Friday, January 16, 2009

Amen, Rev. Al

An Anti-Semite. A racial arsonist. Race-hustling charlatan. Irrelevant. The black equivalent of Richard Nixon and Pat Robertson.

Over the years, the Rev. Al Sharpton has been called a lot of things. He's even been stabbed in the chest.

But no one can ever accuse him of being a coward. And that's why, to me, Sharpton still occupies a meaningful perch in American political discourse. Maybe it's precisely because he's unelectable that he has the freedom to lead the fight where others, like our president-elect, are gun-shy.

Via TNC and Adam Serwer, here's Sharpton talking about something that surely won't draw any attention - or cameras - from CNN or FOX News:

"I am tired ... of seeing ministers who will preach homophobia by day, and then after they're preaching, when the lights are off they go cruising for trade...We know you're not preaching the Bible, because if you were preaching the Bible we would have heard from you. We would have heard from you when people were starving in California - when they deregulated the economy and crashed Wall Street you had nothing to say. When [accused Ponzi scammer] Madoff made off with the money, you had nothing to say. When Bush took us to war chasing weapons of mass destruction that weren't there you had nothing to say.

"But all of a sudden, when Proposition 8 came out, you had so much to say, but since you stepped in the rain, we gonna step in the rain with you."[...]

"There is something immoral and sick about using all of that power to not end brutality and poverty, but to break into people's bedrooms and claim that God sent you. It amazes me when I looked at California and saw churches that had nothing to say about police brutality, nothing to say when a young black boy was shot while he was wearing police handcuffs, nothing to say when they overturned affirmative action, nothing to say when people were being [relegated] into poverty, yet they were organizing and mobilizing to stop consenting adults from choosing their life partners."


No doubt, Sharpton is an easy target for his many critics: he's still rocking a conk, prone to saying stupid things and, yes, an opportunist of the highest order. If Sharpton was seeking the role of the leader of Black America, then I suppose he failed - unless you're talking with Bill O'Reilly.

But that in no way should diminish some of Al's more meaningful work from his national pulpit. I've never known him to back down, even in the face of insurmountable odds. Sharpton is a complicated, if not courageous man. And we shouldn't forget that.

Serwer says: "It takes some courage not to take that for granted and to challenge people, knowing how many of them will disagree with you."



Jack T. said...

Every blog needs to keep talking about this until one of the big media outlets covers it. It helps no one but the Magic Underpants people to see this fight devolve into a black folks v. LBGT situation.

blackink said...

Right-on, Jack T. This is the civil rights issue of our generation, and I'll always feel very passionately about this.

Like I've said in the past, I do not want to be on the wrong side of history on this one.

I also meant to blog about this weeks ago, but I've been recommending that everyone see "Milk." Great film. Sean Penn was just, wow.

Jack T. said...

I haven't seen Milk, but we studied the Twinkie Defense in law school. I'm going to see it this weekend amidst the Obamapalooza madness though.

And I agree about history, but most importantly, I just feel like this is the right thing to do. And a coalition of young folks, progressive older folks, and LBGT folks could be a force for good in this country.

But primarily I'm just geeked that a black preacher stood up and dropped some REAL TALK on people.

blackink said...

You know, the story of Dan White - is an extremely interesting one. I've been doing some reading on that cat. There's a story that I was reading about him and his assistant - if I ever find it, I'll post the link as an update.

And, yeah, I'm glad that Rev. Al stepped up and called folks out. We need some more like him. In fact, I've been sorta joking with some folks in my fam (Prop 8-friendly, I'll call them) that the First Lady and I are going to have a civil union and not a marriage. I mean, if it's the same thing, what's the big deal?

You should see their reaction.