CNN commentator steps in it big time with Al Sharpton comparison to U.S. Capitol riot

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A contributor to CNN was mocked online after he suggested that Fox News hosts and Republicans would have reacted differently to the U.S. Capitol Building riot if it had been incited by the Rev. Al Sharpton.

“Imagine this scenario,” Keith Boykin wrote on Twitter. “Rev. Al Sharpton holds a rally and tells his supporters to ‘take back’ their country with ‘strength’ and ‘combat.’ Then, five people die after Black Lives Matter activists storm the U.S. Capitol. How would Fox News and congressional Republicans respond?”

Multiple Twitter users were quick to point out that in fact, Sharpton had a leading role in causing deadly riots in the historic Jewish neighborhood of Crown Heights in New York City in August 1991.

“There were so many other people you could have picked for this hypothetical that would have made the point you wanted. You picked a guy who actually incited a murderous riot. I’m sure you realize this now. But Jeez,” columnist and American Enterprise Institute fellow Jonah Goldberg responded.

Another user tweeted a screengrab of a New York Times report providing details of the incident.

Others chimed in as well.

Reports from the period noted that Sharpton regularly incited violence against Jews using anti-Semitic language and blaming them for oppressing blacks. Just a few days before rioting began in the neighborhood, he reportedly said, “If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house.”

Three days of rioting began with the beating death of Yankel Rosenbaum after his vehicle struck another and then jumped a curb, hitting two black children who were playing on the sidewalk. One of them — Gavin Cato — was killed.

It culminated in the torching of Freddie’s Fashion Mart, in which seven people were killed after Sharpton and Sonny Carson led a mob through the streets of the Crown Heights neighborhood chanting and carrying anti-Semitic signs while burning an Israeli flag. By the time the riots subsided, hundreds of police officers and civilians were injured, dozens of vehicles burned, and several stores were looted and burned.

“Based on everything we have seen and read, Sharpton never called upon the rioters to stop their anti-Semitism-inspired violence. He never called on the rioters to go home. To the contrary, he stirred them up. And three days of anti-Semitic violence became the Crown Heights riots,” Norman Rosenbaum, Yankel’s brother, and Isaac Abraham wrote in the New York Daily News August 24, 2011 on the 20th anniversary of the riots.

In their column, both men blasted Sharpton for giving what they described as an “egregiously distorted and sanitized” recounting of the riots at the time.

“Sharpton says that with the virtue of hindsight, he would have done some things differently – stating that ‘we,’ meaning protesters, ‘should have expressed more clearly’ ‘the precious value of Yankel Rosenbaum, who was killed by a mob that night.’ He says, ‘I would have also included in my utterances that there was no justification or excuse for violence or for the death of Yankel Rosenbaum.’

“But he does not outright apologize for his conduct. And his conduct was reprehensible,” they added. “Sharpton’s revisionism only serves to perpetuate the fallacy that the riots erupted organically from some underlying ongoing issues between the African-American and Jewish communities of Crown Heights. In other words, that profound tensions were boiling just beneath the surface and were suddenly unleashed by the tragic death of Gavin Cato.’

“That is simply untrue. The riots were the product of anti-Semites taking advantage of the tragic death of a child to justify inflicting their violence on innocent people – the Jewish community of Crown Heights,” they noted, “and murdering Yankel Rosenbaum, a Jew from Australia, amid the cries of ‘Kill the Jew!’”

Several Fox News hosts immediately condemned the Capitol riot, as did congressional Republicans, including President Trump.

Jon Dougherty

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