WASHINGTON – Does anyone here remember Tawana Brawley? A generation ago, Brawley, then a Dutchess County teenager, authored a slander that catapulted Al Sharpton to notoriety and national power. Her career shows that some of the biggest lies die quietly.
Brawley’s story, condensed, is that a half-dozen white men repeatedly raped her, scrawled racial epithets on her body and left her in a trash bag.
The 15-year-old African-American’s accusations were going nowhere in 1987 until Sharpton joined her cause as adviser and barker. Brawley still doesn’t admit she lied. But a court ruled that she did, and at last report she is living in anonymity in the Richmond, Va., area working as a nurse.
Tracked down in 2013 by the New York Post, Brawley was making small, monthly court-ordered payments to a man the courts say she slandered.
On the other hand, Sharpton, who has raised racial tensions in many venues, including Ferguson, Mo., has reached a pinnacle of fame. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., for example, attended Sharpton’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. event last week, according to the New York Times. And he is scheduled to speak soon at Oxford University on racism.
Now it appears the nation will have to learn to live with – as in the case of Brawley – two truths on Ferguson: Sharpton’s and the record established according to law by the courts, sworn testimony and competent investigations.
According to multiple reports, the FBI and investigators from the U.S. Justice Department have found there is no civil rights case against Darren Wilson, the white former Ferguson cop who shot and killed unarmed Michael Brown, an African-American, after a street scuffle last summer.
Sharpton, after a county grand jury last November cleared Wilson of wrongdoing, gave a fiery 50-minute sermon in a St. Louis Church, according to the Washington Post. “The fight ain’t over,” Sharpton thundered. “Justice will come to Ferguson!”
The decision by Justice Department aides needs only the approval of Attorney General Eric Holder, who sent 50 agents to Ferguson to build a case against Wilson, and by definition, from President Obama.
Justice for whom? Certainly not the businesses, many minority-owned, that were looted and destroyed. The reported costs of the Ferguson riots, whipped up by imported black “activists,” range from $4 million to $6 million.
Among the many questions for Obama’s last two years is the position of Sharpton at the White House, where Politico reports he has been the president’s “go-to” man on race relations. Two legacies stirred by Sharpton & Co. is that a man may resist arrest with impunity, and that some cities will become even more wasted, and dangerous.
The arrest of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver comes as no surprise. The Buffalo News, doing what very good newspapers do, on Thursday published a list of past elected malefactors as long as your arm. It shows corruption is deeply ingrained in the state’s laws. In his last years as governor, Mario Cuomo repeatedly called for a state constitutional convention to cure the system.
Among the most dedicated opponents of this reform are Silver and his Democrat loyalists. The top objectives should be term limits for all members, particularly those in leadership, strengthened initiative and referendum codes, and open voter affiliations and open primaries.
Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-Manhattan, made a bold gesture recently. He reacted strongly to a right-wing whispering campaign against the appointment of Rep. Andre Carson, D-Ind., a Muslim, to the House Intelligence Committee. Nadler, who is Jewish, said members of Congress “should stand up … to these biased and disgusting comments and condemn them in the strongest possible terms.”