Racism is abhorrent. So are shakedown artists who cry racism to rake in cash.
The Rev. Al Sharpton publicly threatened McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski on April 27, using the same language his National Action Network has used for three decades to squeeze cash out of major corporations.
Sharpton referred to “multiple accusations of racial discrimination” by McDonald’s and warned that NAN is poised to mobilize nationally against the company. “You cannot sell Black folks Big Macs and give us little justice,” he said.
Mainstream media glorified this threat, calling Sharpton a “social justice leader.” Race hustler is more like it.
Racial discrimination should be punished to the full extent of the law. But Sharpton isn’t a judge or juror. He uses thuggery, not due process.
Is McDonald’s guilty of racial discrimination? That’s for courts to decide. McDonald’s has been sued by Black franchise owners alleging they were mistreated compared with white owners. But a federal judge threw out one of those lawsuits for lack of evidence in June 2021. Another was dismissed in October 2022.
Sharpton also claims outrage over “the removal of John Rogers, a well-respected business leader for the Black community,” from McDonald’s corporate board. Truth is, Rogers served 20 years and is now retiring. He left at the same time as a white director who also had served that long.
Finally, Sharpton accused the hamburger giant of not giving “Black-owned media” a “fair share” of “McDonald’s supersized advertising budgets.” That charge echoes a lawsuit by Black entrepreneur Byron Allen. The case goes to trial with a jury on May 30. Let the jury decide, not Sharpton.
For many years, corporations have paid off Sharpton’s group to avoid boycotts and rallies outside their headquarters — the same “action” Sharpton’s letter threatens to take against McDonald’s. A $100,000 donation seems cheap compared to the damage he could do.
Sharpton is feared partly because the Democratic Party puts him on a pedestal. Vice President Kamala Harris and nine other senior Biden administration officials — nearly Biden’s entire cabinet — spoke at NAN’s annual convention two weeks ago.
President Joe Biden’s three-minute video last week launching his reelection bid features not one but four images of Sharpton.
As if Sharpton were a national hero. In 1987, Sharpton accused six white men, including upstate New York prosecutor Steven Pagones, of raping Black teenager Tawana Brawley, smearing her with feces and leaving her wrapped in garbage bags. It would have been horrific if true, but a grand jury ruled the charges a hoax, and Pagones won a defamation suit against Sharpton. Even now, Sharpton refuses to apologize, insisting that it wasn’t his job to determine whether the teenager’s story was true.
After the Brawley sham, Sharpton moved to strong-arming corporations. “Al Sharpton has enriched himself and NAN for years by threatening companies with bad publicity if they didn’t come to terms with him,” reported Ken Boehm, late chairman of the National Legal and Policy Center in Virginia.
In 2014, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio celebrated Sharpton’s 60th birthday party at a lavish affair. President Barack Obama sent an aide to read birthday greetings.
Already, the Democratic Party had made him an icon, choosing to ignore the truth. Sharpton personally failed to pay millions in back taxes and routinely stiffed travel agencies, hotels and landlords, reported The New York Times that year. NAN owed years worth of payroll taxes, and was “among the most delinquent nonprofit organizations in the nation.”
Brazenly, Sharpton sold the rights to his own life story to NAN in 2018 to take out another $531,000 for himself.
The tragic death of George Floyd in 2020 raised the nation’s consciousness but also brought flush times for race hustlers. NAN raised a record $11 million that year, and since then Sharpton has doubled his compensation and elevated his lifestyle. NAN forks over nearly $1 million a year for private jets and limos. That kind of luxury spending is taboo for legitimate charities.
Shame on the Democratic Party for empowering Sharpton, who doesn’t represent justice or all African Americans.
Beware of those who demand cash while cloaking themselves in moral outrage.
Betsy McCaughey is a former lieutenant governor of New York and chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths. Follow her on Twitter @Betsy_McCaughey. To find out more about Betsy McCaughey and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website.
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