Jonah Goldberg

If he'd been locked up for that, he might not have helped incite the Crown Heights riots in 1991. After a tragic car accident in the New York neighborhood in which a Jewish driver accidentally struck and killed a black child named Gavin Cato, Sharpton stoked anti-Semitic rage. At the funeral for Cato, amidst shouts from the crowd of "Heil Hitler!" (one banner read: "Hitler did not do the job"), Sharpton didn't call for reconciliation; he inveighed against "diamond dealers." During the riots Jews were beaten in the street, and eventually a Hasidic tourist from Australia, Yankel Rosenbaum, was stabbed to death.

Perhaps if he'd been shunned for his role in that, he might not have encouraged yet more violence in 1995, when Sharpton led protests against the eviction of a black-owned record store. Sharpton fueled rage on his radio show and at rallies to the point where one of the protestors ran into a Jewish-owned store whose owner was wrongly blamed for the eviction, shot several people and then burned the place down, killing seven (mostly Hispanic) occupants.

But he was shunned for none of it. Nor was he shunned for his sometimes cavalier compliance with tax laws or his shabby shakedowns of corporations for donations. In fact, in a culture that increasingly rewards shamelessness, Sharpton got in on the ground floor and has been cashing in on his access ever since. The attorney general himself celebrates his "partnership" with Sharpton.

Sharpton is even hailed as an expert on racial tensions, which in a funny way is true. The establishment he constantly seeks to "speak truth" to has enabled him in every conceivable way. He doesn't just have access to his suits, he's been given access to just about everything the 1 percent has to offer, including the very best cigars.


Jonah Goldberg

Jonah Goldberg is editor-at-large of National Review Online,and the author of the book The Tyranny of Clichés. You can reach him via Twitter @JonahNRO.
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