Al Sharpton’s name loomed large over the Trayvon Martin controversy, invoked as a sort of racial bogeyman in any insinuation of racial discord.
In American political culture, Al Sharpton has emerged as a sort of white-people code for imagined black anger, called a “huckster,” a “race baiter,” a “race hustler,” and any other number of terms to indicate that white people are often still really, really uncomfortable about admitting racial disparities in the U.S.
Whenever Trayvon Martin’s name was mentioned, Sharpton’s wasn’t far behind, whether or not he was germane to the topic at hand. And for those who felt unpleasant white people feelings about the case, Fox News was at the ready with a bevy of hosts insisting that the outrage over the unarmed teen’s death was a simple conspiracy between Sharpton, President Obama, and Eric Holder to make black people and white people mad at each other and… profit?
Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and former Fox star Glenn Beck have all expressed repeated distaste for any advocacy on behalf of Trayvon Martin, and Sharpton cracked and lashed out at conservative pundits at large over the continuing backlash.
After right wing pundit Rush Limbaugh said that if “any race of people should not have guilt about slavery, it’s Caucasians,” Sharpton went HAM, saying:
“Now, even for Rush, that’s a new low. A cynical display of willful ignoranc. It’s an insult to their own listeners the kind of way that they are ducking and avoiding and trying to play distractions.”
Sharpton also targeted Bill O’Reilly, for blaming racial injustice on black families — he said:
“Bill O’Reilly last night on his show, he returned to his favorite argument that the real problem in America is the black family… [Conservative pundits] will not deal with the question of inequality. They only want to deal with anything other than the fact that we still have a challenge of racial injustice and profiling in this country.”
During the Politics Nation segment, Al Sharpton urged viewers not to “let these right-wingers tear us apart.”