Call Al Sharpton a radical. Call him a hero. Call him divisive. Or call him an acitivist. Regardless of your opinion of Al Sharpton, the recent cartoon in Investors’ Business Daily's editorial section is appalling.
The newspaper directly presses on the slowly healing wound of a time in American history not easily forgotten. I am talking about a time, when in the 19th and 20th century, thousands of African Americans were lynched. That said, the newspaper's cartoon is derogatory because it specifically utilizes a crude historical backdrop rooted in racism.
Known for its conservative tendencies, the business newspaper sought to express its displeasure with the national response to the Zimmerman verdict by depicting one of the most tragic crimes committed against blacks in the past century. The cartoon shows certain events in which Al Sharpton has been actively involved.
In showing the lynching of the "truth," the newspaper was clearly trying to indicate their discontent with the actions of Sharpton, yet the analogy is extremely offensive. Another conservative paper, The National Review, also ran the image as their "Cartoon of the Day."
The instances shown in the image, Tawana Brawley, Crown Heights, and Freddie's Fashion Market, were all controversial affairs in which Sharpton inflamed racial tensions. In 1987, Tawana Brawley claimed that she had been raped by six white men, some of who were police officers. When all of the suspected rapists were acquitted by a grand jury, Sharpton accused the prosecutor of being a racist and one of the perpetrators himself. Ultimately, it was discovered that the story was fabricated by Brawley. The two other events also ended in controversy: a riot in Crown Heights and a fatal shooting at Freddie's Fashion Mart.
The two newspapers can comment all they want about Al Sharpton's actions but to utilize the horrific image of lynching as their metaphor is simply wrong. When such ghastly acts have marred our history, it is senseless to display an image that has represented the epitome of racism in America.