If Donald Trump attacked Somalian warlords on Twitter, The Atlantic would run a 10,000-word piece explaining why decentralized Somali rule is actually good for minorities. Because it’s no longer sufficient to be a Trump antagonist, no longer enough to stick the word “racist” in every news piece and broadcast; a real patriot embraces all the president’s enemies, no matter how morally loathsome.
Which brings me to the Rev. Al Sharpton. This week, Barack Obama’s “go-to man” on racial issues headed to Baltimore to protest President Trump’s attacks on Elijah Cummings, the Democratic congressman from Maryland. As is his wont — whatever creed, color, or faith his antagonists might be — the president lashed out at those critical of him. “Al is a con man, a troublemaker, always looking for a score,” Trump tweeted about his old buddy. “Just doing his thing. Must have intimidated Comcast/NBC. Hates Whites & Cops!”
Now, one might legitimately be slighted by the president’s attacks on Cummings, but his words about Sharpton are hardly debatable. Trump could have added that Sharpton was an unrepentant anti-Semite who had incited riots that led to a pogrom in Brooklyn and a massacre in Harlem, not to mention the defamation of police officers surrounding Tawana Brawley, whose life, like so many others, he had ruined with his hucksterism. Instead, we had an arms race in crazy.
Presidential hopeful Elizabeth Warren didn’t react to Trump merely by accusing the president of being a bully. She asserted that Sharpton, the man who once claimed Africans had “taught philosophy and astrology [sic] and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it,” had “dedicated his life to the fight for justice for all.”
The moderate hope of the party, Joe Biden didn’t merely accuse Trump of racism, he announced that Sharpton, who had once used the funeral of a child to rail against Jewish “diamond merchants,” was “a champion of civil rights.”
Kamala Harris, another leading contender for the nomination, said Sharpton has “spent his life fighting for what’s right and working to improve our nation, even in the face of hate.” Imagine the partisan cynicism it takes to portray a man who has enriched himself on the suffering of others as a victim. Someone should ask Harris at the Democratic Party debates whether she believes Sharpton was fighting for “what’s right” when he was provoking rioters to loot Jewish stores and murder Yankel Rosenbaum, who was dragged from his car and killed to the chants of “kill the Jew?”
No one will ask. These days, sanctimonious media types brag about their friendship with the man. Not long ago, many of the same Democrats who made a big show of avoiding the tepid moderates at AIPAC had no problem paying personal respects to a man who said the Jewish state was “hell.” Not a single reporter asked them about this odd political discrepancy.
In fact, if Trump ran a 2020 ad juxtaposing the reverend accusing innocent police of gang-raping a teenager with the glowing statements of contemporary Democrats, his opposition would surely accuse him of racism.
Democrats fear the progressive wing of their party far more than their Jewish constituents. For good reason. Reform and secular Jewish leaders — but I repeat myself — have spent decades conflating cultural and spiritual Judaism with left-wing ideology. This tragic degradation of culture has left large parts of our community conflating Jewish values with lockstepping partisanship, or worse, rationalizing the hatred against them in acts of self-flagellation.
So, Democrats, as they did with anti-Semite Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., are free to engage in the practice of praising Trump’s enemies to pander both to their agitated base and their growing Corbynite faction. Democrats have gone from reflexively attacking everything Trump supports — even policies they once backed — to decimating constitutional norms they’re supposedly defending, to championing anyone he attacks.
It wasn’t enough, for instance, for Americans to be offended by the “send her back” chants at a Trump campaign rally. No, Democrats and their allies demand that one must now “Stand With Ilhan,” stipulating that any truly patriotic Trump antagonist has a responsibility to back a terror-apologizing socialist whose values conflict with American ideals. No thanks.
It shouldn’t escape our attention that all this Sharpton praise is happening while there has been a spike in anti-Semitic assaults in New York City. So while Sharpton may have cashed in with MSNBC, his legacy lives on.
Does Trump intentionally single out the worst characters on the left, knowing that Democrats and their allies will rally around them? It’s possible. One doesn’t have to be a cable news analyst to notice the histrionics and overwrought responses to his tweets can often be more unhinged, which is quite a feat. Trump has the power to incite people to argue that Baltimore is really just an idyllic town. I mean, the aquarium, am I right?
Then again, those obsessed with Trump seem to believe all moral currency is derived from what position a person takes on the president. And sometimes, this means propping up anti-Semites as the exemplars of patriotism, I guess.