After civil rights activist-turned-MSNBC host Rev. Al Sharpton picketed the New York office of Pershing Square Capital billionaire Bill Ackman on Thursday, Sen. John Kennedy, R-La., said Sharpton wrongly believes that to ignore race is racist.
Sharpton and his East Harlem, N.Y.-based National Action Network traveled downtown to protest Ackman, with the pundit saying this week that Ackman "declared war on all of us" with his comments about disgraced former Harvard President Claudine Gay and DEI.
Ackman on Wednesday issued an invitation on X, formerly known as Twitter, to meet with Sharpton in-person and encouraged the activist's entourage to pass along the message.
On "Hannity," Kennedy said he's read Sharpton's remarks and believes him to be entitled to his opinion as an American.
"Here's mine. America is not perfect, but we are good. Like every other civilization, America caught the disease of slavery, but we beat it back and we're proud of that," he said, citing the multiple civil rights acts passed by congress between 1866 and 1964.
"We've made a lot of racial progress in this country. And I think we've reached the point where most – not all, but most – Americans don't think about that much about race. They think about character. They understand, as I've said before, that to a bear, we all taste like chicken."
Kennedy said race should not be used as a cudgel to "harm" someone, claiming Sharpton believes otherwise.
"I think he believes that to disregard race is racist. And that, to me, is unconstitutional and morally wrong. But he's entitled to his point of view."
As for Gay, Kennedy said she was correct to resign and that he bears no ill will toward the academic.
"My advice to her, for what it's worth, is that when one door closes, sometimes you need to get a hammer and some nails and make sure that ‘S.O.B.’ stays shut because Dr. Gay had no business running a university," he said.
"The plagiarism allegations against her are serious. I think most Americans found repugnant her suggestion – express or implied – that it might be OK to kill Jewish people in the proper context."
Later, Kennedy was asked by Sean Hannity as to how President Biden has "gotten away with" his own checkered race-related past, with the host saying he worked alongside the late Ku Klux Klan exalted cyclops and West Virginia Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd to oppose public school integration.
Byrd later called his membership in the KKK his "greatest mistake."
Hannity noted Biden once claimed integration could lead to children being educated in a "racial jungle," and the president has also previously remarked favorably on his time working with segregationist Democratic Sens. James Eastland of Mississippi and Herman Talmadge of Georgia early in his legislative career.
"How is it that a Democratic Party… wouldn't go after any conservative that held that position and fought for that position? How come Joe Biden got a pass?" Hannity asked.
Kennedy replied that Biden has long had the protection of the mainstream media, adding that in his own state of Louisiana, the press has been deferential to the incumbent.
"As I said the other day, the American people are not stupid, but they think that Joe Biden is. And there's a lot of evidence for that," Kennedy said.
"He's running out of toes to shoot off – the border is ‘Exhibit A'."