive and volatile case like Treyvon Martin’s than to call upon man who has referred to Socrates and his peers as “Greek homos,” or asked fellow blacks to refrain from buying fried chicken from “Chinamen”.
But then again, when was the last time the mainstream media failed to disappoint our expectations of solid journalism and human decency?
The sad reality of young Treyvon’s death is that race may indeed have played a factor in either the killing, or, more likely, in how the case was handled by police. Time and evidence will tell, and when it does, we as Americans should demand appropriate justice.
Last week, Sharpton swooped into Sanford, Fla., the town where this tragedy unfolded, to headline a rally where he demanded “Arrest Zimmerman Now!,” calling for the incarceration of Trayvon’s accused killer George Zimmerman.
However, what a hurting family, a torn community and a watchful nation do not need during tragedies like these is the presence of a microphone in front of charlatans like Al Sharpton with a sorry track record of exploiting the situation as they pursue their own political agendas and fan the flames of racial tensions.