Al Sharpton. Mr. Respectable

The persistent whitewashing of Al Sharpton’s revolting past will always be a mystery to me. But if we’re to trust Politico’s reporting today, Sharpton has emerged as the go-to civil rights guru for the Obama administration. “If anything,” writes Glenn Thrush, “the Ferguson crisis has underscored Sharpton’s role as the national black leader Obama leans on most, a remarkable personal and political transformation for a man once regarded with suspicion and disdain by many in his own party.”

Draw whatever conclusions you like from this development. But if the point of the piece is to detail the revival of a once-reviled public figure, offering a single purified paragraph detailing the events that first made the man famous seems a bit disingenuous. Perhaps a little more context is necessary for those who didn’t live through his violent circus.

So let’s revisit.