Thursday, August 14, 2014

Remember Al Sharpton

For all of his squishiness in recent years, Al Sharpton is doing the Lord's work in Ferguson right now, and it's the exact same thing he has been doing for decades: rallying the black community against an obvious injustice.

Anyone who has paid any attention to Sharpton's career knows that there is nothing at all unusual about this, and indeed, at this point the unusual thing would be if he didn't show up given the magnitude of the events in Missouri.

But what is unusual, once you notice it, is the almost absolute radio silence among his critics in the Republican party. Just do a quick Google search and you'll find an endless parade of grievance among GOP crackers about Sharpton's "race-hustling" during the Jena Six or Trayvon Martin controversies - just to name two. Look at his actual involvement in those cases, however, and you'll see him doing exactly what he's doing right now.

The point is worth making because the silence isn't gonna last. It's just too embarrassing to come after Sharpton while he's standing shoulder to shoulder with grieving parents against Ferguson's hyper-militarized goon squad; it's obvious that Sharpton's on the right side of history on this one, and no one in their right mind is going to take him on while everyone's paying attention.

But give it a few weeks, and the GOP will weave this one back into a vague narrative of Sharpton as an opportunity who allies himself with shady criminals and radicals. Republicans won't explain what exactly changed between now and then - they'll just appeal to some common-sensical perception of Sharpton as some sinister guy whose ideas about race should never be taken seriously.

So watch what Al Sharpton's doing right now. Remember it when Republicans change the story. And ask yourself, "Just how much of the history of black activism in the United States even remotely resembles the story that Republicans tell us today?"