Back in 1987, a crime that put unfathomable pressure on race relations in the United States occurred. Or so we thought. Tawana Brawley, a then-15-year-old black teenager, reported that she was abducted by two white men and dragged into the woods where four other white men were waiting. She claimed to have been kidnapped for four days, and all she could recall was a blond man with a badge and a holster. This would lead to a wrongly-accused police officer and then to an official by the name of Steven Pagones, the Dutchess County prosecutor. After the grand jury found that Brawley fabricated the story, Pagones sued in 1998 and won a defamation case against Brawley supporter and media activist the Reverend Al Sharpton and Brawley. Despite the hoax. the media circus gave life to Sharpton's career and left Brawley with over $400,000 in debt.
Now, 15 years later, NPR reports that Brawley has paid less than 1% of the court-ordered amount that she owes Pagones.
A relative unknown at the time, Al Sharpton had on-the-job training on how to exploit any perceived racial slights and fan the flames of racism in order to profit off of it. After the reverend and Tawana openly accused Pagones of being one of the men who raped her, they lost a civil suit where Shaprton was ordered to pay $65,000 in damages and Brawley $190,000. Brawley had paid a whopping $0 until recently, when her employer was ordered to begin garnishing her wages. Despite being worth an estimated $5 million, these days Sharpton seems to have forgotten his checkbook when asked about the trial. After interest is applied for the 15 years of Brawley not paying her dues, she now owes well over $400,000.
Now one would figure the embarrassment one would receive from jumping out ahead of a fabricated story that would lead to a large civil settlement would be enough to derail Sharpton's future, but sadly Sharpton's mouth would continue to get him in trouble with disparaging comments toward Judaism, homosexuals, and the Mormon faith. Following the Crown Heights riots following the accidental death of a 7-year-old black child at the hands of a Jewish driver, Sharpton was encircled by a mob yelling, "Kill the Jew." Reverend Al sensing a door opening, fanned the flames of racism once again, and said, "If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house." In 1994, Sharpton used the term "homos" when discussing Socrates and the ancient Greeks. During former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney's run for the Republican nomination for President in 2007 Sharpton said, "As for the one Mormon running for office, those that really believe in God will defeat him anyway, so don't worry about that." No one brings the tolerance quite like Reverend Al Sharpton.
It's been two-and-a-half decades since the circus came to town for the Tawana Brawley hoax, and it has been in town ever since. Featuring race-baiting, anti-semitism, homophobia, and questioning the value of other Christian denominations. At a certain point we can no longer buy tickets to see the clown. Resist we much.