This Wednesday, Middlebury College is rolling out the red carpet to welcome noted agitator Al Sharpton to our lovely campus. Sharpton will be making a speech at Mead Chapel that evening, presumably on something designed to generate controversey. While I can't help but be a little excited to be within one square mile of the man who once said "White folks was in caves while we was building empires ... We taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it," I can't help but wonder what the college is trying to accomplish by inviting him to address its students. Additionally, I'm a little disturbed (but not at all surprised) that the sort of protestors that greeted Chief Justice John Roberts two years ago are nowhere to be found.
Al Sharpton has made a career out of being divisive. His very presence at Middlebury spits in the face of the College's stated mission to promote diversity and tolerance. Are we to understand, then, that a man who responded to the accidental death of a black child in a car wreck by inciting anti-Semetic riots (stating, "If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house") is an authority on tolerance? Is this the message Middlebury College wishes to send?
Or perhaps the College wishes to impress upon its students that it's okay to not pay taxes, as long as you don't want to. After all, that's the attitude Sharpton has taken. In May 2008, the Associated Press reported that Sharpton owed more than $1 million in unpaid federal and state taxes. Sharpton swiftly responded by logically declaring the investigation to be a racist conspiracy by the federal government to undermine him. I suppose that it's entirely possible that Middlebury just wants him to share with us the wisdom he gleaned from the experience. If so, I expect the speech to be short.
There is a school of thought that states that any publicity is good publicity. That is a school of thought usually held by idiots looking to elevate their own profile. Having Sharpton at Middlebury will bring no prestige, merely attention. He will not bring anything positive or productive to this institution. Rather, his very presence will degrade it.
And yet the administration and (more importantly) the students seem okay with it. Why? Is it simple ignorance of this man's record? Or is it an endorsement of his radicalism that drives this acceptance? I don't know. I honestly hope it is the former, but I have a sneaking suspicion that more than a few Middlebury students are genuinely thrilled that he's coming. It's a shame.
Middlebury is preparing to open its arms and embrace a race-baiting, anti-Semetic, tax-cheating hate-monger who has made a living out of dividing people. His presence is an insult to everything Middlebury stands for, and it saddens me that no one dares speak out against it.