A report by The Wall Street Journal reveals that when Al Sharpton was unable to attend the funeral of South Africa’s Nelson Mandela, President Barack Obama brought him a memento, a copy of the funeral program, signed in the president’s hand, “To Reverend Sharpton. A fellow warrior for justice!”
According to The Wall Street Journal, the copy hangs on the wall in Sharpton’s Manhattan office.
The conservative website, the Blaze, comments that the memento is a “testament to cozy bonds” between Obama and Sharpton.
Among Sharpton’s opponents, being identified as having “cozy bonds” with the civil rights activist is an indictment. Right wing analysts constantly berate President Obama over his “cozy bonds” with Sharpton.
Sharpton’s opponents have blamed his closeness to Obama for the “re-opening of America’s race wounds.” In an opinion piece published by the Hill, Kate Pavilich expresses the view among Sharpton’s opponents that racial relations were getting better with the election of America’s first black president until the black president’s closeness to the likes of the “tax-evader” Sharpton intruded to disrupt the improving relations.
“When Barack Obama was elected to be the 44th president of the United States, there were high hopes for what he could accomplish. A nation that had made its way past slavery, through a Civil War and beyond segregation was finally going to fully heal as Americans elected their first black president. Sadly, that promise and those dreams never came true. In fact, the opposite has happened. America’s race scars have been cut wide open, and the healing has been replaced with unnecessary and deceitful division. How? Obama’s decision to build a partnership with and lend credibility to one particular person is partially to blame.”
Similarly, New York City police union leaders objected strongly to the “cozy bonds” between Mayor Bill de Blasio and Sharpton, alleging that de Blasio’s “sitting with Al Sharpton was causing divisiveness.”
The president of the Sergeants Benevelont Association union, Sgt. Edward Mullins, reportedly commented on the matter of de Blasio’s perceived closeness to Sharpton, saying, “There’s a saying: ‘Show me your friends and I’ll show you who you are.'”
That police union leaders considered that the relationship between de Blasio and Sharpton should be a major issue for discussion as part of efforts to resolve differences with the mayor following the murder of police officers Rafael Ramos and Wenjian Lius, underscores the accuracy of the Wall Street Journal’s observation that the union leaders regarded the mayor’s relationship with Sharpton as a “form of betrayal.”
According to the former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, “He [Sharpton] is the leading advocate against the police across the country. Every time a policeman is in trouble they see him getting on a plane, then standing next to the family making allegations against the police.”
Giuliani’s comment incidentally suggests why Sharpton might not feel too deeply troubled about the intensity of vitriol that his opponents reserve for him. Sharpton would probably think that his opponents would have loved him for being a less effective “warrior for justice,” as President Obama described him.
But the suggestion that Sharpton is a “warrior for justice” is one that his opponents will scoff at, Sharpton being, in their view, a “race baiter.”
However, the Wall Street Journal article was a profile of Sharpton, tracing his transformation from a “local, sometimes divisive activist” into a “polished insider with a national TV show and a direct line to the White House.”
But Sharpton reportedly described the narrative of his transformation from a radical activist to a “polished insider” as “overblown,” saying, “Even in my rebel days, my medallion had Martin Luther King on it. I didn’t have Che Guevara.”
“I’ve seen a black mayor, a black governor and a black president. So if you want to talk about how I’ve grown, maybe I grew because the city grew, and the country grew.”
But whether some of Sharpton’s opponents who pay tribute to the memory of Martin Luther King would also have reviled the late civil rights leader as a “race baiter” were he alive rather than dead is an interesting question to ponder.