Jesse Jackson’s Street Cred Sinks to New Lows

July 9, 2008

Jesse Jackson

The Reverend Jesse Jackson has screwed up. Big time. He thought the microphones were off during a break in taping a Fox News interview on Sunday. He was wrong. A Fox mike caught an earful from Jackson, a professed supporter and “friend” of Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama. The Reverend whispered to another guest: “I wanna cut his [Obama’s] nuts off.”


The impetus for this crude sexually and racially charged remark? Jackson’s perception that Obama is hurting his support in the black community by lecturing on morality at African-American churches and appearing (at least to Jackson) to talk down to blacks. Perhaps the Reverend — politically speaking, always a bridesmaid, never a bride — would do well to spend more time working on his own morals. Given the history of race relations in America, which has included lynchings and castration, the remarks are especially egregious coming from someone who holds himself up as a black leader and a champion of civil rights.

Wolf Blitzer, CNN

CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer asked Jackson: “Why do you say these things?”, remarking that he couldn’t even repeat the comments on air. Jackson explained: “This is a sound bite in a broader conversation about urban policy and racial disparities. I feel very distressed because I’m supportive of this campaign and with the senator, what he has done and is doing…I said he comes down as speaking down to black people. The moral message must be a much broader message. What we need really is racial justice and urban policy and jobs and health care.” True, we need those things. But we also need to hear a lot less out of Mr. Jackson, who has a positive talent for flitting about the country and interjecting himself into any situation from which he might derive publicity, regardless of whether he was invited or not. Really, aren’t you tired of Jesse Jackson?

Jackson’s comments were in response to some Obama speeches which have been directed at the black community. His Father’s Day speech in Chicago at the Apostolic Church of God was particularly blunt. He critiqued some black men for failing as parents, saying: “They have abandoned their responsibilities, acting like boys instead of men. And the foundations of our families are weaker because of it. You and I know how true this is in the African-American community. We know that more than half of all black children live in single-parent households, a number that has doubled — doubled — since we were children. We know the statistics: that children who grow up without a father are five times more likely to live in poverty and commit crime, nine times more likely to drop out of schools and twenty times more likely to end up in prison.”

Jesse Jackson, Jr. Rejects His Father's Comments about Barack Obama

By about 6:00 PM, Jackson was again on the evening news but this version of an apology was instead a defensive, self-aggrandizing litany of past civil rights milestones which blacks have achieved over the years. He won’t get any support from his son, either. Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.) released a statement Wednesday afternoon about his father’s behavior which read: “I’m deeply outraged and disappointed in Reverend Jackson’s reckless statements about Senator Barack Obama. His divisive and demeaning comments about the presumptive Democratic nominee — and I believe the next president of the United States — contradict his inspiring and courageous career…Reverend Jackson is my dad and I’ll always love him. He should know how hard that I’ve worked for the last year and a half as a national co-chair of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. So, I thoroughly reject and repudiate his ugly rhetoric. He should keep hope alive and any personal attacks and insults to himself.”

Read some interesting black history, about how Vunies High, Joe Louis’ only surviving sibling, froze to death this year during Black History Month.

Photo credit: Eric Guo

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