Ivy League Professor Glenn Loury Blasts Al Sharpton’s ‘High-Level Shtick’

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JULY 01: Al Sharpton speaks onstage at the 2017 ESSENCE Festival presented by Coca-Cola at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 1, 2017 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Paras Griffin/Getty Images for 2017 ESSENCE Festival )
Paras Griffin/Getty Images for 2017 ESSENCE Festival

Glenn Loury, a Brown University economics professor and host of the video blog The Glenn Show, blasted leftwing civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton — as well as the Democrat Party for boosting his career — claiming the reverend employs a “very high-level shtick” in his efforts to assist blacks, which he deemed counterproductive.

In a discussion with John McWhorter, an associate professor of linguistics at Columbia University, during his latest episode, Loury had harsh words for the African American Baptist minister who he accused of regularly “broker[ing] the race card.”

An economic theorist and expert on social capital, Loury blamed Democrats for trafficking in identity politics based on race and encouraging the likes of Al Sharpton:

I think the politics of the Democratic Party is perfect for creating the careers of people like Al Sharpton who broker the race card and the votes of black Democrats for the access that they can get and who play a certain kind of functional role in something that I think really poorly represents the interests of African Americans rightly understood.

Loury also criticized Sharpton for harming underprivileged African Americans through his activism:

If Al Sharpton were running around talking about charter schools; if he were running around urging African Americans to adopt kids who don’t have any parents; if he were insisting that it’s possible for black kids to compete effectively if they get the kind of instruction and support that they need to acquire the intellectual skills that allow them to compete in [school exams] or anything like that.

If he was going to find ex-offenders who were prepared to reject the gang life and affirm decent ways of living and foster relationships of guidance with young men who [were] not yet on the right path, and so forth and so on; if he was working with the cops and not against the cops to try to keep the peace in some of these neighborhoods, I’d have more respect for him.

“But it’s a very high-level shtick,” he explained. “He’s refined it to perfection and he’s out-Jesse Jacksoning Jesse Jackson!”

Loury claimed that Sharpton’s efforts do little to meaningfully address the black community’s needs.

“In the 21st century, while the clock keeps ticking on poor black people, the demagoguery that spews out of [Sharpton] is almost completely unrelated to the actual material needs of this population,” he said. 

TULSA, OKLAHOMA - JUNE 01: (L-R) Civil Rights leaders Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton spend time together ahead of a rally during commemorations of the 100th anniversary of the Tulsa Race Massacre on June 01, 2021 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. President Biden stopped in Tulsa to commemorate the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre. May 31st of this year marks the centennial of when a white mob started looting, burning and murdering in Tulsa's Greenwood neighborhood, then known as Black Wall Street, killing up to 300 people and displacing thousands more. Organizations and communities around Tulsa continue to honor and commemorate survivors and community residents. (Photo by Brandon Bell/Getty Images)

Jesse Jackson and Rev. Al Sharpton. (Brandon Bell/Getty Images).

He then mocked the notion that President Biden could succeed in “rescuing” black communities with Sharpton’s aid.

“[President] Joe Biden is going to rescue inner city Baltimore? Really?” he said. “At the brokerage of Al Sharpton, Joe Biden is going to save education for poor black people?” 

“Joe Biden is going to make it safe to walk on the Southside of Chicago after midnight because Al Sharpton is in the Oval Office?” he added.

COLUMBIA, SC - JUNE 22: Democratic presidential candidate, former Vice President Joe Biden looks to his supporters after a television interview with Al Sharpton during the 2019 South Carolina Democratic Party State Convention on June 22, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina. Democratic presidential hopefuls are converging on South Carolina this weekend for a host of events where the candidates can directly address an important voting bloc in the Democratic primary. (Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty Images)

Joe Biden looks to his supporters after a television interview with Al Sharpton. (Sean Rayford/Getty Images).

Sharpton, who hosts MSNBC’s PoliticsNation, has a history of anti-white and antisemitic rhetoric, often blaming issues on race without evidence and portraying police as brutal, racist, and evil.

Last week, Sharpton urged the Biden administration to “immediately” halt deportations of Haitian migrants, attributing their treatment to discrimination.

“How do you decide to give asylum to some, and when you get to nations like Haiti and people of color there is a different or perceived different asylum?” he asked.

Last month, Sharpton accused Republicans in the Texas Senate and the House of “beginning to play the role that many segregationists played in the ’60s” by attempting to pass voting legislation in a special session.

In May, Sharpton claimed that “the practice of America was built on racism.”

Loury, by contrast, has been an outspoken critic of cursorily attributing issues to race.

In June, he criticized the need for affirmative action policies in education during the current era, explaining that black students do poorly on tests when they “don’t know the material” and not due to biases against them. 

Consequently, he urged educators to develop student potential rather than lower standards.

In May, Loury blasted the teaching of identity politics in higher education, calling it a “criminal abdication of our pedagogic responsibilities,” while asserting a teacher’s responsibility is to challenge students’ preconceptions about themselves.

“To teach young people that they are [the color of their skin] is criminal in my opinion,” he stated. “We’re to challenge them!” he exclaimed. 

Follow Joshua Klein on Twitter @JoshuaKlein.

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