Sunday, July 13, 2008

Political madness

Is Jesse Jackson crazy?

I'll answer that ... maybe.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson -- popular civil rights leader, minister and former presidential candidate -- at least momentarily wanted to castrate current presidential hopeful Barrack Obama this week. What?!

I was traveling this week and catching news when I could, so I missed the original report. But someone asked me after the story broke that day about what I thought of Jackson's comments. I was dumbfounded and had to go online to see what was up. What I discovered was hugely disappointing. Jackson slammed Obama for a speech in which the presumptive Democratic nominee addressed male responsibility in the black community.

What, did Jackson have a problem with Obama blasting the black men who are AWOL? Or, not taking responsibility for heading households, contributing to society and making this nation a better place for all of us to live? I think, yes.

But more importantly, while we have a considerable lack of black leadership in this country, I have a problem with Jackson's remarks because they seem to be more about himself than African-Americans.

Jackson, love him or hate him, was the go-to guy on black issues in this country. That was until, someone with substance and a real willingness (as close as we can judge now, right?) to actually commit to work for people emerged. And, Obama has the most realistic shot at winning the White House as any candidate has had in our nation's history. That includes Jackson who was felled by his "Hymietown" remark, made while he himself was running for president in the '80s

Let me state for the record that I am a Jackson fan. He's a frat brother and has done a lot of good for people who look like me and live where and how I live. He was on the balcony when Martin Luther King Jr. was shot to death, for God's sake. It's hard to me more in the civil rights legacy of the nation than that. However, during the last decade nether he nor any other alleged black leader has effectively led African-Americans in this country. I don't know any progressive brother or sister who feels like any individual speaks for them. But some who are less progressive do.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, who was dismissed long-ago as a charlatan, has emerged as a more reputable voice of our people. Jackson should be pissed at having the mantle of leadership wrested from him. I don't know, however, if his self-interest relative to staying relevant in a movement that has moved away from him will permit Jackson to take a critical look in the mirror.

After all, Jackson was caught while taping a TV program and wearing a mic. Given the fact that he's been interviewed ad nauseum over the years and once hosted his own show on CNN, he had to know better. Many people believe he was aware and knew what he was doing. I'd like to plead innocence for him, as pathetic as that sounds. But I know better.

To Obama's credit he took the high road. I just hope Jackson learns a lesson from the move he made.

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