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  Al Sharpton's 'Victimology Hustle'
by Richard L. Cravatts
11
February 2003

A close examination of Al Sharpton's history of race or "victimologist" hustling. 

While Jesse Jackson's political capital has diminished recently because of his personal and professional indiscretions, his diminished capacity for articulating black America's sentiments has created an opportunity for another highly visible, though justifiably suspect, spokesman to usurp Mr. Jackson’s past ability to influence candidates and positions —namely, the Reverend Al Sharpton, who recently announced his Democratic candidacy for the U.S. presidency.

Though Mr. Sharpton's likelihood of being elected is clearly remote, and his candidacy has been termed essentially 'symbolic,' the real question is: given Mr. Sharpton's propensity for grandstanding, bombast, race baiting, and questionable ethical behavior in pursuit of his various causes, what exactly does his quest for the presidency symbolize?

Mr. Sharpton, of course, has built his career singularly by coming loudly and publicly to the defense of those he deems to be victims—of racism, of poverty, of government neglect, of criminal acts. But in serving this sole constituency, he has perpetrated what John H. McWhorter, a black professor of linguistics and fellow at the conservative Manhattan Institute, termed a “cult of victimology” in his controversial book Losing the Race: Self-Sabotage in Black America. According to Professor McWhorter, victimology is "a subconscious psychological gangrene" that, through the efforts of leaders like Mr. Sharpton, “has become a keystone of cultural blackness to treat victimhood not as a problem to be solved but as an identity to be nurtured.”

Thus, Mr. Sharpton’s political currency has increased exclusively by seeking out victims whose situations could be exploited for his personal brand building and status as a player in regional and national politics. The problem, of course, is that Mr. Sharpton’s pattern has invariably been to seek out his victims on the fringes of society and law, frequently in the midst of incendiary social situations, and often with calamitous and tragic results. It is part of what Professor McWhorter calls “the victimologist hustle.”

Widely known is Mr. Sharpton’s role as one of the disingenuous ‘handlers’ of the now-infamous Tawana Brawley, a black teenager who concocted a story of being raped by a group of white men in order to obscure her own misbehavior and escape punishment from an oppressive stepfather.
Mr. Sharpton shares culpability, too, for riots that erupted in 1991 in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, a racially-mixed neighborhood of Hassidic Jews and blacks, after a black child was accidentally killed in an automobile accident involving a Lubavitch Grand Rebbe’s motorcade. Fomented with the vocal complaints and protests of Mr. Sharpton about the injustice of the Jewish “diamond merchants,” neighborhood blacks rioted against Jewish life and property, eventually murdering Yankel Rosenbaum, a young rabbinical student.

That was followed in 1995 with highly-charged protests at Freddy’s Fashion Mart in Harlem, a store—owned by a Jewish proprietor—which was finally burned to the ground, but not before a protestor, urged on by Sharpton’s protests, had opened fire and killed himself and seven others in the store.

Mr. Sharpton’s roles in these events, and his aggressive seeking out of victims to further his calls for justice, are widely known. Less known, and more significant now that Mr. Sharpton wants to be considered as a serious candidate for national office, are some of the other political alliances and victimist relationships he has established in his effort to widen his influence and recognition—leading him to the align himself with an assortment of sociopathic charlatans, criminals, race baiters, and virulent anti-American, anti-white, and anti-Semitic activists.

One uneasy political partnership has been between Mr. Sharpton and Minister Louis Farrakhan, the vitriolic leader of the Nation of Islam. Mr. Farrakhan regularly derides Caucasians as “white devils,” has called President Bush "the leader of the lynch mob," and was widely criticized for referring to Judaism as a “gutter religion” of "blood suckers" who prayed in "synagogues of Satan."

Those less-than-conciliatory attitudes aside, Mr. Sharpton defiantly stood with Farrakhan in 1993 at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, proclaiming: "We will stand together. Not in some private midnight meeting . . . but in the daylight . . . . Don't ask who don't like it; we love it! Don't ask who's mad, we're glad!"
In the 1990s, Mr. Sharpton also formed a close working relationship with the now-defunct New Alliance Party (NAP), led by Dr. Lenora Fulani, a Marxist, pro-lesbian, anti-Semitic and anti-white activist whose insights about global politics include her belief that Jews "had to sell their souls to acquire Israel and are required to do the dirtiest work of capitalism—to function as mass murderers of people of color—in order to keep it."

Co-directing the NAP was Fulani’s mentor and tactician, Dr. Fred Newman, a psychologist whose unorthodox practices included group psychotherapy, mind control, and sexual encounters with patients. Like Mr. Sharpton, Drs. Newman and Felani are admirers of Minister Farrakhan, particularly his anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish inclinations. In a 1992 forum on Black-Jewish Relations, moderated by Sharpton and Newman, the conclusions Newman came to, echoing the conspiracy theories that permeate Farrakhan’s own paranoia, were that "the Jewish community has abandoned the African-American community. The Jewish community has walked out in the middle of the struggle. The Jewish community has lied and we will expose it." Mr. Sharpton frequently used the resources of NAL to promote his own projects, specifically sharing office space with them and using their members to man his Howard Beach marches and Tawana Brawley demonstrations.

Not satisfied with finding suitable victimized parties in his home state of New York, Mr. Sharpton has roamed the world looking for alliances with the downtrodden, including various missions to Haiti, Zaire, Israel, Palestine, and Eatonton, Georgia. In 1999, Sharpton appeared for a rally in Eatonton to protect the ‘civil rights’ of a New-Age, Afro-centric cult, the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors. The Nuwaubians are led by the sociopathic, though charismatic, leader, Malachi Dwight York, whose philosophy is fortified with a curious, surreal mixture of Muslim, Jewish, and Christian beliefs, and peppered with sentiments of black supremacy, and racist and anti-government views. While York called white people "devils" and suggested that they should "go home" to Europe, Mr. Sharpton nevertheless railed against local officials, calling them “oppressors” for having the nerve to close the cult’s nightclub for operating without a license.

Apparently Mr. York’s lawlessness was not restricted to local zoning ordinances. In May 2002, York, along with his “main wife” Kathy Johnson, was put into federal custody after a nine-year battle in state and federal courts; in January 2003, York pleaded guilty to 40 counts of aggravated child molestation, 34 counts of child molestation, one count of child exploitation (all against cult members’ children), and two counts of influencing witnesses.

At his "Redeem the Dream" rally, held in August of 2000 to commemorate Martin Luther King, Jr.’s historic march on Washington, Sharpton affirmed his philosophical support for Louis Farrakhan and permitted a speech by Malik Shabazz, a lawyer with a penchant for paramilitary garb and spokesman for the New Black Panther Party. During his engaging and spirited oration, “I Have A Black Dream,” Shabazz suggested that "for every casket and funeral in our community there should be a casket and funeral in the enemy's community," the enemy presumably being the police, the white establishment, and the American government. And what of those officials and others who had asked leaders to put off the demonstration? According to the insightful Shabazz, those "Uncle Tom, bootlicking, buck-dancing . . . politicians," should be removed from office.

Also present at some of these Sharpton-orchestrated hatefests was Khalid Abdul Muhammad, the now-deceased former spokesman of the Nation of Islam whose hateful speech was so extreme that even the vituperative Farrakhan had to distance himself. Muhammad’s coherent world view included the all-inclusive racist observations that "the white man is not only practicing racism and Zionism and with the prostitution ring, the so-called Jew man with the Jew woman all over the world to make a few dollars. He is also practicing sexism. He's a racist, he's a Zionist, a sexist, and imperialist. He's a no good bastard. He's not a devil, the white man is the Devil."

As Mr. Sharpton moves forward in his political career, either toward the Presidency or as a permanent strong voice for minority interests, he will no doubt continue to address the needs of those in need, many of whom in our midst are true victims. But if he continues to seek out and associate himself with false victims from the hateful, deluded underbelly of American society, he will have squandered his chance to doing something real for those in real need.

Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D., writes frequently on public policy, law, real estate development, affordable housing, and business.
Email Richard L. Cravatts, Ph.D.