Discussing the 2013 mayoral election in New York, MSNBC's Chris Matthews implored the city not to return to the bad days of the 1991 Crown Heights race riots and the liberal government's incompetent response. Yet, the Hardball anchor selectively ignored the fact that his MSNBC colleague was one of the people who escalated that situation into chaos and violence.
Matthews ranted, "I hope they don't go back to Dinkins and Crown Heights and all of that stuff." The host oddly insisted this was the "one time when I was with the neo-cons all the way." (Neo-cons? What is the "neo-con" way to fight crime?) Matthews mentioned riot murder victim Yankel Rosenbaum and Mayor David Dinkins's ineffectual response: "Dinkins says 'I'm taking the even-handed view on this one.' What do you mean even-handed? They guy got killed by the mob." Not once did Matthews mention Sharpton, the "organizer" who chanted "no justice, no peace" and warned of Jewish "diamond merchants."
In 2011, Norman Rosenbaum recounted his brother's death and Sharpton's role in the tragedy:
Sharpton says that with the virtue of hindsight, he would have done some things differently - stating that "we," meaning protesters, "should have expressed more clearly" "the precious value of Yankel Rosenbaum, who was killed by a mob that night." He says, "I would have also included in my utterances that there was no justification or excuse for violence or for the death of Yankel Rosenbaum."
But he does not outright apologize for his conduct. And his conduct was reprehensible.
He makes only passing mention of the vile words that incited the anti-Semitic rioters, which made an already volatile violent situation much worse. It was Sharpton who repeatedly bellowed to the rioters, "No justice, no peace!"
And Sharpton claims his remarks at Gavin Cato's funeral were misinterpreted. Here is what he said, according to a 1993 report in the Jewish Forward by legendary reporter Philip Gourevitch: "Talk about how Oppenheimer in South Africa sends diamonds straight to Tel Aviv and deals with the diamond merchants right here in Crown Heights. The issue is not anti-Semitism; the issue is apartheid. . . . All we want to say is what Jesus said: If you offend one of these little ones, you got to pay for it. No compromise, no meetings, no coffee klatsch, no skinnin' and grinnin'."
Based on everything we have seen and read, Sharpton never called upon the rioters to stop their anti-Semitism-inspired violence. He never called on the rioters to go home. To the contrary, he stirred them up. And three days of anti-Semitic violence became the Crown Heights riots.
If the Crown Heights riots represent New York at its worst, what does that say about MSNBC for hiring Sharpton as a host?
Before moving on, Matthews added that he didn't want to return to the days of "pee" smells on the subway.
A transcript of the September 11 exchange is below:
CHRIS MATTHEWS: I think it's interesting, though, that after five terms of relatively conservative government, which I think has been relatively successful government, to say the least, they decide to have some fun again.
JOE SCARBOROUGH: So do a lot of liberals in New York.
MATTHEWS: I hope they don't go back to Dinkins and Crown Heights and all of that stuff, because that was the one time when I was with the neo-cons with all the way. It was Crown Heights with Yankel Rosenbaum. When someone gets killed, they say – Dinkins says "I'm taking the even-handed view on this one." What do you mean even-handed? The guy got killed by the mob. But I do think that – I always go back to this.
I was at the Angelica theater in the village, and it's a great, sort of, hip movie theater. And there was a Barnes and Noble nearby. And I was there with my kids years ago and Rudy was in office. I said "for the first time in my life I feel welcome in New York City. It's safe. You can hang around with the kids in the evening, wander around the streets. You don't have to look over your shoulder."
MATTHEWS: And I said, that's Rudy. Also, you didn't smell pee in the subway. And that really changed. That changed.