Commentary

Sharpton Wants Smollett To Be Held Accountable, Don Jr Reminds Him of Ironic Past

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As the Jussie Smollett case continues to unravel, the African-American actor is facing an unlikely critic: “the Rev.” Al Sharpton.

Smollett is the gay star of “Empire,” who recently alleged that he was targeted in a homophobic assault carried out by supporters of President Donald Trump in Chicago. However, his claims fell apart and it now looks increasingly likely that he hired two black bodybuilders to perpetrate a hoax.

He was arrested and charged with “filing a false police report,” according to Fox News.

Many liberal voices rushed to use Smollett as a way to score political points before the facts came out, only to be reduced to sputtering messes as they scrambled to backtrack.

Surprisingly, however, civil rights activist turned political pundit Sharpton had stern words for the “Empire” star. During his “PoliticsNation” program, which airs on MSNBC, Sharpton called Sunday for accountability if the evidence proves a hoax of Smollett’s own doing.

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“I, among many others when hearing of the report, said that the reports were horrific and that we should come with all that we can come with in law enforcement to find out what happened and the guilty should suffer the maximum,” Sharpton declared.

To his slight credit, the liberal stood firm on that view. “I still maintain that,” he insisted.

“And if it is found that Smollett and these gentlemen did in some way perpetuate something that is not true, they ought to face accountability to the maximum,” Sharpton continued.

But as the president’s eldest son Donald Trump Jr. pointed out on Twitter, the aging civil rights figure may not have much room for indignation. Though it has largely faded from public memory, Sharpton was a key part of a similar race crime hoax back in 1987, when Smollett was only a child.

“Given the irony here of the past, it really says something that Sharpton is ahead of the pack of all the Democratic Presidential Hopefuls in condemning this terrible act of hate,” Trump Jr. posted. “Shocked that after jumping all over it when the narrative suited them now suddenly they wont comment.”

Although he didn’t spell out it directly, that “irony” is almost certainly the case of Tawana Brawley.

“Sharpton is no stranger to racially charged hoax cases,” explained the New York Post gossip column Page Six.

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“In the late 1980s, the then-firebrand local political activist served as the spokesman for Tawana Brawley, a black 15-year-old who claimed she had been raped by six white men upstate,” the paper recounted. “They scrawled racial epithets on her chest and smeared feces in her hair, she alleged.”

There was just one problem. As increasingly seems to be the case with the Smollett “lynching,” it simply never happened.

“The stunning case eventually went before a grand jury — which ruled after seven months that Brawley’s story was a total fabrication,” Page Six wrote.

As a result of that hate crime hoax, both Brawley and Sharpton were ordered to pay damages for defamation. The false victim spent decades evading that order, according to a separate New York Post account. Sharpton too tried to dodge his court-ordered financial responsibility for participating in the scam.

“More than two years after the Rev. Al Sharpton was found to have defamed a former prosecutor in the Tawana Brawley case, the $65,000 damage award entered against Mr. Sharpton by a Dutchess County jury has been paid in full,” reported The New York Times back in 2001.

But Sharpton never personally took a financial hit. “(A) group of Mr. Sharpton’s supporters agreed to pay the judgment for him,” The Times said.

No wonder he’s so gun-shy about being caught up on the wrong side of yet another hoax.

We’d like to applaud Sharpton for being one of the few liberals willing to speaking out against Smollett, but his past behavior means taking anything he says in this area with a massive grain of salt.

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Benjamin Arie is an independent journalist and writer. He has personally covered everything ranging from local crime to the U.S. president as a reporter in Michigan before focusing on national politics. Ben frequently travels to Latin America and has spent years living in Mexico.




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