Thursday, July 10, 2008


Why Jackson Has an Obama Problem
Earl Ofari Hutchinson


A plainly irritated Jesse Jackson obviously didn’t mean that he would cut Obama’s n…ts off. The crude, salty street talk was simply an unguarded moment’s outburst from a frustrated Jackson at Obama’s recent political somersaults. Jackson, of course, took much deserved heat from his son Jesse Jr. and just about everyone else who has an opinion on him, his language and Obama.

But what is lost in the leap to beat up on Jackson is this: Is he right to be frustrated by Obama, and is there anything new about his frustration with him?
Jackson has always had a mix of puzzlement, wariness, and frustration with and toward Obama from the moment he announced that he would run for the presidency. Jackson and the other old guard civil rights leaders and old line black Democrats didn’t know what to make of Obama.

Jackson took a long wait and see before endorsing him. And even then the endorsement was more of a kind of, sort of endorsement than a ringing declaration of Obama’s possible presidential assets. The ubiquitous Jackson; that is the Jackson who prided himself for two decades on being any and everywhere there was a civil rights or political battle to be fought and commented on was suddenly the disappeared Jackson whenever the subject was Obama and his much touted historic breakthrough for African-Americans. There were brief Jackson sightings here and there but always it was to make a veiled knock of Obama. Jackson rapped him for not speaking out on the Jena 6 racial case in Louisiana and coupled it with a public muse about whether he was black enough. The customary denials and apologies followed when Jackson took some flak for the knock.

But Jackson’s Obama problem is not solely the pique of an aging, and increasingly bypassed civil rights icon, who has had his day, and is envious of Obama for stealing the media and public limelight. The problem is the profound gap between Jackson and Obama over how civil rights and racial battles should be fought in America.
Obama doesn’t look, talk, or act like a black leader or civil rights activist should look, talk and act. He does not march, picket or protest racial wrongs and injustices in the streets. How could he? He wasn’t around in the 1960s when Jackson and company did. He talks political and racial moderation, conciliation, healing and harmony. But even more galling than the notion that he hasn’t paid his civil rights dues, is that he also talks about being multi-racial. This sent up the red flag that Obama’s adherence and allegiance to blackness is deeply suspect.

Jackson and the old guard civil rights leaders could never hope for the rush by corporate donors to bankroll Obama’s campaign, the swooning embrace he got from Democratic Party regulars, the rapturous tout he got from blacks, and the starry eyed celebrity adulation he got from whites and other non-blacks. So it was no surprise that Obama’s rap of black men and his cheering of Bush’s faith based initiative was the last draw. It confirmed Jackson’s worst fear about Obama, and that is that he’s a deal making, Beltway Democrat who will say and do anything to get elected, even if that means tossing racial ideals as Jackson defines them under the bus.

The great irony in this is that Jackson for a brief time was looked up to with the same starry eyed swoon by many blacks and whites, was the unbridled darling of the media establishment, and could command his fair share of dollars from corporations and wealthy philanthropists. There was even a time even when the cry of “run Jesse run” for president bounced off the lips of thousands.
There was sheer delight when Jackson instantly heated up a crowd with a timely slogan, catchy rhyme, or well-timed phrase and he had the instant ear of presidents and heads of state.

Those days are long gone and Jesse is left with fast fading memories, and the frustration of having to look with a jaundice eye at a guy who’s doing what he once hoped to achieve, but doing it in a way that he could or would never do.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His new book is The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House (Middle Passage Press, February 2008).

13 comments:

Diann Dumas said...

Well said, Earl. There are interesting viewer comments on CNN's website, under the story about Jesse's comments.

Diann in L.A.

P.S. Please send notices/ emails about when any homeowners will be meeting to fight further oil development in the Baldwin Hills. We here in the Village Green are also interested.

Anonymous said...

As black people we have our problems, but it is time to quit crying (whining); and take responsibility. The one thing that scares us about Obama is that we may have to take accountability for ourselves.

It’s like the slave who did not want to leave the plantation, although they were victims of racism; it was not so bad they thought. If they left the plantation, they would have to stand on their own two feet and make their own way.

We always find reasons as to why we can make it; for example, they don’t like black people (Kanye West) so they won’t help us, I can’t get a job, the prison system, the police, yet at the same time we our worst enemy, were killing ourselves, who can stop that? There is an old saying’ “God helps them who helps themselves;” whatever happened to that?

Anonymous said...

I agree!!!!

Jesse Jackson's day has passed. Go away.!

Let the new generation do what they are doing!!

Anonymous said...

As black people we have our problems, but it is time to quit crying (whining); and take responsibility. The one thing that scares us about Obama is that we may have to take accountability for ourselves.

It’s like the slave who did not want to leave the plantation, although they were victims of racism; it was not so bad they thought. If they left the plantation, they would have to stand on their own two feet and make their own way.

Correction: to the below paragraph [can't]

We always find reasons as to why we can't make it; for example, they don’t like black people (Kanye West) so they won’t help us, I can’t get a job, the prison system, the police, yet at the same time we our worst enemy, were killing ourselves, who can stop that? There is an old saying’ “God helps them who helps themselves;” whatever happened to that?

Anonymous said...

Obama said what he said because he needed to. Maybe if some of our pathetic black parents instilled the same values in their children, we'd get some respect. There's always somebody like Jessie enabling lazy black people by providing excuses for their irresponsible behavior. We (teachers) see the same mentality in schools; excuses, excuses, excuses, and our kids are getting dumber and dumber. There's nothing worse than laziness and ignorance; and most of us are tired of it!

Editor said...

Senator Obama is running for President of the United States of America, not of the NAACP or Urban League.


None of the various clergy persons recently defamed by some in the mainstream media are running for President.


Neither Presidential candidate is running for God.


The truth may often be very "inconvenient."


However, since there are many issues that effect all of us, it is time to face the facts and act accordingly and constructively for the sake of our posterity and posteriors.


People have and do make choices, and choices have consequences.



Since "OOPS" seems to be one word that means the same thing in more than a dozen languages, if you really want to step on the "third rail" (or get caught between the catenary and the pantograph) depending on your rail system, you might want to check out the item at:


http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200807/memphis-crime


- just don't say you were not warned!



Please continue your responsible use of the media, discussing the issues rather than irrelevant distractions.


"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity."

- Dr Martin Luther King, Jr (1963)


--30--

PRINCENE said...

I think that Jesse Jackson is overwhelmed in his emotions..his own son is rallying behind future Obama (let's make sure ALL get out to vote to make that happen!).

I wonder if Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was still alive that it might not be him running for President now, or would he welcome Barack Obama, who seems to be the perfect fit (prophecy) for Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" future leader...

Reds said...

Come on Ofari, I thought you were more insightful. Even you can't see what is going on? This is just another example of using Willie Lynch tactics to create a generational divide amongst blacks. When you made comments such as "Jackson and the other old guard civil rights leaders and old line black Democrats didn’t know what to make of Obama", you are just allowing yourself to fall prey to these tactics.As Ed Gordon said, in mainstream politics, people don't trivialize older politicians and try to make them seem irrelevant. It is only in black politics that we are so quick to make this assumption that you are no longer relevant.

While Jesse’s comments were crude and inappropriate, do you really think they were made out of jealousy. Jesse was just referring to the same point Michael Eric Dyson made when he said "Obama's comments on black fathers were used to win over socially conservative whites." The fact is that Jesse knows that he and anyone from the civil rights era would never be allowed to become president, on the other hand, whites consider Obama a safe enough negro to let into the white house. As you said "Obama doesn’t look, talk, or act like a black leader or civil rights activist should look, talk and act. He does not march, picket or protest racial wrongs and injustices in the streets." Now although there is no jealousy from Jesse, nor anyone from the civil rights era, they still recognize the importance of a black man becoming president, if only for the symbolism.

So who should have more credibility amongst blacks? The answer should not be surprising when you remember Obama's political history. You seem to forgot that Obama is a self-serving individual who trampled over his own people to advance his own political career. In his first run for public office in 1996, Barack Obama faced an unexpected obstacle. A liberal black incumbent had encouraged him to run for the Illinois state senate seat she intended to vacate. Then she changed her mind, deciding to run again. Mr. Obama hired a fellow Harvard Law School graduate, challenged the validity of signatures on her nominating petitions, and got her and the other candidates thrown off the ballot. Most of these challenges were based on "technicalities." If names were printed instead of signed in cursive writing, they were declared invalid. If signatures were good but the person gathering the signatures wasn't properly registered, those petitions also were thrown out. In a recent interview, Obama granted that "there's a legitimate argument to be made that you shouldn't create barriers to people getting on the ballot." How Obama destroyed his enemies back in 1996 conflicts with his message today. He may have gotten his start registering thousands of voters, but in that first race, he made sure voters had just one choice.

Ofari, show some more sophistication in your writings. You sound more like a naive person who doesn't fully understand the deceptive intricacies of present day racial politics.

"Obama knows his way around a ballot" , http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/local/chi-070403obama-ballot,0,1843097.story [this link nay change, best to do a Google search on the title]

"Obama played hardball in first Chicago campaign" , http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/05/29/obamas.first.campaign/

"For Obama, Chicago Days Honed Tactics", http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB120873956522230099.html.

Anonymous said...

Diann Lewis the oil wells were there long before any Black person ever moved to Baldwin Hills, so please don't accuse the oil companies of being racist when they decide to utilize wells they have not used in a while. As far as the Obama Jesse thing. Just more proof that it has become easy to accuse one of not being Black enough even when they are telling the truth. It;s that attitude that one has to ignore facts about Blacks, unless it is a fact about a Black conservative, in order not to be accused of being whitewashed. It's getting real old. Every argument, even those that make sense are ruined by the, "you're not Black crowd."

Rasheed

Anonymous said...

Reds, anyone who starts a comment off with a mythical figure as "Willie Lynch" does not even deserve to be taking serious. When will Black people do enough research to realize the Willie Lynch crap was an email scam. No one would travel days, which this guy would have had to do, just to give one speech. If you want further proof of the willie Lynch myth I will provide it to you. I still can't believe we have people, who have any education, or realistic idea of history, that really believe there was a slave master named Willie Lynch.

Reds said...

Are you serious? Is this really the best you can do to criticize my post? For you and those who do not know any better, the term Willie Lynch is routinely used in African American discussion as a metaphor for tactics used for dividing blacks. This term is used by practically every modern day African American intellectual, talk show host and activists. Form Tom Joyner to Tavis Smiley, Michael Eric Dyson to Cornel West, Jesse Jackson to Louis Farakhan.

The William Lynch Speech (or Letter) is an address purportedly delivered by William Lynch to an audience on the bank of the James River in Virginia in 1712 regarding control of slaves within the colony. It was first printed in a local, widely-distributed, free publication called The St. Louis Black Pages, 9th anniversary edition, 1994*, page 8. [it’s not unusual for printed materials to be ‘post-dated’ – the 1994 edition came out in 1993]

The first internet reference to the Willie Lynch speech was in a late 1993 on-line listing of sources, posted by Anne Taylor, who was then the reference librarian at the University of Missouri at St. Louis (UMSL). However, the Lynch speech was popularized at the Million Man March on October 16, 1995, when it was referred to by Louis Farrakhan.

The Willie Lynch speech continues to appear in popular culture, with articles, books, and videos being produced purporting to teach people to deprogram themselves and "turn off your Willie Lynch Chip". It is re-printed on numerous websites, discussed in chat rooms, forwarded as a “did you know” email to friends and family members, assigned as required readings in college and high school courses, promoted at conferences, and there are several books published with the title of “Willie Lynch.” For example, Lawanda Staten, How to Kill Your Willie Lynch (1997); Kashif Malik Hassan-el, The Willie Lynch Letter and the Making of a Slave (1999); Marc Sims, Willie Lynch: Why African-Americans Have So Many Issues! (2002); Alvin Morrow, Breaking the Curse of Willie Lynch (2003); and Slave Chronicles, The Willie Lynch Letter and the Destruction of Black Unity (2004), Frederick Douglass, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845), p. 84.

In the 2007 movie The Great Debaters, Denzel Washington's character Melvin B. Tolson refers to the Willie Lynch speech as being the definition of the black slave.

You said "Reds, anyone who starts a comment off with a mythical figure as "Willie Lynch" does not even deserve to be taking serious." So are you saying that none of the above mentioned individuals should be taken seriously?

Now, more than ten years after the Million Man March, the speech has become extremely popular, although many historians and critical thinkers questioned this strange and unique document from the outset.

The only known “William Lynch” who could have authorized a 1712 speech in Virginia was born 30 years after the alleged speech was given. No credible historian has indicated that any of the items on the Lynch list were a part of a divide and rule strategy in the early 18th century.

There are a number of terms in the alleged 1712 Lynch speech that are undoubtedly anachronisms (i.e. words that are out of their proper historical time period).

Lynch claims that his method of control “will work throughout the South.” In 1712, there was no region in the current-day U.S. identified as the “South.”

Lynch claims that his method of control will work for “at least 300hundred years (which makes no grammatical sense). The arbitrary choice of 300 years is also interesting because it happens to conveniently bring us to the present time.

Lynch spells “color” in the American form instead of the British form (“colour”). We are led to believe that Lynch was a British slaveowner in the “West Indies,” yet he does not write in British style.

The name Willie Lynch is interesting, as it may be a simple play on words: “Will Lynch,” or “Will he Lynch.” This may be a modern psychological game being played on unsuspecting believers?

Some people argue that it doesn’t matter if the speech is fact or fiction, because white people did use tactics to divide us.

http://manuampim.com/lynch_hoax1.html

RhondaCoca said...

"I wonder if Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was still alive that it might not be him running for President now, or would he welcome Barack Obama, who seems to be the perfect fit (prophecy) for Dr. King's "I Have A Dream" future leader..."

Umm...mabye if you knew anyhting about Dr. King, you would know that he made more than a speech. He became far more socialist and even radicial towards the end of his life. Much of what he spoke about was prophetic in regards to Obama but not in a good way.

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