The American Dilemma and How We Can Fix It

Posts tagged ‘Al Sharpton’

THE SHARPTON SHOOTINGS

It would be unfair to lay the blame for the deaths of two officers of the NYPD in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn solely at the feet of Al Sharpton.  There’s plenty of blame to go around among his coterie of haters – including Jesse Jackson, Louis Farakhan – among those who profess to be members of the clergy; and Obama, Eric Holder and Bill de Blasio among those who hold political office.  As to these two murders, while none of them pulled the trigger, they are as guilty as the crazed gunman who did.  We should all wait to see if the president will take time out from his Hawaiian vacation to announce that this was an act of “street violence.”  That it will be labeled for what it is – a hate crime – is totally out of the question.

Those who head up the Obama administration, starting at the top, have long abandoned any pretense of moral decency – if they ever possessed it.  And the president surrounds himself with people who are like minded – Sharpton being at the forefront of that group.  That the man has the effrontery to appear in public with his sordid background of inciting riot and manufacturing stories speaks to the general lack of morals in our society.  That he is part of the inner circle of the president speaks volumes to the level of immorality that permeates the White House.  This administration makes the people of Sodom and Gomorrah look like the epitome of virtue.

This tragedy is truly depressing – but it is unlikely to be the only such episode of its kind which we might expect.  There are a great number of thugs who roam freely in our neighborhoods – and many of them are armed.  And there are a sufficient number of people who will take this as the beginning of a war – and who will be prepared to fire the first shot – lest they themselves become victims.  There are already far too many victims in our inner cities.  And if the police determine that risking their own lives to protect the decent members of those communities from the scum who infest those neighborhoods is too great for them to do their jobs effectively, the number of victims will only increase.  Maybe the contingent of police who guard the mayor at Gracie Mansion should all call in with the “blue flu” to awaken “His Obtuseness” to the realities that exist in the city which he governs.

To the families of the two assassinated officers, I send my prayers and sympathy.  To those in positions of power who have implicitly encouraged this tragedy through their failure to support those in law enforcement,  it’s time to take an honest look at your own behavior.  If you endorse lawlessness, despite your exalted position and the additional protection that you receive thanks to the tax dollars of ordinary citizens, there is no guarantee or surety that any of us will be exempt from similar acts of violence.  That may be the legacy that you will have inscribed in the history books of the United States which will be written, long after all of us have departed this world.

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THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE INDIFFERENT

When “Elmer Gantry” was first published, it created a furor that rippled through the American conscience and through our churches.  The portrayal of a lecherous minister so offended the typical American churchgoer that author Sinclair Lewis received several written death threats.

The message of Christianity is peace.  That message has often been lost to those who claim to be adherents – as must have been the case of those who “in God’s name” threatened the writer’s life.

As we look through twenty-one centuries of history, the church often appears to us to be less a home for saints than a hospital for sinners.  And some of those sinners are in serious need of life support to sustain them.

My father attended church on a regular basis.  But I think that I should hardly describe him as a zealot.  On more than one occasion I heard him say, “Religion has been the cause of more wars than anything else.”  But he would continue by asking the rhetorical question, “Can you imagine, if we didn’t have religion and some belief in a higher moral justice, how barbaric mankind might be?”

There are many people of faith who follow and practice their beliefs in quiet dignity.  We do not hear of them.  They are not the subjects of the evening news and the tabloids take no interest in their lives.  Good new is, in essence, no news.

But bad news is news and bad news sells.  And it would be hard to deny that even more so than when “Elmer Gantry” was published, there is a great deal of bad news to report about the clergy of this country.

I needn’t detail here the list of immoral acts that some clergy have committed as the media have done an excellent job of reporting on those.  Or have they?  Well, they’ve done an excellent job in covering the acts of pedophilia of Roman Catholic priests in a number of American dioceses.  And they’ve monitored the inefficient response of the diocesans in either attempting to cover up those crimes either by transferring the priests in question or by ignoring the problem completely, hoping that it would go away on its own.

Those responses by the hierarchy are both insufficient, ignorant and morally suspect.  But if we didn’t intuitively know that the media have taken great pains to point that out to us – over and over.  Perhaps they consider that their rightful role as the source for reporting on the “new moral justice.”

But this “new moral justice” seems to apply only occasionally and with specificity – targeted not at the clergy “in toto” but selectively.  And interestingly, one might argue, that there are racial overtones both to the reporting and to the lack of it.

If you look historically at both the white and black communities, it would be accurate to say that black Americans saw in religion the hope for a life in a future world far better than they knew in this one and attended their churches more regularly and perhaps with greater fervor than their white counterparts.

The focus of black churches lay more personally in the person of the minister conducting the service than with the priest at the altar.  Any priest would do to execute a “valid liturgy” – but within the black churches people came to hear the preachin’ and to be roused by the Holy Spirit.  No self-respecting black church did not have an adequate supply of “fallin’ out fans” on hand to accommodate the ladies of the congregation when, moved by the Word of God, they came near to fainting.

There is no question that the minister in a black community not only represented an example by which congregants should model their lives but was one of the few success stories to which the impoverished members of his community could look to give them hope.  In today’s parlance, he was a “Big Kahuna.”

If you subscribe to my theory of “selective coverage” by the media it should not surprise you that the scandals which were extensively reported among the more conservative (translation:“White”) churches received that coverage and the appropriate amount of bashing.

But in the more “liberal” wings of the black churches, the misdeeds of ministers have been briefly reported and quietly buried.  Black church goers have, like so many others, been led to the “liberal altar of free stuff” and have greedily drunk from the Kool Aid of a false communion that has been consecrated by their own clergy.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, an aide to the late Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was at one time a fierce and sincere advocate for the black community.  Early in his career he recognized that legalized abortion was little more than a license to minimize the number of black Americans and was, in essence, selective population control.  His opposition to abortion was so fervent that in 1975 he planned on drafting  a Constitutional Amendment banning the practice.

This is a different Jesse Jackson than we see today.  He has had to endure the embarrassment of admitting that he fathered an illegitimate child – an epidemic problem in the black community – but in his defense, he at least made the effort to pay the mother child support.  And he has had to deal with the shame that his son, my former Congressman, now awaiting sentencing together with his wife, brought on the family for the misappropriation of $750,000 in funds raised for his election campaigns.

It was a different Jesse Jackson who in 1969 realized that when he spoke of “us and them” he was not framing that remark as a statement about blacks and whites, because he was a man who preached about reconciliation between the races, but who was talking about those who had economic security and those who lacked it.

“When we change the race problem into a class fight between the haves and the have-nots, then we are going to have a new ball game.”

The truth is that whether or not we agreed with Mr. Jackson back in the ‘60’s, it was hard to argue with his honesty.  Given the one hundred eighty degree changes in his views (and this might be surprising as most conservatives and a fair number of ministers believe that truth is immutable), it is hard to ascribe much relevance to what Rev. Jackson has to say now.

One of Jesse Jackson’s colleagues when they came together in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) was the Rev. Al Sharpton.  Sharpton does not have the baggage of changing his opinions as does the Rev. Mr. Jackson.  He is now and always has seen race as the basis of every inequity which has ever occurred throughout American history.

Sharpton was ordained a Pentecostal minister at the age of ten.  It was at this time that his father abandoned Sharpton’s mother and their children to have an affair with Sharpton’s half sister.

Over the years of his career, Sharpton has, through his National Action Network, promoted organized demonstrations in response to incidents which have occurred throughout America (and most frequently in his native city of New York) where he believes the American judicial system has failed its black citizens.  Of course, the most notable of these has been his recent effort to pressure the Justice Department into further prosecuting one George Zimmerman.

But if we look at the issues that this now liberal Baptist minister has taken on, there is one thing that the objective observer must conclude.  It is that in virtually all of the cases that Mr. Sharpton has championed, there has been no evidence of racial motivation nor has there been any evidence of racially motivated law-enforcement  neglecting the rights of our black citizens.

At some point, we all need to re-read the story of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” and I would offer that to Mr. Sharpton as a summer reading project as well.

Robert Browning penned the words:

“God’s in his Heaven —
All’s right with the world!”

Those either must have been happier days.  Or perhaps the poet’s love for Elizabeth Barrett gave him a rosier view of the world than what most of us held.

The reality that we confront, because we have adopted the morality of secularism, is that in so many ways the people now occupying planet Earth appear to be more dysfunctional than ever.  We have thrown off the old standards and have eagerly stood hours in line to sign up to take the oath that we will adhere to the new ones.  They are far simpler to comply with as there are none.  We shouldn’t be surprised at the results.

Maybe Dad was right.

“Can you imagine, if we didn’t have religion and some belief in a higher moral justice, how barbaric mankind might be?”

Unfortunately, I think we’re all finding out the answer to that question.

ZIMMER WHO?

For the entire duration of the trial of Public Opinion v. George Zimmerman it was impossible for me to look at Yahoo News without finding at least one update on what was happening in the Florida courtroom where Mr. Zimmerman was on trial for his freedom.  Generally, in Yahoo’s “Top Ten Trending Stories” there was some reference or other to the trial.

Today, George Zimmerman didn’t make it to that list.

Being adjudged not guilty certainly has its benefits – although I wonder if there are many who feel this was a miscarriage of justice and who intend to rectify that by personally executing their own form of justice on the now-acquitted Mr. Zimmerman.  Those who hold to that opinion are precisely the people who exhibit the same sort of primitive behavior of which Mr. Zimmerman was accused – and found not guilty.

Needless to say, first in the fray to continue the persecution of Mr. Zimmerman were some notables who are as far to the left as one can maneuver while still remaining on planet Earth.  Al Sharpton expressed his outrage and planned on demanding that Atty. Gen. Eric Holder (himself a man of tarnished scruples) pursue a Civil Rights suit against Mr. Zimmerman.  And, it wouldn’t be a good fashion show without a few white models thrown in the mix so Elliott Spitzer (an attorney who swore to uphold the law and broke it by consorting with prostitutes illegally), had his moment to opine over the “miscarriage of justice” that took place in Florida.

As God is my judge, I don’t know how either of these men, if they have a shred of morality left in their souls, can look at themselves in the mirror and say the things that they say.  If I had either of their track records to my credit I would be looking for the deepest cave in which to hide and pray that no one would ever find me.  The shame of having to face another human being would be more than I could handle.  But I guess we’re all different – or I suppose that’s what “diversity” is all about.

In a recent post I said that I would lay odds of ten to one that Zimmerman would be found guilty – not based on the evidence but on the basis of the kangaroo court of public opinion.  Obviously, I was wrong – but beyond that – (I’ve been wrong many times in my life) – I was shocked, stunned and amazed by the verdict.

Frankly, I was agnostic on the whole trial and never watched one second of it – in the same way I never watched any of the O. J. Simpson trial for the murder of his wife and Ronald Goldman.  I don’t find courtroom melodrama particularly interesting and I have better uses for my time.

But now that the trial is over and the verdict has been rendered, I wanted to sit back and analyze why my belief that George Zimmerman would be convicted was incorrect.  So today I did a little digging and a little thinking.

At some point in the past, I had read that Trayvon Martin who was presented as a candidate for “Choir Boy of the Year”  had a rap sheet.  I easily found that he had been suspended from his high school three times – and, in fact, was on suspension when the tragic incident occurred.  This third suspension apparently stemmed from his violating his school’s “zero tolerance” policy for substance abuse.  Apparently a marijuana pipe and drug residue were found in his possession.

Now much has been made of whether Zimmerman actively “stalked” Martin or whether Martin was the aggressor.  And more has been made of the fact that if both men acted more rationally perhaps this entire sad event might have been avoided.  That second statement is probably true.

But what if Trayvon Martin, in light of the fact that he apparently used marijuana at least occasionally, were under its influence the night he died?  That might account for his acting in a way that George Zimmerman found threatening.  Of course, that is pure speculation – but the thought might have occurred to the jury members as they deliberated Mr. Zimmerman’s fate.

But here are the two reasons that I believe that Mr. Zimmerman – at least based on the evidence presented at the trial – is innocent:

First, the jury, despite all the publicity of this trial and all the pressure they must have felt, rendered their verdict quickly.  I would have expected that a quick verdict would result in Mr. Zimmerman’s incarceration.  That suggests to me definitively that the jurors believed that the prosecution had failed to make their case beyond a reasonable doubt.

Second, the reaction to the verdict was predictable with calls for vigilante justice from certain elements in American society.  I cannot believe that these six women, were unaware that would be the reaction if they found the defendant not guilty.  And that their own safety might well be threatened by those same individuals.  Rendering a verdict of guilty would have been the easy and safe thing for them to do.  Instead they chose to do the difficult and courageous thing.

None of us will ever know what happened the fateful night that Trayvon Martin died.  But what we do know is that a fair trial of the accused was conducted and the jury found him not guilty.  If we believe in the rule of law, each of us needs to accept that and move on.

Otherwise, we follow the same hateful path that organizations such as the KKK walk.

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