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Maureen Dowd: ‘Oddly Retrogressive’ for Obama to ‘Outsource’ Race Relations to Sharpton

Maureen Dowd of the New York Times said in her latest column that President Barack Obama has effectively disowned his symbol as a racial uniter and unloaded the responsibility on Rev. Al Sharpton.

Sharpton, who hosts his own MSNBC show, has risen lately as a prominent figure in American race relations, acting as a liaison between the Obama administration and Ferguson, Mo., as well as New York. Both cities have seen two black men killed by white police, possibly through excessive force.

“It seems oddly retrogressive,” Dowd wrote, “to make Sharpton the official go-between with Ferguson’s black community, given that his history has been one of fomenting racial divides, while Obama’s has been one of soothing them.”

More from the column:

[T]he one thing it was impossible to imagine, back in the giddy days of the 2009 inauguration, as Americans basked in their open-mindedness and pluralism, was that the first African-American president would outsource race. …

He dispatched Eric Holder to Ferguson, and deputized Al Sharpton, detaching himself at the very moment when he could have helped move the country forward on an issue close to his heart. It’s another perverse reflection of his ambivalent relationship to power.

He was willing to lasso the moon when his candidacy was on the line, so why not do the same at a pivotal moment for his presidency and race relations? Instead, he anoints a self-promoting TV pundit with an incendiary record as “the White House’s civil rights leader of choice,” as The Times put it, vaulting Sharpton into “the country’s most prominent voice on race relations.”

[Image via New York Times]

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