President Donald Trump took a pounding at the service for Aretha Franklin. The Rev. Al Sharpton took Trump to task for supposedly demonstrating a lack of respect by saying, "She worked for me on numerous occasions." Other speakers took shots at the president either by name or by implication for his supposed racism and bigotry.
Onstage, in the front row, sat Sharpton, Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, the Rev. Jesse Jackson and former President Bill Clinton, all of whom know a thing or two about racism and bigotry. Their careers depend on exaggerating the extent and the impact of anti-black white racism.
At a rally in Harlem in 1991, Sharpton said, "If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house." A few days later, a young black boy was accidentally killed when struck by a car driven by a Hasidic Jew. For three nights, Jews in Crown Heights were subjected to what one Columbia University professor called "a modern-day pogrom" in which two people died and almost 200 were injured. On day two of the riots, Sharpton led a march of about 400 protesters in Crown Heights, shouting, "No justice, no peace." Days later, Sharpton referred derisively to Jews living in Crown Heights as "diamond merchants." A few years later, Sharpton called whites moving businesses into Harlem "interlopers."
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Sitting next to Sharpton at Franklin's funeral was Farrakhan, whose hand Clinton shook. As recently as February 2018, Farrakhan said: "Jews were responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out, turning men into women and women into men. White folks are going down. And Satan is going down. And Farrakhan, by God's grace, has pulled the cover off of that Satanic Jew, and I'm here to say your time is up. Your world is through."
Sitting on Sharpton's other side was Jackson. In 1984, in what Jackson thought was an off-the-record conversation, he referred to Jews as "Hymies" and New York City as "Hymietown." A Washington Post reporter, Milton Coleman, reported Jackson's use of the slur. At first, Jackson denied it. Farrakhan threatened Coleman – a black man – by saying, "If you harm this brother, I warn you in the name of Allah this will be the last one you harm."
This brings us to Clinton, who sat next to Jackson. Clinton, according to "Game Change," the well-received book about the 2008 presidential campaign, contacted Sen. Ted Kennedy to seek his support for Hillary Clinton's candidacy. "A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee," Clinton said of then-presidential candidate Barack Obama. Offended, Kennedy told a friend about what he considered Clinton's racist put-down.
These four onstage – Farrakhan, Sharpton, Jackson and Clinton – have earned a nice living promoting the bogus anti-black-white-racism-remains-a-serious-problem narrative. But at the funeral, one pastor dared to point to the elephant in the room.
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The Rev. Jasper Williams Jr. of Salem Bible Church in Atlanta said in his eulogy: "Where is your soul, black man? As I look in your house, there are no fathers in the home no more." He said children need both a "provider" and a "nurturer." He criticized the Black Lives Matter movement: "It amazes me how it is when the police kills one of us we're ready to protest, march, destroy innocent property. We're ready to loot, steal whatever we want, but when we kill 100 of us, nobody says anything; nobody does anything. Black-on-black crime, we're all doing time. We're locked up in our mind. There's got to be a better way. We must stop this today."
The pastor, who decades earlier gave a eulogy for Aretha Franklin's father, got hammered for choosing such a time and place for this "put-down." Even members of the Franklin family rebuked Williams. It is one thing to turn the memorial into a Trump-bashing festival, but a sermon that includes an admonition about accepting personal responsibility, well, that tears it.
Pastor Williams later defended himself, saying, "I'm sure much of the negativity is due to the fact that they don't understand what I'm talking about." He means that many are unaware that almost 70 percent of black kids today are brought into the world by a mother and father who aren't married. That is about 33 percent higher than the percentage of Hispanics and almost 2 1/2 times the percentage of whites.
Williams said: "Anybody who thinks black America is all right as we are now is crazy. We're not all right. It's a lot of change that needs to occur. This change must come from within us. Nobody can give us things to eliminate where we are. We have to change from within ourselves."
Excellent advice. Perhaps Messrs. Sharpton, Farrakhan, Jackson and Clinton were listening.