Sunday, August 1, 2010

Al Sharpton owes six innocent men an apology

Newsweek's love-fest cover story about Rev. Al Sharpton pulls back the scab on the Tawana Brawley false rape allegation. I won't chronicle what happened in that case except to remind our readers that a 170-page Grand Jury report concluded that Brawley was not raped by six white men in 1987 as she, Sharpton, and others claimed.

But Sharpton still isn't apologetic. Here's what Newsweek wrote: "To this day [Sharpton] refuses to repudiate Brawley—long after a grand jury concluded that she had invented the rape charge, and after a local prosecutor whose name was dragged into the case won a defamation suit against Sharpton."  And:  "It is his refusal to apologize over Brawley—or to pay the defamation judgment, which was eventually settled by donations from wealthy friends—that still haunts his reputation among white Americans of a certain age. Tempting as it must be to put the matter behind him, Sharpton still answers questions the same way, without apology, but artfully framing the issue in the way most favorable to him. 'I listened to the child, and I believed her,' he says. 'When I hear that people are still mad at me about this case, I want to ask them, "Have you ever been asked to help a child that’s been hurt?" I don’t apologize for anything I did to help her. Judge me the way you will.'”

Rev. Sharpton might trade in racial divisiveness, but we don't.  Our problem with Sharpton is his gross irresponsibility for accepting the word of a rape accuser because he "listened" to her and "believed her."  By accepting the word of a rape accuser, Sharpton at least impliedly publicly branded the men she named as rapists.  We would feel every bit as outraged if Sharpton supported the accusation of a white woman who falsely accused black men.

Such an accusation by anyone, much less a community leader, does a grave disservice to the presumptively innocent. The stain of a rape accusation is nearly impossible to undo to begin with.  For someone in Sharpton's position to join in the witch hunt on a matter so terribly serious was not just irresponsible, it was downright hateful. Beyond this, Sharpton trivialized rape by including among its victims a woman who was a false accuser.

The problem with Sharpton is, he still doesn't get it.  He asks, "Have you ever been asked to help a child that’s been hurt?"

But that's just it, Reverend.  She wasn't hurt.  It was Brawley who hurt six innocent men.  And you continue to hurt them by declaring that you did nothing wrong by supporting her.  That attitude bears no relation to any form Christianity I know of. 

Al Sharpton, you owe six innocent men an apology.