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Holder should keep his distance from Sharpton

April 18, 2012|By Michael McGough
  • Too close for comfort? The Rev. Al Sharpton, left, and Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr.
Too close for comfort? The Rev. Al Sharpton, left, and Atty. Gen. Eric H.… (Alex Wong / Getty Images )

I don't often agree with what I read in the National Review, but NR contributor (and war on terror hawk) Andrew McCarthy has a point in a column in which he excoriates Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. for "canoodling" with the Rev. Al Sharpton.

Writes McCarthy: "This week, our esteemed attorney general canoodled with Reverend Al at the annual convention of the 'National Action Network,' home base for the infamous huckster (that would be Sharpton, not Holder -- sorry for any confusion). It is difficult to imagine another attorney general in American history sucking up to such a race-mongering charlatan."

I wouldn't call Sharpton a charlatan.  He  has cleaned up his act since the 1980s when, as my friend Dana Milbank put it in the Washington Post, the preacher "burst onto the national scene as the mouthpiece for Tawana Brawley, a black teenager from Upstate New York who falsely claimed that she had been raped by white men." These days, Milbank wrote, Sharpton "is arguably the most prominent civil rights figure in the country." There are second acts in American lives.

But you don't have to despise Sharpton to wish that Holder had kept his distance. Sharpton has been a leader in seeking "justice for Trayvon Martin," a cause that, for many, assumes the guilt of George Zimmerman. Holder's Justice Department is investigating whether there might have been a violation of federal civil rights law in the incident. Those facts should have counseled Holder to send his regrets to the National Action Network, if only because his presence there gave critics like McCarthy an opportunity to denounce him.


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