Roland S. Martin
CNN Political Analyst
There have been two constants in this presidential campaign: Sen. Barack Obama will openly discuss his faith and present some of today’s most troublesome issues through a moral prism. And the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. will say something outlandish and stupid that he will have to apologize for.
First, he told a reporter in South Carolina last year that Obama was “acting white” in his response to the issues in Jena, Louisiana. Then the good Rev wrote an op-ed piece proclaiming that then-Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards was the only one speaking to issues of importance to African Americans.
Now, in his most vile and pathetic comments yet, Jackson was overhead telling a fellow panelist prior to an interview on Fox that he was going to cut Obama’s “nuts off” for his speeches on morality and fatherhood in the black community.
Rewind that for a moment. An African American reverend – someone who is called by God to speak to moral issues of the day – takes issue with an African American presidential candidate speaking about faith-based issues and the need for black men to take care of their children, for parents to care about their child’s health, and to turn the television off and to start reading more and more books?
If there was any further evidence needed to show that Rev. Jackson has lost his moral compass and is far out of touch with the state of black America today, this is it. And it is clear that Jackson has forgotten that as a minister, his first goal is to always address the moral issues before anything else.
I am a long-awaited family reunion cruise, and was doing all I could to stay away from work after a grueling primary season. But when I saw this story, and the lame excuses Rev. Jackson offered, nothing could keep from jotting down a few words.
Folks, I have written on numerous occasions what it was like as a teen to see Rev. Jackson stand before the Democratic national convention in 1984 and 1988 and give two of the finest speeches in history (both are on my iPod). He has left a significant legacy on the history on this nation by his work on behalf of civil rights.
But all of the good that he has accomplished it withering away due to his ego run amok, and unwillingness to step aside and allow the next generation of leaders to take their rightful place. He has long claimed the mantle of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and has run with that baton as fast and as hard as he can. Yet what he continues to do is tarnish his legacy, and leave a bad aftertaste in the mouths of folks today that were babes when “Run, Jesse, Run” was a rallying cry across the nation.
What is especially galling is that Jackson would make such an idiotic comment about a man who is desperately trying to advance the issues near and dear to African Americans – and all Americans – while also speaking truth to the major problems affecting the black community.
Jackson seems to want Obama to shut up on the issue of black men fathering children out of wedlock and not taking care of their responsibility. Instead, he wants him to keep his sights on jobs, economic development and education.
And that nonsense about talking down to black people? That’s the kind of BS I’ve always heard, and it’s Jackson’s way of saying Obama thinks he is better than other black folks. That’s, right. It’s just another way of calling him uppity.
Part of the problem could be that figures like Jackson have lost a lot of their moral standing, often by their own doing. Rev. Jackson can’t necessarily give the same speech Obama gave because he committed adultery and had a child out of wedlock several years ago. He’s taking care of the young girl, but another child being raised by a single mother – even if it carries the last name Jackson – is part of the problem in black America (Yea, I said it, and someone has to stop dancing around the elephant in the room).
The issue of the black family, and the destruction of it, is the main problem we face (something that will be dealt with in CNN’s Black in America series premiering July 23 and July 24). We can talk ad nauseam about education and wealth creation, but when you have 7 out 10 children born out of wedlock; those single women having to raise those children all alone; and the rampant black-on-black crime, fueled by many of these same children, that proves we have issues that must be confronted, from the pulpit to the pew.
Instead of trying to tear Obama down or anyone else who is sick and tired of the moral decay in parts of black America, Jackson should be joining the chorus of those who say, “Enough is enough.”
I was at the Essence Music Festival over the July 4th weekend in New Orleans, and more than 5,000 people crammed into the Morial Convention Center to hear Bill Cosby speak from the same template as Obama. He didn’t hold back or mince words. He discussed domestic violence, the lack of educational achievement, and the need for black parents to raise their game. Jackson previously stood with Cosby, especially when he caught heat for his words, so what’s good for America’s Dad is not good for the guy who wants to be America’s president?
Instead of denouncing, Jackson and others should praise Obama, Sen. John McCain and other political leaders who are willing to raise their voices to moral issues today.
And if Rev. Jackson or others got a problem with a politician speaking truth to African Americans, the hell with them.
As a child of God, I’ll gladly stand on the side of any man or woman, Republican or Democrat, who is willing to say what’s right. Not what’s popular.
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