Skip to comments.Sharpton Annual Conference Again Heavily Corporate-Funded (List provided)
Posted on 04/19/2012 1:35:06 AM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet
Whatever else might be said of Reverend Al Sharpton, when he throws a party, he does it in style. The 14th annual conference of his New York-based nonprofit National Action Network (NAN), held last Wednesday through Saturday in Washington, D.C. (April 11-14), was no exception. Once again, corporations and, to a lesser extent, unions paid most of the tab. And true to form, the conference featured dozens of speakers and panelists echoing the aggressive black-identity politics and culture of their host. The plenary address by Attorney General Eric Holder, followed by a panel on legal issues, amounted to a manifesto for the arrest of George Zimmerman for the highly-publicized February killing, most likely in self-defense, of a black Florida teen, Trayvon Martin. Zimmerman, to the delight of virtually all attendees, was arrested that day on a state second-degree murder charge.
National Legal and Policy Center many times over during the past several years has analyzed the troubling legacy of Al Sharpton, most thoroughly in a 2009 Special Report, "Mainstreaming Demagoguery: Al Sharpton's Rise to Respectability" (see pdf). Since the mid-Eighties "The Rev," as he is known, has amassed a long track record of public demagoguery under the guise of social justice and civil rights. Typically, he serves as an "adviser" to a black family one of whose members is a victim of a crime allegedly committed by a white or group of whites. Most recently, he is assuming this role with Trayvon Martin's parents. This is a major reason why this case has received so much publicity; the parents brought in Sharpton as their "adviser" precisely because of his media-generating abilities. Indeed, all three appeared together on stage on the first day of last week's conference.
In Sharpton's frame of reference, a white individual shouldn't enjoy a presumption of guilt in any apparent crime where the black is a victim. Even if an accused white, by every reasonable appearance, acts in self-defense (Bernhard Goetz), is falsely targeted in a hoax (Tawana Brawley), or commits an honest police error (Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell), accusation suffices as guilt. When a black is accused of a crime against a white, however, Sharpton and his minions will make sure the suspect enjoys a presumption of innocence. Indeed, they will go further, creating a political climate in which it becomes virtually impossible to secure a conviction even if the evidence overwhelmingly points toward guilt (the Central Park pack attack). In each case, Sharpton has displayed an almost preternatural ability to manipulate public opinion with morally-charged incitements. His campaigns on occasion have inspired rioting and murder (Brooklyn's Crown Heights, Harlem's Freddie's Fashion Mart). If the George Zimmerman case goes to trial and the jury doesn't return a guilty verdict, Sharpton in all likelihood will issue tacit incitements for blacks throughout the U.S. to go on a rampage in the name of "justice."
Despite and in some measure because of his track record, Sharpton's standing as a public figure has risen over the years. He ran for U.S. senator from New York in 1992 and 1994, New York City mayor in 1997 (where he very nearly forced a Democratic Party runoff), and president of the United States in 2004. He hosts a popular syndicated daily radio talk show, and beginning late last August, has served as six o'clock news anchorman for MSNBC-TV. His National Action Network conferences in recent years have featured such luminaries as Bill Cosby, Mariah Carey, Martin Luther King III, Magic Johnson, Judge Greg Mathis, various Obama cabinet secretaries, and last year, the ultimate prize, President Obama himself (Obama earlier had spoken at NAN's 2007 conference while as a U.S. senator from Illinois). Sharpton also has reached across the aisle to build friendships with such top figures on the Right as Newt Gingrich, Bill O'Reilly and former Republican National Chairman Michael Steele. Major print media, including Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal, have run recent accounts of a "new" Al Sharpton who somehow has renounced his histrionic past and embraced pragmatism, common sense and empathy. The upshot of this image makeover is that Sharpton, now 57, has become the most influential black civil rights leader in America, even more so than his one-time mentor, Jesse Jackson.
Money, like brinksmanship and media coverage, is a key ingredient in Reverend Sharpton's movement into the American mainstream. Sharpton, like Jackson, instinctively senses that the people running the nation's corporations, labor unions, philanthropies and other organizations can be coaxed into giving him money. All it takes is the right mix of intimidation and flattery. Like Jackson, he sees corporate officials in particular as fearful of boycotts, demonstrations and anything else that could bring bad publicity and undercut profits. Donating to Sharpton thus amounts to a payoff - a civil rights tax, if one will. Sharpton even is willing to accept criticism from generous donors so long as they keep his coffers filled. He noted the irony in an interview last week with the Washington Post: "They bash me at Fox News. But they sponsor my conferences." His comment was all too accurate. Fox News' parent company, The News Corporation, is listed in the program as a sponsor.
That brings us to the issue of the sponsors of last week's shindig at the Washington Convention Center in downtown Washington, D.C. According to National Action Network, sponsorship requires a minimum contribution of $5,000, though a donation can be higher, as much as $100,000. Corporate donors this time included familiar names such as American Honda, Coca-Cola, Ford Motor Company, Home Depot, McDonald's and Wal-Mart, plus recent arrivals such as Facebook and Mars Inc. Organized labor also made itself present in the form of the National Education Association, the International Association of Machinists, the New York-based Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Locals 1199 and 32BJ, and the United Federation of Teachers (New York City's American Federation of Teachers affiliate). The following is a list, in alphabetical order, of all 42 sponsors:
All the Way Foundation, Dennis & Karen Mehiel
American Honda Motor Company
Ariel Investments, LLC
Black Entertainment Television
Ford Motor Company
Human Rights Campaign
International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
Jackson Lewis LLP
National Education Association
The News Corporation
OraSure Technologies Inc.
Perennial Strategy Group
SEIU Local 32BJ
SEIU Local 1199
United Federation of Teachers
The people who run these organizations genuinely believe that by donating funds to National Action Network, they are serving their own interests and those of business generally. We at National Legal and Policy Center believe they are wrong. Contributing money to a Sharpton-controlled nonprofit group merely buys a company time to avoid a potential and highly costly "discrimination" lawsuit. What's more, it sends a signal to racial provocateurs like Sharpton that corporations everywhere are easy marks for shakedowns. Worst of all, it provides NAN with the money needed to carry on its never-ending war in the suites and the streets against manufactured "injustice" with a high degree of visibility and legitimacy.
National Action Network came into being in 1991 and has been holding annual conferences and accompanying "Keepers of the Dream" awards ceremonies since 1999 (Note: This year, the Keepers of the Dream banquet is being held separately from the conference in New York City, this evening on April 18). Nobody is disparaging Sharpton's right to hold these events. But what is little short of alarming is why dozens of major organizations, especially corporations answerable to shareholders, feel such a need to pay for them. Dues-paying NAN members and other individuals should be covering all expenses.
What a shakedown artist! He’s better than Jesse ever was.
Why doesn’t he put a little of his blackmail money into his Action Network headquarters in the Bronx? When I go to Yankee games I pass that disaster of a building and am amazed it hasn’t collapsed on his volunteers.
You beat me to it but I will add it anyway too...
This is not true. This is extortion money . It is as simple as that. Read Shakedown about Jesse Jackson. This money is paid to keep the Civil Rights people and the anti-discrimination people from targeting the companies.
It is a cost of doing business in America today. Nothing more, nothing less.
We live in an age where a degenerate crook and all-around louse like Sharpton is afforded the patina of respectability by groups who are either partners to this scum or too stupid to know what’s going on.
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