It’s time to man up – I was wrong about Jesse L. Jackson, Sr.
First, some background. I wrote a column in 2008 under the title, “Winners and Losers from Election ’08” in which I listed Jesse Jackson, Sr. as one of the biggest losers of that year.
Here is what I said: “His past contributions to America are undeniable, but his future place is uncertain. Every time he opened his mouth in the past year, he said something negative about Obama. First, Jackson criticized Obama for ‘acting white’ because he was not as forceful as Jesse wanted regarding the Jena 6 case in Louisiana. Then there was the infamous Fox News open mic incident where Jackson is heard saying, ‘See, Barack has been talking down to Black people…telling niggers how to behave…I wanna cut his nuts out.’ Finally, in October Jackson was speaking at the first World Policy Forum in Evian, France. Published reports have him saying if Obama is elected as president, ‘fundamental changes in U.S. foreign policy’ will occur. He said the most important change would occur in the Middle East, where ‘decades of putting Israel’s interests first’ would end. Jackson’s reputation has been forever tarnished.”
Jackson Obama of “acting white” in response to Obama’s tepid response to the Jena Six, the case of six Black high school students in Jena, La. arrested and charged with attempted second-degree murder for the beating of a White student. The charges were later reduced to aggravated second-degree battery and conspiracy. Many believed the prosecutor filed the more serious charges because the accused juveniles were Black. As we all know, Obama has no history of taking strong positions on anything when it involves Blacks.
As much as I hate to admit it, Jackson got it right when he accused Obama of “talking down to Black people.” Everyone, including myself, eviscerated him for making the comment and accused him of being jealous of Obama. How can we forget when Obama spoke at the Congressional Black Caucus dinner a couple years ago and told Blacks to “stop complaining?” Obviously, Jackson saw something in Obama early that the rest of us missed. Now, we are paying the price for it, especially Blacks.
Jackson was also right on point with his prediction about the changing U.S. relations with the Middle East. Our relationship with Israel has never been more volatile than it is now.
The Blacks in America – along with a good number of Whites – wanted so badly to show the world that in 2008 our country could be held up as the model for true democracy and equality. America wanted to prove that anyone, regardless of background, who played by the rules and had a vision, could finally be president of the United States.
To his credit, Jesse Jackson saw beyond the rhetoric and somehow had the ability to see deep inside of Obama’s soul and tried to warn us, however clumsy, of what we were getting. So, Rev. Jackson, again I was wrong and you were right. You saw a level of arrogance and detachment from the Black community that most of us were blinded to – or didn’t want to see.
You knew he would not pay attention to the high unemployment rate in the Black community. You knew he would not spend much political capital on the high murder rate in Chicago. You knew he would continue to talk down to Black people. You were rightly ostracized for the way you expressed yourself back in 2008. But on the issue of Obama’s disdain for Blacks; you must be embraced and brought back into the fold.
We wanted Obama to win on many levels. But Jesse Jackson, you have taught us that we should never allow emotions to cloud our judgment. I’m not always right, but I am rarely wrong – and this time, I was definitely wrong.