The Content of Jesse Jackson’s Character

Tell us what you really think Jesse!

For any harm or hurt that this hot mic private conversation may have caused, I apologize. My support for Senator Obama’s campaign is wide, deep and unequivocal.” These were the words the Reverend Jesse Jackson used to apologize for what CNN characterized as “vulgar” comments made by Jackson against the presumptive Democratic nominee Barak Obama for a speech Obama made in a black church on Father’s Day. (Read the speech here). Jackson said he was “very distressed” that his foul remarks became public because he supports the White House bid of Obama, a fellow Chicagoan. It happened, he said, when a fellow guest on a Fox News show last Sunday asked him about Obama’s speeches at black churches. Fox News captured Jackson criticizing presidential candidate Barack Obama for talking down to blacks on the issue of fatherhood. Not knowing the microphone was still live, Jackson said,

See, Barack’s been talking down to black people … I want to cut his nuts off.

Apparently, not catering to Jackson’s style of bringing racial equality to the country creates a risk of loosing one’s family jewels. I know that Jackson is passionate about racial justice and all that, but he really needs to take a sabbatical or something. He went way over the top in these comments. Not only were they less than “reverend-like”, but I get the sense that Jesse Jackson’s discomfort with Barak Obama has more to do with pride and position than anything else. Some suggest it’s that green-eyed monster – jealousy raising it’s ugly head. One commentator noted,

It’s called jealousy. Barack Obama is everything Jesse wanted to be to America, but somehow came up short. Now, he has to watch a younger, far more talented, man of color take the reins

Face it, Jackson is yesterday’s news and with Obama within reach of achieving what Jackson couldn’t acquire in 1984 and 1988 when he ran for president, Jackson can’t admit his confrontational race-baiting style of politics has failed to produce the equality he says he seeks.

But are we to believe that all this “hate speech” by Jackson was jealousy, or his way of venting over Obama’s disassociation with Jackson’s race-baiting policies, or could it be even something more calculated and dubious? What I mean is it possible that this was really all set up between Jackson and the Obama campaign as a way to endear fence-sitting moderates and some conservatives to see Obama as a balanced statesman verses the “radical” Jesse Jackson? That image would surely be a definite benefit for Obama, seeking to appear more mainstream. As Newsweek commentator, Howard Fineman noted, “What better way to prove your mainstream bona fides with white conservative voters than to be criticized by Jackson?” (Read his article here). Even Biko Baker, an African-American journalist and activist suggested such a nefarious scheme. (Read his blog here).

Whatever the true reason for Jackson’s vulgar outburst, one thing I can’t help but see in all this is another facet of Jackson being untethered from the faith he claims. That is, the Christian faith. Although I think his commitment to social and racial justice is commendable and of the highest tradition of Christian activism, I would suggest that his faith is clearly adrift in a sea of unChristlike conviction, behavior and conversation. His fruit is showing.

In context, Jackson’s reasoning for saying what he said was that, while he agrees with Obama’s arguments that blacks must do more to improve their lot, “the moral message must be a much broader message. What we need really is racial justice and urban policy and jobs and health care.” Let me get this right. So, because Obama, who has in fact, often promoted the broad moral message that Jackson insisted on making, didn’t quite say it the way Jackson would say it, that, somehow merits Obama deserving to be castrated? Anyone in their right mind, (not Jeremiah Wright) has got to notice that Jesse probably needs, at least, some anger management training. There is just no way he can legitimize or sanction his frustration at Obama’s apparent lack of a “broader moral message” by suggesting such a barbaric penalty. It was, pardon the pun, hitting below the belt. But not only was it that, but it was totally baseless. As Obama spokesman Bill Burton stated,

As someone who grew up without a father in the home, Senator Obama has spoken and written for many years about the issue of parental responsibility, including the importance of fathers participating in their children’s lives. He also discusses our responsibility as a society to provide jobs, justice, and opportunity for all. He will continue to speak out about our responsibilities to ourselves and each other, and he of course accepts Reverend Jackson’s apology.

What I find so disturbing about this whole deal is that it brings into focus how politics undermines the true gospel of Christ. The gospel is redemptive because it provides a savior who forgives, yet demands that we “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and love our neighbors as ourselves.” Love of God demands that we are obedient to Him, showing our love for God by showing it to others, friends and enemies alike. If Barak Obama and Jesse Jackson really want to be witnesses of God’s grace, there’s no better time than the present to start practicing it.

My religion obligates me to be political, to seek to do God’s will and allow the spiritual word to become concrete justice and dwell among us. Religion should use you politically to do public service. Politics should not misuse religion. When the Word becomes flesh and dwells among us, that’s called good religion. – Rev. Jesse Jackson

Related Articles:

Jesse Jackson takes One for the Team – Mike Gallagher

Has Jesse Jackson Become Irrelevant? – Jack Cafferty (CNN)

Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr., Rebuts Dad – Lynn Sweet

Jesse Jackson’s Liberal Jesus – LaShawn Barber

Before Threatening Obama’s ‘Nuts,’ Jesse Jackson Dissed Faith-Based Projects

Why Jesse Jackson attacked Barack Obama – Daniel Finkelstein of The Times

Jesse Jackson, Figure of the Past – Michael Reagan

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