Monday, November 28, 2005

Jackson's public record redeems moral profile

Original Chimes Article Here

After news of Jesse Jackson’s affair broke, the news channels and airwaves were full of speculation. Those who had been supporters and friends of Jackson still supported him. The ones who felt outraged and betrayed by Jackson’s infidelity were those who never liked Jackson all that much to begin with. This indicates that the Jesse Jackson affair is not so much about a pastor disappointing his flock, as it is about Jesse’s opponents using this personal incident as a club to silence Jackson’s political views.

If this sounds at all familiar, that is because this has been the practice of the Republican Party for the past eight years during their attacks on Clinton. Clinton, of course, is not the first President to have had an extra-marital affair. He is simply the first President to have a congressional investigation into his bedroom activities.

But after all the fuss, what happened to Clinton’s opponents? After Bob Dole ran a campaign based on family values in 1996, it was revealed that Dole once had infidelities of his own. Newt Gingrich, who can still be seen frequently on the Fox news channel complaining about how Clinton has disgraced the presidency, is no doubt hoping the public has forgotten about his own family life, and the less than graceful way in which he left his post as Speaker of the House. And after all the bellyaching the religious right did about Clinton’s past, they enthusiastically rallied behind a Presidential ticket which had three drunk driving convictions between the Presidential candidate and his VP.

Once all the moralist rhetoric had fallen away, the crusaders themselves were revealed to be nothing more then sinful human beings.

Two phrases come to mind. The first one is Jesus’ quote, “Let he who is without sin throw the first stone.” I think this stands quite nicely without further elaboration.

The second phrase is a lament that was heard frequently after Jackson’s affair. “Where have all the heroes gone?” We don’t have any heroes left today, because heroes never existed in the first place. Scratch any “hero” and you’ll find an ordinary human being underneath, filled with all the faults, weaknesses and temptations that the rest of us struggle with. It’s just as true for civil rights workers and reverends as it is for House Speakers and Presidential Candidates. Evangelist Tony Campolo summed it up nicely, “If you knew everything about me, you wouldn’t want me to be your speaker today,” he once said to his audience. “But that’s okay, because if I knew everything about you, I wouldn’t have come.” Even Martin Luther King Jr, who is today beyond criticism, was not entirely faithful to his wife.

Jesse Jackson’s liberal views aren’t always popular on a campus like Calvin’s, and if someone wants to bash him on account of his views or his public record, I wouldn’t think this is any worse than someone like myself attacking John Ashcroft on the same grounds. But, let us not sink to use Jesse Jackson’s marital life as a political weapon.

Editor's Note
This article was written in response to an editorial that my friend Waddilove had written the previous week.  Sort of.  I knew Waddilove was writing an article attacking Jesse Jackson on his marital affair, so I wrote this rebuttal up before I had even read Waddilove's article.  As a result, my own article went in a slightly different direction, and if you read Waddilove's original article, you can see that I actually didn't respond to all of his points.

Nevertheless, to provide some sort of context for this, and balance, I'm reproducing Waddilove's article below as well:

Jesse Jackson's Credibility Faces Tough Questions

Original Chimes Article Here

I write this article to protest against and inform others of the actions of one Reverend Jesse Jackson. Reverend Jackson, as most of you probably know, is a very influential African-American leader who has pushed for equality for minorities in our country since the 1960’s. Much of what he has advocated over the decades has occurred and has been very positive, but to me he has now become a poster child for Lord Acton’s famous quote “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Reverend Jackson may not have absolute power, but I believe that when his recent actions are considered alongside recent disclosures of his past actions, the obvious conclusion one must draw is that his long-running influence has poisoned his perspective. It is time for him to step aside from his prominent public position.

During the recent presidential election debacle, Reverend Jackson spent much time in the contested state of Florida. He had every right to be there, but the reasons he chose to go and what he did while there leave me wondering what possible productive end he could have had in mind. It may or may not be true that he uncovered, as he claims, irregularities in the state of Florida on Election Day, perpetrated by local and/or state officials that prevented African-Americans from casting their votes. Goodness knows that if he is correct, these would not be the only irregularities to have taken place in the state that day! In any case, what good purpose was served by his organizing all those inflammatory marches in the state while the post-election process was sorting itself out? No other group or figure, to my knowledge, even came close to his level of agitation. What result could his actions, had they been taken seriously by most Americans, have brought about other than to further inflame divisive racial sentiments in our nation?

A few weeks ago, it became known that Reverend Jackson had fathered a child out of wedlock with an employee of his organization, the Rainbow/PUSH coalition.

As a self-proclaimed moral leader who routinely speaks on behalf of African-American families, does it not seem odd that there will apparently be absolutely no tangible consequence the Reverend will pay for this action? The majority of Rainbow/PUSH members seem to want Reverend Jackson to stay on as the head of the organization and remain every bit as visible on the public scene as he always has been. This is despite Jackson’s flip-flop about his own view of his current moral status.

The day the news of his 20 month-old child broke, he announced he would be dropping out of the public eye for an undetermined period of time. Too bad that period of time turned out to be exactly five days! A nice long weekend during which Reverend Jackson somehow wants us to believe he searched his soul and found his credibility again. I say this was a golden missed opportunity for the Reverend. Americans are very forgiving on these matters, and that is good, to an extent. The usual catch to this forgiveness is that the person who asks for forgiveness has to show something resembling a penitent attitude about his actions!

Finally, I heard recently on the radio that Jackson and Rainbow/PUSH are going to start an organized effort to lobby Congress for nationwide reparations payments to the descendants of former African-American slaves. I disagree with this idea in principle, but I do understand why some people desire that it take place. Still, if what I have heard is true, then Reverend Jackson’s power has corrupted more than just his personal moral condition. Whatever non-African-American who would even listen to such an idea coming from this man at this time is a type of person I have not yet met in my lifetime.

I have heard rumors that more influential people would openly criticize Reverend Jackson than do these days, but are afraid to do so because they may be labelled a racist by him or his organization. Since I am technically not influential, and am not a racist, I have no such fear. I say, with verve, “Jesse go home!!!” I hope to hear from you again in ten years, and not a day sooner.

No comments: