Liturgy and LifeAugust 22, 2017
Countering “Fake News” With the Good NewsAugust 22, 2017
PHOTO: Tony Perkins and Al Sharpton (YouTube Screenshots)
Who is the real Minister of Hate? Tony Perkins or Al Sharpton? Both are ordained ministers—Sharpton was ordained at the age of 9—and both have addressed the controversy over Charlottesville.
Perkins wants both sides to take a pause, and recommends a Day of Prayer. Sharpton wants all public funds to stop paying for the Jefferson Memorial, saying “you’re asking me to subsidize the insult to my family.”
The media would have us believe that Perkins is the Minister of Hate. They cite the organization that he directs, the Family Research Council, as a hate group. The evidence? It is so listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center . Its evidence? The Family Research Council supports marriage, properly understood, and opposes gay marriage. That puts Perkins in the same boat with the Klan.
I know of no hateful comments ever made by Perkins, but there is a long list of hateful speech, well documented, made by Sharpton.
Sharpton cut his teeth on hate. In 1987, he took up the cause of Tawana Brawley , a teenage girl who said she was raped by white boys. She said they forced her to perform oral sex on them, urinated into her mouth, smeared feces on her, and covered her chest with racial slurs. It was all a lie. A grand jury heard exhaustive evidence, and concluded that Brawley’s account was a hoax.
Sharpton not only defended Brawley, he accused an assistant district attorney, Stephen Pagones, of being one of her assailants. Pagones sued Sharpton for defamation, and a court agreed with the attorney, ordering Sharpton to pay him $345,000 in a settlement. To this day, Sharpton has never apologized.
In 1991, Sharpton attacked Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn, calling them “diamond merchants.” What occasioned this anti-Semitic outburst was the tragic death of a young black boy by a Hasidic rabbi’s motorcade. Sharpton responded with vitriol, saying “if the Jews want to get it on, tell them to put their yarmulkes back and come over to my house.” A few days later an innocent Hasidic Jew visiting from Australia was beaten by a black mob and stabbed to death.
In 1995, a large black landlord in Harlem, the United House of Prayer, raised the rent on a store, Freddy’s Fashion Mart, owned by a Jew. The owner, in turn, raised the rent on his subtenant, which was a black-run record store. Sharpton whipped up a crowd of protesters saying , “We will not stand by and allow them to move this brother so that some white interloper can expand his business.” Freddy’s was subsequently torched, killing seven employees, most of whom were Hispanic.
In 1998, Sharpton embraced Khalid Abdul Muhammad , a former aide to Louis Farrakhan. Sharpton’s hero hated Catholics and Jews, and was said to be planning a rally in Harlem, even though he did not have a permit. I joined Jews, and others, in a counter rally, held at Sylvia’s restaurant in Harlem. I denounced the bigot as “a gangster” and the “Imperial Wizard” of the black community. Sharpton stood by this maniac, even though Farrakhan did not.
In 2007, Sharpton attacked the religion of presidential candidate Mitt Romney. “As for the Mormon running for office” he said, “those who really believe in God will defeat him anyways, so don’t worry about that; that’s a temporary situation.”
Nothing that Tony Perkins has ever said or done comes close to Sharpton’s legacy of hate, yet in the eyes of the media—which takes its left-wing cues from the Southern Poverty Law Center—Perkins is the problem, not Sharpton.
One more thing. Sharpton is not subsidizing the Jefferson Memorial, or anything else: he owes millions of dollars in back taxes , something he has been able to get away with for decades. Anyone else would have been thrown in jail a long time ago, but he is the darling of the media, especially MSNBC. They make sure that the real Minister of Hate is given a pass.
Bill Donohue is President and CEO of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, the nation’s largest Catholic civil rights organization. He was awarded his Ph.D. in sociology from New York University and is the author of seven books and many articles.