How Al Sharpton Abandoned Africa’s Slaves
Originally published on the American Thinker
August 17, 2019
Dr. Charles Jacobs
The pre-eminent African American economist Glenn Loury recently wondered in the New York Times why leading Democrats would defend Al Sharpton, a man who is a blatant anti-Semite, an anti-white racist, and, to many, a simple con man. But they do. Joe Biden calls him “a champion in the fight for civil rights.” Elizabeth Warren says “he has dedicated his life to the fight for justice for all,” and Kamala Harris lauds him as a man who “has spent his life fighting for what’s right.” Records show that President Obama had Sharpton visit his White House 118 times.
This, after Sharpton’s many outrages: the Tawana Brawley rape hoax of 1987, the anti-Jewish Crown Heights riots of 1991, and the firebombing of a Jewish-owned Harlem fashion boutique in 1995 — all in significant part incited by Sharpton.
Whatever their reasons, the Democrats want to forget Sharpton’s incendiary role in the 1991 anti-Jewish riots in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn after an Orthodox Jewish driver accidentally hit and killed a young black boy at night. Almost immediately afterwards, an Orthodox Jewish rabbinic student from Australia, Yankel Rosenbaum, was beaten and stabbed to death by a gang of around 20 black youths shouting “Kill the Jews!” Sharpton spoke at the funeral of the boy struck by the car, raging against the Jewish “diamond merchants” and their “apartheid” ambulance service. In the aftermath of the murder, Sharpton led marches in the streets in which chants of “Kill the Jews!” could be heard again.
Any one of these things, as Loury suggests, should have disqualified Sharpton from national platforms, or from any praise by Democratic Party leaders. But there’s something else, something no less repugnant, and perhaps even more shocking, that should obliterate once and for all the perception of Al Sharpton as a tough-guy black leader who just never buckles when he’s defending his race.
Al Sharpton is betraying black people currently enslaved in Africa. He went there. He spoke to them. He promised the slaves he met that he would awaken American blacks to their plight, but then he abandoned them. He abandoned them, I believe, because they are enslaved by Arab Muslims, whose causes are embraced and protected by people Sharpton needs or fears. A review of just how this came about should be instructive.
In 2001, as Sharpton contemplated a run for president in the 2004 election, he made a trip to Sudan to verify reports of the ongoing enslavement of Christian blacks there by Arab Muslims. Reports were emerging of Arabs from northern Sudan raiding black Christian villages in the south of Africa’s then-largest country, killing the men, and capturing the women and children as slaves. Full disclosure: At the time, I headed a movement to educate the public about modern-day slavery. We worked with the human rights organization Christian Solidarity International, which over the years redeemed tens of thousands of slaves in Sudan who were returned to their villages.
To be fair, Sharpton’s 2001 trip to Sudan required courage. He flew with CSI leaders into a war zone on one of CSI’s regular slave redemption missions to see and talk to the slaves. The mission was protected by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), a black militia defending southern villages against an onslaught that had over the years killed millions and enslaved tens of thousands. An onslaught that the Islamist rulers in Khartoum designated a jihad. Sharpton witnessed hundreds of slaves being liberated and was appalled. He said it was “outrageous that no nationally known civil rights group has gone over to Africa to criticize what is happening there.” He met with slave women, who showed him their scars from being beaten and raped. One asked him if the world knew of her people’s suffering; Sharpton replied, “They don’t know now, but they will soon.”
There was speculation that Sharpton not only used this trip to launch his presidential campaign, but also to climb to the top ranks of black American leadership. Indeed, he took a subtle shot at Jesse Jackson, who had been silent about slavery in Sudan for years.
When Sharpton returned from Sudan he met with senior members of Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam. Farrakhan had been vigorously denying that Arabs were enslaving blacks. His mission is to convince American blacks that Islam is the path to authentic freedom; it would be damaged by living and breathing proof that blacks are enslaved and slaughtered in African countries where Islam dominates. Even worse for Farrakhan than human bondage in Sudan is the case of Mauritania, where black Muslims, who had been converted to Islam centuries ago, are nevertheless enslaved by Muslim Arab-Berbers. Think “Black Muslim slaves.”
Indeed the mounting reports of Arab Muslims owning, breeding, and torturing black Muslims with impunity may have pushed Farrakhan into an unforced error: As reported by The New York Times, when he was cornered at a televised press conference and pressed by a reporter about his silence on the current-day enslavement of blacks, Louis Farrakhan grew visibly angry and challenged the gathered reporters. “If slavery exists,” he shouted, “why don’t you go, as a member of the press?! And you look inside of the Sudan, and if you find it, then you come back, and tell the American people what you have found!” The editors of The Baltimore Sun took him up on his challenge and sent two reporters to Sudan, where the reporters personally purchased the freedom of two black Christian slave boys. Three months later, the Sun published a Pulitzer Prize-nominated account of their trip. Clarence Page, the Chicago Tribune’s resourceful black editorialist, who had written about a billion-dollar “loan” to Farrakhan by Libyan dictator Qaddafi for the purpose of fomenting a revolt among black soldiers in the U.S. armed forces, now taunted Farrakhan to respond to the Sun report. But the leader of the Nation of Islam fell silent.
One can imagine Sharpton, upon his return from the slave liberation trip in Sudan, being read the riot act by the Farrakhaners: “You want to help the damned Jews?! You want to divide the black community?!” In any event, Sharpton reneged on his promise to the freed slave woman that he would make sure black Americans learned about the plight of her people. He organized no one to liberate the slaves.
When he did speak about it, he suppressed — as the Farrakhaners would have wanted him to do — the central fact of human bondage in Sudan, a fact that he saw with his own eyes: that the slaves were captured in an Islamic holy war, explicitly described as such by Sudan’s Islamist rulers. “Our position is that slavery is wrong, no matter who the slave master or the slave is,” he said in the wake of his newly adopted understanding. “This is not about Muslims vs. Christians. This is about right vs. wrong,” he added. The Crown Heights Jews, of course, could only have prayed for such absolution. For them, even a tragic driving accident was, in Al Sharpton’s eyes, all and only about blacks versus Jews.
In 2017, after ignoring Africa’s slaves for many years, Sharpton returned to the issue. The occasion was a CNN report on Arabs in Libya capturing and selling African migrants as slaves which featured a video of an auction where a man was sold for $400. This raised eyebrows in the black community, and Sharpton announced his decision to lead a delegation of black clergy to Libya to learn more about the slave trade there. For whatever reason, Sharpton never actually went to Libya, but he did meet with Libya’s U.N. ambassador Elmahdi Elmajerbi to discuss the problem — and made sure to get the photo-op. Just as with his trip to Sudan, however, Sharpton’s ire quickly faded and once again the slaves went down the memory hole.
Today, in five African countries — Sudan, Mauritania, Libya, Nigeria, and Algeria — Arabs and Muslims have black slaves. These are known realities, easily documented.
Sharpton and Farrakhan have ignored or denied the current-day plight of black people who are taken as slaves because of the color of their skin and/or their Christian faith. They do so in order to not upset their Islamist and “progressive” allies (and funders?). And they do so to keep “America’s racism” a singular and unique focus, the benefits of which would be lost to them if blacks here knew that today, sadly, in some parts of the Islamic world, African men, women, and children are still in bondage, captured, bought, and sold as chattel.
Al Sharpton had the chance to marshal the power of America’s black American community to help free today’s slaves. That power, political and moral, has been won with courage, persistence, and volumes of blood. It is evoked in the example of Harriet Tubman, a run-away slave who took her life in her hands to sneak back into the South to bring more of her people to freedom. She explained, “I have heard their groans and seen their tears, and I would give every drop of blood in my veins to free them.” Al Sharpton heard the groans of enslaved black Africans, saw their tears, and then, seeing the way the wind was blowing, ran away.