‘Race-baiters,’ ‘hustlers,’ and ‘pimps’: right wing attacks on civil rights leaders

NEW YORK, NY - JULY 14:  People hold hands in a circle at a rally honoring Trayvon Martin at Union Square in Manhattan on July 14, 2013 in New York City....
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 14: People hold hands in a circle at a rally honoring Trayvon Martin at Union Square in Manhattan on July 14, 2013 in New York City....
Mario Tama/Getty Images

Some right wing pundits slammed civil rights advocates who are calling for justice in the wake of the not guilty verdict in the George Zimmerman trial.

It began Sunday, as Tucker Carlson unleashed some particularly inflammatory language on Fox News Sunday.

“I don’t know how I feel about George Zimmerman. But I am positive that people like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton do not deserve to be called civil rights leaders,” he said. “They are not. They are hustlers and pimps who make a living off inflaming racial tensions. They know nothing about this. They’re not residents of Florida. They don’t represent anybody, they’re not elected to anything, they don’t have constituencies. The only reason they’re allowed to do this is because we in the press enable them by calling them civil rights leaders.”

By Monday afternoon, another Fox News show, The Five, had picked up where Carlson left off.

“In the aftermath of every racially-charged trial some so-called civil rights leaders play the race card. They need there to be racial division and tension to remain relevant,” said host Eric Bolling, before calling Rev. Sharpton a “race-baiter.”

Bob Beckel criticized Sharpton on the show for failing to call for all those outraged by the verdict to remain non-violent, despite the fact that Sharpton did just that before the verdict was even read. (Sharpton also subsequently spoke out against the violence seen in L.A. protests at a press conference Tuesday morning.)

Rush Limbaugh used his Tuesday radio show to target both Sharpton and Rev. Jesse Jackson, accusing them and others of throwing a “temper tantrum over not getting their way.”

Sharpton formally called on the Justice Department to investigate whether George Zimmerman committed any civil rights violations against Trayvon Martin in the Feb. 26, 2012 shooting.

“People all over the country will gather to show that we are not having a two or three day anger fit,” he said. “This is a social movement for justice.”

After the verdict, defense lawyer Mark O’Mara said race had not played any role in Zimmerman’s actions. “I think that things would have been different if George Zimmerman was black for this reason: he never would have been charged with a crime,” he said.

“The facts that night, [it] was not borne out that he acted in a racial way,” O’Mara added. “His history is a non-racist.” Zimmerman said he shot Martin in self defense after Martin attacked him.

Sharpton will begin his campaign with with vigils and rallies in 100 cities this coming Saturday, and will continue with additional marches in Tallahassee, Fla., and Washington D.C. in the coming weeks, that will focus on “Stand Your Ground” laws as well.

“Florida will be the battleground of a new civil rights movement,” he said.