It’s not often that I read a story for a second time. But when I saw that Al Sharpton was coming to Fairfield and would appear at the Mount Calvary Baptist Church, I was stunned.
I think I can say without fear of contradiction that Sharpton is at or near the top of the list of polarizing public figures in the United States. As far as I know, the “Reverend” Al has never repented, apologized or recanted his support for Tawana Brawley, who charged three white law enforcement officials with rape.
I doubt too many people have forgotten the story, but you may remember that a black teenager claimed that she was repeatedly raped by two police officers and an assistant district attorney. There were some additional disgusting details to Brawley’s allegations, which received considerable media attention, much of which featured Sharpton. As you know, Brawley’s story was totally false, and because of his involvement in “smearing” Steven Pagones, the assistant district attorney of New York’s Dutchess County, Sharpton was ordered to pay him $65,000.
Two questions should have been answered before an invitation was offered to Sharpton. Why did he support and publicize Brawley’s story, knowing that it wasn’t true? Equally important, why has the Reverend Al never apologized for his lethal fabrications that could have ended Pagones’ career in the justice system? Perhaps Sharpton’s talk at Mount Calvary Baptist Church would have told us whether his sentiments have changed from those he freely shared early in his career.
What we have to ask, or rather the folks at Mount Calvary should have asked, is how could someone who has expressed such ugly, derogatory sentiments be invited to speak?
Some of us would also like to know if Sharpton was the first choice to speak by the group that invited him. Was he invited because of his talent as a speaker, because he was also a man of the cloth, or, and I hope this isn’t true, because they were flattered and honored that Reverend Sharpton would actually be their guest? Unfortunately, since his visit was canceled, we may never learn more about the “real” Al Sharpton.
I should confess that, as a Jew, I’m particularly sensitive to Sharpton’s anti-Semitic remarks that were part of his speaking portfolio before he became famous, or rather notorious.
Am I leaning too hard on Sharpton because of what he said years ago? No, it’s because there’s not a scintilla of evidence that his “philosophy” is any different today. It would be nice if someone in the Fairfield audience asked him if his sentiments had changed, or, even better, if he’s sorry about his role in the Tawana Brawley hoax.
There are some wounds that time does not heal.
Bud Stevenson, a retired stockbroker, lives in Fairfield. Reach him at Bsteven254@aol.com.