Star Parker

I never thought I'd be nodding my head in agreement with Al Sharpton. However, I certainly was when, at the conclusion of his address to the Democratic National Convention, he noted that only in a country as great and free as ours could someone like him run for the nomination for the presidency.

Unfortunately, I had to sit through a whole speech of impassioned distortions and insults to America, Americans and particularly black Americans, waiting for Reverend Al to stumble into something true.

Drawing on his vast foreign-affairs experience acquired on the streets of Brooklyn, Sharpton opened his remarks by criticizing President Bush's foreign policy. It was entertaining to hear the man who achieved fame with the Tawana Brawley charade attack the president for supposedly misleading the nation.

Clearly, Sharpton let our black secretary of state and our black national security adviser off the hook for supposedly misleading the nation on Iraq because surely, in his view, they are just puppets, like all black Republicans, so they can't be held responsible.

My particular concern is the destructive and wrong message that Sharpton delivered to all African-Americans in inner cities around our country who listened to his address. What did he tell them? That government doesn't care about your personal life, your moral life or how you conduct yourselves as citizens and as people. But it is the government's job to "guarantee" that food is in your refrigerator.

This is exactly what a community that is being torn apart by AIDS, illegitimacy, abortion, crime and 50 percent school dropouts needed to hear. Particularly from someone who calls himself a minister.

Sharpton then went on to infer that without political intervention, Clarence Thomas would never have gotten through law school. Another beautiful message to black children. You'll never make it on your own. You're a basket case without government. Don't even believe that that black man who is a justice on the United States Supreme Court is there because of his brains and talent.

Is it any wonder that we have problems in the black community? In the Al Sharpton view of the world, blacks who are making it in our country today fall into two categories: those who are making it because government makes it possible for them to make it, and those who are making it because they have sold out and have been bought off by the white establishment.

The idea that a black man or woman has innate ability and can make it under any circumstances with faith, values and hard work is either incomprehensible to Al Sharpton or an idea that he perceives too incompatible with his career path to be given any credence.

Star Parker

Star Parker is founder and president of CURE, the Center for Urban Renewal and Education, a 501c3 think tank which explores and promotes market based public policy to fight poverty, as well as author of the newly revised Uncle Sam's Plantation: How Big Government Enslaves America's Poor and What We Can do About It.