Social justice activist and MSNBC host Al Sharpton testified on Thursday before the House Judiciary Committee as an “expert” witness on policing practices in the United States, but when a Republican congressman from Florida asked about a resolution submitted in 2000 by former Rep. Joe Scarborough, now one of Sharpton’s fellow MSNBC hosts, the hearing quickly unraveled.
When given a chance to asked Sharpton a few questions Thursday, Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) pulled out a copy of Scarborough’s House Concurrent Resolution 270 “Condemning the racist and anti-Semitic views of the Reverend Al Sharpton,” which Scarborough submitted to the Judiciary Committee back in March of 2000 (full text below).
“Mr. Scarborough’s resolution began by saying, ‘Whereas the Reverend Al Sharpton has referred to members of the Jewish faith as “bloodsucking [J]ews”, and “Jew bastards”,'” Gaetz read. “My question to you is does Mr. Scarborough’s assertion that you said these things, is that true or did you not say those things?”
“They are patently untrue,” said Sharpton, clearly agitated by the question.
As Sharpton and Gaetz begin to talk over each other, Committee Chair Jerry Nadler (D-NY) sided with Sharpton, saying since “aspersions” had been cast against him, he should be allowed to speak.
“No, I’m sorry, Mr. Chairman, aspersions weren’t cast,” countered Gaetz, noting that he was asking Sharpton if the claims in the resolution submitted by Scarborough were true.
Appearing to be increasingly annoyed, Nadler brought the gavel down again, this time with a little more force, and again gave the floor to Sharpton.
“The answer is no, that was not true,” said Sharpton of the infamous comments. He then noted that he and Scarborough are now colleagues at MSNBC.
But Gaetz wasn’t done. He then asked Sharpton about the resolution’s assertion that he “has referred to members of the Jewish faith as ‘white interlopers” and ‘diamond merchants,'” a reference to inflammatory rhetoric Sharpton made amid the ultimately deadly Crown Heights riots.
“No, sir,” said Sharpton. “I referred to one [Jewish man] in Harlem, an individual, who I didn’t even know was Jewish, as an ‘interloper,’ and said I never should have referred to his race.” He went on to explain why he cited “apartheid diamonds” in his famous comments at a funeral in Crown Heights.
Gaetz went on to ask Sharpton about more of his past statements documented in the resolution, eventually stating, “Reverend Sharpton has come before the House Judiciary Committee as a purported expert on policing. Yet his bigoted statements undermine the bipartisan work we should be doing to ensure that all citizens are able to come together and have safe communities.”
Sharpton swiped back at Gaetz, stating, “Yelling, and getting upset is beneath your office. You should calm down.”
At one point, Democratic Florida Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee interrupted to declare the questions an “outrage.” Nadler condemned Gaetz’s questions as “obnoxious,” but admitted that he had to allow him to ask his questions.
Below is the full text of Scarborough’s House Concurrent Resolution 270 “Condemning the racist and anti-Semitic views of the Reverend Al Sharpton” submitted to the Judiciary Committee on March 8, 2000:
Whereas the Congress strongly rejects the racist and incendiary actions of the Reverend Al Sharpton;
Whereas the Reverend Al Sharpton has referred to members of the Jewish faith as “bloodsucking [J]ews”, and “Jew bastards”;
Whereas the Reverend Al Sharpton has referred to members of the Jewish faith as “white interlopers” and “diamond merchants”;
Whereas the Reverend Al Sharpton was found guilty of defamation by a jury in a New York court arising from the false accusation that former Assistant District Attorney Steven Pagones, who is white, raped and assaulted a fifteen year-old black girl;
Whereas, to this day, the Reverend Al Sharpton has refused to accept responsibility and expresses no regret for defaming Mr. Pagones;
Whereas the Reverend Al Sharpton’s vicious verbal anti-Semitic attacks directed at members of the Jewish faith, and in particular, a Jewish landlord, arising from a simple landlord-tenant dispute with a black tenant, incited widespread violence, riots, and the murder of five innocent people;
Whereas the Reverend Al Sharpton’s fierce demagoguery incited violence, riots, and murder in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York, following the accidental death of a black pedestrian child hit by the motorcade of Orthodox Rabbi Menachem Schneerson;
Whereas the Reverend Al Sharpton led a protest in the Crown Heights neighborhood and marched next to a protester with a sign that read, “The White Man is the Devil”;
Whereas the Reverend Al Sharpton has insulted members of the Jewish faith by challenging Jews to violence and stating to Jews to “pin down” their yarmulkes; and
Whereas the Reverend Al Sharpton has practiced the politics of racial division and made inflammatory remarks against whites by characterizing the death of Amadou Diallo as a “racially motivated police ‘assassination”’:
Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring),
That the Congress–
(1) condemns the practices of the Reverend Al Sharpton, which seek to divide Americans on the basis of race, ethnicity, and religion;
(2) expresses its outrage over the violence that has resulted due to the Reverend Al Sharpton’s incendiary words and actions; and
(3) fervently urges elected officials and public servants, who have condoned and legitimized the Reverend Al Sharpton’s incendiary words and actions, to publicly denounce and condemn such racist and anti-Semitic views.