As the Internet buzzes with mocking tributes to Charles Ramsey, the Cleveland man who helped rescue the three kidnapped women this week, Rev. Al Sharpton forcefully came to his defense last night. Sharpton also addressed a report on the Smoking Gun website that said Ramsey had been convicted for domestic violence more than a decade ago.
On his MSNBC show, Sharpton said, “an ordinary man, even an imperfect man can be a hero.”
While pointing out that NBC has not been able to confirm the Smoking Gun’s report, Sharpton added, “But we know what he did this week. We know what he did when he became famous for doing the right thing.”
Sharpton lashed those who are starting to “mock Mr. Ramsey’s hairstyle, his dental work, that he was unshaven, or ate at McDonald’s, or the way he speaks.”
“It’s enough! He should be given credit for what he did,” Sharpton said.
“He kicks in a door to rescue those women and some are criticizing his diction?” Sharpton asked. “I tell you what, those women were held prisoner for ten years and during that time many better-dressed people drove by that house, until Charles Ramsey heard a voice cry out for help.”
Comparing Ramsey to previous Internet sensations Antoine Dodson, who saved his younger sister from an intruder; Sweet Brown, who barely escaped her apartment complex during a fire last year; and Michelle Clarke, who described the hailstorm that fell on her hometown of Houston, writer Aisha Harris provided insightful commentary on Slate.
“It’s difficult to watch these videos and not sense that their popularity has something to do with a persistent, if unconscious, desire to see black people perform,” Harris writes. “Even before the genuinely heroic Ramsey came along, some viewers had expressed concern that the laughter directed at people like Sweet Brown plays into the most basic stereotyping of blacks as simple-minded ramblers, living in the ‘ghetto,’ socially out of step with the rest of educated America. Black or white, seeing Clark and Dodson merely as funny instances of random poor people talking nonsense is disrespectful at best. And shushing away the question of race seems like wishful thinking.”