Al Sharpton’s Seemingly Selfish Agenda Helps Nobody But Himself

al-sharpton-1I’m sorry, but I’ve absolutely had it with Al Sharpton.  I’m sick and tired of every time there’s some kind of incident that could be a racial tragedy, he swoops in to try to get his face on the camera somewhere.

I don’t think he’s really trying to help solve these potential racial injustices.  I think he’s there to feed his own ego and personal agenda.

He’s what I refer to as a “tragedy wh*re.”  Someone who thrives on the public attention that some sort of tragedy brings with it.  You see it often with “famous” lawyers.  Some big national case gets a lot of attention, and there’s Gloria Allred on every news channel you can find.  Because it’s not really about the tragedy itself, but the attention that tragedy might bring them.

Former politicians are just as bad.  Sarah Palin might be the most infamous example of this.  If there’s some kind of tragedy going on in the world, you can damn sure bet she’ll be somewhere blaming it on President Obama.

Well, Al Sharpton fits into this same category.

If there’s publicity to be had from a senseless crime that might involve racism, you can almost damn sure bet Sharpton will be right there trying to pose with the victim’s family on television.  Not because he’s really there to support them, but because it’s a great opportunity to get himself some media attention.

If it’s a crime that gets national attention for its racial overtones, he’s all over it.  But those everyday struggles African-Americans face that don’t make the headlines, well… you really don’t see him around those much, do you?

I’ll always remember back to 2006, during the case involving three Duke Lacrosse players who were accused of raping an African-American woman.  I’ll never forget seeing Al Sharpton on just about every media outlet I came across trying to make the case about racism and how it was obvious that these three men had to be guilty.

Which, of course, turned out to be completely untrue.  The three men were found innocent, the woman’s story turned out to be a lie, but you never saw Sharpton apologize to these three men.  In fact, Whoopi Goldberg called on Sharpton to apologize to the three men, but he refused.  He claimed he never took a side on the case.

Which is interesting, because in this Fox News interview he clearly seems to be indicating that he thought these men were guilty before it ever went to trial.

It was around that point I lost most of my respect for Sharpton.  The fact that he refused to apologize, even when he had been a key figure publicly pushing the narrative against these men, showed what his real motives were.  It wasn’t justice, it was seizing on a racially charged situation for his own desire for attention.

Now, am I saying Sharpton has never done anything good?  Of course not.  I don’t hate Al Sharpton.  I just think it’s time he goes away.  Or at least he needs to focus his attention on the everyday, non-headline making issues facing the African-American community.  Issues like improving education in predominantly African-American schools or the poverty that often plagues many African-American communities.

But those issues don’t get him the publicity he often seems to crave.

Sure, when an African-American man gets killed by police in New York, or this shooting in Ferguson, he’s all over it.  But I never see him standing next to the families for victims like that of Dallas resident Demariea English.  At 20-years-old, he too had his life tragically cut short.   

Or what about this 20-year-old white male police allegedly gunned down in Utah.  Do you think Sharpton will be headed there to console the family?

I doubt it.

And Sharpton seems to not at all care that he’s a polarizing figure.  He doesn’t symbolize a uniting figure in these racially tense situations.  In fact, he typically only helps to divide them.  Is that his fault?  Partially, but not completely.  But you still have to be aware of what type of attention you bring to a situation.  And it seems the reaction many people have when they see Al Sharpton is, “Oh, here we go.”

Because even many liberals I’ve spoken with have grown tired of Sharpton and his obsession with constantly trying to interject himself into any story that might potentially involve racism.

If he wants to help the African-American community, that’s awesome.  Go for it.  I fully believe he can make a difference.  But when you show up at every single story involving race that goes national, that just seems like someone who’s trying to exploit racial tension instead of improve racial relations.

For Sharpton, these tragedies seem to be more about seizing on racial tension while the story is still making the headlines.  Because once all the attention dies down, it’s amazing how you really don’t see him around anymore.

That is, until the next racial tragedy dominates the news.  Then I can bet almost anything he’ll be one of the first faces you see on television.

But my feeling is, if Sharpton wants to help, it’s time he does so behind the scenes.  Dedicate himself to the non-headline getting groundwork of addressing many of the issues that continue to hold African-Americans back in this country.

Because at this point, when Al Sharpton gets involved in these cases involving race, he typically doesn’t do anything but further polarize a situation where people are already divided.

My belief is that true civil rights leaders should seek to unite different races, not exploit the tensions between them.

Allen Clifton

Allen Clifton is a native Texan who now lives in the Austin area. He has a degree in Political Science from Sam Houston State University. Allen is a co-founder of Forward Progressives and creator of the popular Right Off A Cliff column and Facebook page. Be sure to follow Allen on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to his channel on YouTube as well.


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