"Meet the Press" host David Gregory asked his panel "where civility has gone in our public discourse." Incredibly, one panelist urged people to be more "mature" and not "poison the atmosphere."
I say "incredibly" because this panelist was none other than the race-hustling, anti-Semitic "civil rights activist" and MSNBC talk show host, Al Sharpton. For some reason, Sharpton's own struggles with civility never came up. Nor did any panelist behave so rudely as to bring up Sharpton's role in one of the most hideous, disgusting and cynical uses of the race card this side of the O.J. Simpson case. And Sharpton, unlike Rush Limbaugh, refuses to apologize.
While this raises little or no concern to MSNBC or its advertisers, Sharpton became famous by falsely accusing a white man of raping a black teenage girl. Tawana Brawley, then 15, told authorities that white racists abducted, raped and sodomized her -- scrawling the initials "KKK" on her in human feces.
A grand jury later found the entire incident a complete hoax. This did not stop the Rev. Al Sharpton, who had accused Steven Pagones, then an assistant district attorney in Duchess County, N.Y., of the crime. After Sharpton's accusation, Pagones received death threats, and his young daughter was later threatened.
"We stated openly that Steven Pagones did it," said Sharpton. "If we're lying, sue us, so we can go into court with you and prove you did it. Sue us -- sue us right now."
Pagones did sue.
A jury unanimously concluded that Sharpton defamed Pagones, ordering Sharpton to pay him $65,000. The Reverend promptly and publicly said he did not intend to pay. Later, when Sharpton decided to run for president, the outstanding defamation debt became a political problem. So Sharpton's one-percenter buddies passed the hat and paid off his debt, which by then totaled $87,000 with interest and penalties.
Civility, Rev. Al? In 1989, a young white woman, dubbed the "Central Park jogger," was monstrously raped and nearly beaten to death. Sharpton insisted -- despite the defendants' confessions -- that her black attacker-suspects were innocent, modern-day Scottsboro Boys trapped in "a fit of racial hysteria." Sharpton charged that the jogger's boyfriend did it and organized protests outside the courthouse, chanting, "The boyfriend did it!" and denouncing the victim as a "whore!"
Sharpton appealed for a psychiatrist to examine the victim, generously saying: "It doesn't even have to be a black psychiatrist. ... We're not endorsing the damage to the girl -- if there was this damage." (The convictions of the accused were eventually vacated, despite their taped confessions, after another man -- whose DNA matched -- confessed to the rape in 2002.)