Of preachers, G-men, and wiseguys

Al Sharpton is a ridiculous race hustler, a man who has devoted his career to inflaming communal tensions, profaning the cloth, and vampirically gorging himself on the goodwill of white liberals who desperately want to do right by their black compatriots, and who foolishly assent to his claim to be a definitive spokesman for a monolithic black “community.” (NB: Evil is a lot easier to do on behalf of nebulous collectives than on behalf of discrete individuals with individual tastes, values, and goals.) The FBI is probably better than most local law enforcement agencies, but this truth is shot through with abject moral relativism, as many of its agents are vindictive, power-hungry shitheads enamored of their own powers of entrapment, even if they’re (usually) less ferally criminal under color of authority than their local counterparts and several orders of magnitude less stupid than, say, Cornwall Borough patrolman David J. Troxell. (Come at me, son. The weather here in San Diego is quite pleasant, and you’ll love the way they treat petty tyrants like yourself in Superior Court.)

Enough of the SLAPP bait. What happens when it turns out that Saturday night Al was downtown, workin’ for his FBI? Surprisingly, the outcome was basically morally upright. Fat Albert got mixed up with some mobsters, the mobsters took to talking criminal shit about him to his face, about putting him in concrete boots or some-such, and so he snitched to the federal Five-O. Or, as they’re commonly known, The Man. The G-men, in the grand Stauffenbergian tradition, sent him off to his subsequent meetings with the crime bosses equipped with a special briefcase. HeyVinny, couldja say that again? I didn’t hear ya

Let’s not sugarcoat these wiseguys; they were excellent candidates for a federally funded Appalachian sleepaway adventure. They were willing to make threats against a prominent activist who was lawyered up to the hilt, so it’s safe to assume that they were an even greater danger to less prominent and well-connected private citizens who got in the way of their rackets. Notwithstanding all the bad things that Al Sharpton and the FBI have done separately, what they did together were acts of righteousness. Swing low, sweet chariot, comin’ for to carry Uncle Vinny home to Loretto for the next five to fifteen. It’s always a good thing when active, unrepentant mob bruisers are leavin’,  leavin’,  on that midnight bus to Butner, leavin’ on that midnight bus to Butner

Not that there was anything righteous about how Sharpton got caught up with the mobsters in the first place. What happened was that he went around bellyaching about how the record companies weren’t hiring enough black promoters, and mob goons in the industry got cross with him. Insinuating black people into one of the dirtiest, most cliquish, most influence-peddling, most amoral businesses in the country: this, in his estimation, was the vanguard of civil rights. Surely Martin Luther King, Jr., looked down on the spectacle in admiration, and in bashfulness that he had wasted his moral authority on such trivialities as the unionization of Southern garbagemen. Say: they’ve named a whole bunch of streets after King, and a whole bunch of others after Cesar Chavez, who advocated for (and for a time was one of) a different cohort of America’s untouchables, so when will the right honorable right reverend Mr. Sharpton be so honored? 

God help us when he dies. 

One might think that Sharpton is a fellow who doesn’t know how to pick his battles, having been not only a leading voice crying out in the wilderness on behalf of aspiring music industry sleazeballs but also the primary vector by which Tawana Brawley infected American civics. Not a stellar batting average, it might be said. But that concedes the gentleman far too much in the way of principles and morals. That assumes that he’s well-intentioned but maybe a bit callow about the sheer brokenness of this world and his capacity to heal its people and dry their eyes. LOL. You’d be a n00b to think it. Dude’s been on the scene for decades, occasionally threatened with a spell in the woodshed for his bigotry but always at least in the outer precincts of the Cathedral, and usually in its middle to inner precincts. One does not simply pull off such a sick ongoing stunt, unless one is savvier than one appears. Homeboy is second- or maybe third-tier Inner Party. He got that way by gravitating to “causes” that offer little in the way of rectitude or worthiness but lots in the way of money and exposure. He knows what the hell he’s doing. And that’s the problem.

Paradoxically, white mob organizations historically have a better-than-average record of hiring black employees. They didn’t get that way because proto-Sharptons got up on a soapbox about diversity hires, but because they were too pragmatic to high-hat competent and qualified applicants on account of race: the content of their character, &c. That was one situation in which they were right that it was nothing personal. They were businessmen, and these were business decisions, damn the armchair racists. They probably still are; Al Sharpton’s claims of racial discrimination in the music business were probative of nothing but Al Sharpton’s professed thoughts on the subject.

If anything, the United States is too race-neutral for Al Sharpton. He’s the kind of chap who manufactures racial injustice if he can’t find any lying around in the neighborhood, or if the kind that he can find lying around isn’t lucrative enough for his tastes. If everyone in the country were as free of bigotry as the more openminded sort of mob organization, the reverend would have no market for his tripe and bile. He’d be reduced to yelling his racist sob stories at passersby on the sidewalks in front of Penn Station, along with all the other persecution-complex crackpots.

He’d be exactly where people of his character belong, relegated to his proper station in life. But I’ll say it again: ours is a broken world, and certainly a broken country.

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