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Update: several commenters have asserted that the claim that Gillibrand promoted English Only policies is false.  Well folks, the proof is in the pudding.  Gillibrand might have scrubbed her own site, but she couldn't scrub that of newspapers which quoted her pre-scrubbed site in January.  The facts are simply what they are:

El Diario also quotes from Gillibrand's Web site, which lays out her positions on immigration thusly:

"In Congress, Congresswoman Gillibrand has been a firm opponent of any proposal that would give amnesty to illegal aliens. The federal government must provide the necessary resources to secure our borders, which is critical for America’s economic and national security.


In addition, Congresswoman Gillibrand believes English should be made the official language of the United States and she opposes providing non-emergency taxpayer benefits to illegal aliens.


I'm going to start this off by saying that I like Al Sharpton and probably always will.  I think that he's done some great things, and I don't think that earlier controversies which might have marked his career are dispositive of his long-term motives and capabilities.

And so in good faith I read, with alarm, the following headline in which Sharpton ostensibly called out racist language and was immediately ready to do a complete about face in terms of any admiration of Congressional Progressive Caucus member and NY senatorial candidate Carolyn Maloney:

Gillibrand-Backing Sharpton Hits Maloney On The 'N Word'

The Rev. Al Sharpton wasted no time in teeing off on Rep. Carolyn Maloney for using a racial slur during an interview with City Hall News, saying her alleged employment of "the 'N' word" is "alarming and disturbing at best."

"What????!!!" I said to myself.  "Have I been leaning towards a senatorial candidate who is a virulent bigot?  She actually used the n-word in an interview?"  

And then I read the backstory, and am now kind of Sharpton.  

Judge the offense for yourselves folks, and determine whether Sharpton has a point, or is grandstanding in service of the NY senatorial candidate and Maloney rival who he has endorsed, former Blue Dog Coalition member Kirsten Gillibrand.

This is the excerpt of the Maloney interview which Sharpton found offensive:

There is Carolyn Maloney, ripping into Kirsten Gillibrand broad and hard for voting against the two stimulus bills and for changing her positions on several core Democratic issues, sounding out her case on the fly as, "It’s the NRA, it’s immigration, it’s all these other things. In fact, I got a call from someone from Puerto Rico, said [Gillibrand] went to Puerto Rico and came out for English-only [education]. And he said, ‘It was like saying n—r to a Puerto Rican,’" she said, using the full racial slur. "I don’t know—I don’t know if that’s true or not. I just called. I’m just throwing that out. All of her—well, what does she stand for?"

Really, Al?  This is supposedly Maloney being a bigot?

Poor Maloney issued an apology, which IMO isn't even warranted, for this trumped-up non-issue:

"I apologize for having repeated a word I find disgusting. It's no excuse but I was so caught up in relaying the story exactly as it was told to me that, in doing so, I repeated a word that should never be repeated."

Hey, Al, on this one, DailyNew's Elizabeth Benjamin speaks for me:

Just so we're clear, Sharpton is not merely an outraged innocent bystander in this case.

He formally endorsed Maloney's likely 2010 primary target, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, last month, praising her "ability to bring people together, listen to their challenges and forge solutions to the problems they face."

Charlie King, who served until recently as the acting director of Sharpton's National Action Network and is still on the organization's payroll as a consultant, is a paid Gillibrand adviser.

We all have our preferences in terms of the best candidate for the NY senate seat.  Let's not get stupid though.  Sharpton's the one who owes an apology.  I'm throwing a flag down on the field for the offenses of Grandstanding and Cynical Misuse of Anti-Racism.  Keep it clean, Mr. Sharpton!

Originally posted to GN1927 on Mon Jul 20, 2009 at 02:20 PM PDT.


Is Sharpton right to be offended?

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| 171 votes | Vote | Results

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