July 10th, 2008
01:44 PM ET

Rev. Jackson owes God, not Obama, an apology

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/07/10/art.jackson2.jpg]

Roland S. Martin
CNN Political Analyst
AC360° Contributor

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.

soundoff (88 Responses)
  1. angelo new york city..

    I love it.. and this man wanted to be president of this great country.. what a jerk.. hey call al sharpton, see what he thinks of jesse the mouth,, what a turkey.

    July 10, 2008 at 3:39 pm |
  2. Brigitte

    Thank you so much for your awesome comments! It's about time someone told it like it is when it comes to Jesse Jackson!

    July 10, 2008 at 3:34 pm |
  3. dl

    Very very well said Roland. Thank you for taking the time to comment, and I wish you back at work to be able say it in person (but I defiantly respect your well deserved R&R).

    If someone said "nappy Ho" vs "cutting your nuts offs" I think the latter would be far more offensive. But since Jackson is not white all he has to do is give a 1 minute apology and then he can go right back to flapping his big mouth.

    Although the Obama campaign quick accepted the apology, I’m glad the black community has stepped up to let people know that this is NOT acceptable. I cant belive anyone (white or black) can possibly not be offended by this type of talk.

    July 10, 2008 at 3:31 pm |
  4. Willie Pee


    Thank you for this essay on the so called (Rev) Jesse Jackson. It is obvious that Jesse Jackson can't deal with the real issues of Black America, because he is part of these issues. To have power to speak on behalf of an issue, it can't exist in your life. He is not able to stand with Obama on behalf of these issues of fatherhood and others, because of his own sins, this doesn't give him the right to down another that's trying to make a difference in the Black community. I say to Jesse Jackson, let the REAL LEADER (Obama) stand and take care of the issues that we face as Black Americans.

    July 10, 2008 at 3:31 pm |
  5. Jan

    I wish people would stop calling Jesse Jackson "Reverand". The man has absolutely no right to refer to himself as a man of God when he curses, has affairs and exhibits the attitude of a moron when he speaks. He may not "speak down" to us but he is certainly an embarrassment to us and a very poor example for our children. We got tired of his rhythm and rhyme gibberish years ago because it no longer inspires us. The tv and radio stations waste their listener's time when they ask him to be on their shows. He needs to look in the mirror and see himself for what he has become and stop pretending to be something he is not.

    July 10, 2008 at 3:30 pm |
  6. jim

    Jessie Jackson doesn't owe anybody a apology. He has a right to express his opinions. Although, I don't like him. He is right

    July 10, 2008 at 3:28 pm |
  7. Dorian Evans

    Rev. Jesse Jackson is and has been a champion of causes for those who cannot and could not advocate for themselves. He is a man. He is a politician. Rev. Jackson is a man who got caught trash talking and conveying how he is disappointed with a position or particular view Senator Obama has been expressing or supports. So for all the bloggers and trashtalkers who wish to exile Rev. Jackson to "we don't need u anymore land", because he challenged the "golden one", I say be very careful.

    As opposed to accepting everything our politicians do, perhaps if more people expressed their content with policies and views our politicians support- that they may disagree with- citizens may actually enact their right to participate in the political process.

    As conversation and trash talk in salons, stores and elewhere gears up and switches from Rev. Jeremiah Wright to Rev. Jesse Jackson, I challenge "black folks" to carefully evaluate the whole picture. First, we must recognize that challenging Senator Obama's positions does not mean blasphemy nor does it emit envy. It does mean however, keeping him on course. Secondly, continuing to support and respect the "old gaurd" is not counter indicative to change. I beg my people(s)to stop putting all their eggs in one basket, while discarding the old eggs. The disrepect shown to the Clintons, Rev. Jeremiah Wright and others by black radio talk show hosts, in particular, was outlandish. Finally, stop waiting on the master to deliver you to the promised land. Become actively involved in local politics and hold all these POLITICIANS accountable.

    July 10, 2008 at 3:24 pm |
  8. Brenda

    Amem Brother Roland

    July 10, 2008 at 3:22 pm |
  9. tmiller

    Jesse Jackson is an embarrassment to himself and his family. Truth is he stopped representing main stream african americans a long time ago. I personally have the detested the man my entire adult life. He is a poverty pimping extortionist. Always has been, always will be. Good riddance!

    July 10, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  10. Ryan Naugle

    I agree with you Roland, but I think the apology, or lack thereof, deserves equal, if not heightened scrutiny. Jesse Jackson (and Al Sharpton for that matter) are irrelevant. I think that these comments are going to ring deep for a while because they expose the type of blind foolishness that Senator Obama is fighting to remedy. I can only hope this is a nail in his political coffin. He is finished, and I think America is finished with him.

    July 10, 2008 at 3:21 pm |
  11. Mai Zandi

    We all know the sticking to guns issue was taken the wrong way... I don't think by any measure Sen. Obama ever wanted anyone mentioned to have their balls cut off!!!

    July 10, 2008 at 3:20 pm |
  12. rmj

    Thank you for keeping it real, you are a gifted journalist! It is obvious to me that the "Right Reverend Jesse Jackson" has been paid off to spout off – any negative commentary that will dismantle Obama's campaign! My guess is that some underground interest group has offered him big $$$$bucks$$$ to deliver garbage and confusion to the American people. Hey Jesse, you old fart...IT WON'T WORK!

    July 10, 2008 at 3:19 pm |
  13. Reynolds - Houston

    To be short and concise I am African American. I have donated several times to Obama’s campaign. As I talk with friends and family and others who support Obama we are quite happy with the campaign he is running and the language he is using. Jesse Jackson is a jealous has been. Instead of worrying about how Obama is running his campaign, maybe he should take Obama’s advice and be more concerned with being a father to his illegitimate child.

    July 10, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  14. Karen - Missouri

    Is this all we have for news? Jackson makes his comment as his own opinion. Yet, McCain's advisor says we're whining??? That there's no recession? Why doesn't CNN stop with the tabloid style news and do the voters a favor? CNN has been on Obama's butt since the primaries and it's time for McCain to take some heat.

    Why not a story on McCain's horrible temper?

    July 10, 2008 at 3:15 pm |
  15. Maxine Thompson

    Maybe Barack's speech about fatherhood hit a little too close to home for the Right Reverend Chickenwing!!

    July 10, 2008 at 3:13 pm |
  16. Jesse is eating that bitter bill of Jealousy

    Jesse is Jealous and suffers from 'Obama Envy', Jesse knows it, his son knows it, I know it and the entire black community knows it.

    Jesse stammered throughout the CNN interview because he knows as a ‘Reverend’ what you THINK is what you are. It’s not okay for Jesse to THINK these words nevertheless speak them. These are strong indications of jealousy, bitterness and envy. Senator Obama has not forgotten his roots (on BOTH sides of his family) and when Jesse injects HIS accomplishments he shows the world he has become a diseased dinosaur bitten with the bitter pill of Envy. To sum things up; Jesse has ‘Obama Envy’.

    July 10, 2008 at 3:06 pm |
  17. Maritza

    Roland , your bias is showing. Do you dream of Obama?

    July 10, 2008 at 3:02 pm |
  18. King JG 7

    Dr. King once stated in a speech as he reflected on the Montgomery Bus Boycott, "That's what we got to learn in the North, Negroes have to learn to stick together". This poor choice of words changes the image that was fixed in my mind as I watched Rev. Jackson weep with Andrew Young and John Lewis at the gorundbreaking ceremony for the Dr. King's Memorial in Novemer 2006. Were those tears sincere or was it just another way to get the spotlight on him ? It's a sad fact that these comments are related to the arrogance of wearing the fraternal colors of purple and gold. Like Bill, Like Jerimiah, like Jesse. WAKE UP!!! It's not about YOU!!

    July 10, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  19. Dion

    WOW!!! This is awesome!! The only comment I have is for Roland to keep telling the truth...after all, it is "supposed" to make us free!!

    July 10, 2008 at 3:00 pm |
  20. Mac McCall

    Well done Roland, you hit it right on the head. Its time to stop sweeping the dirt under the rug. Barack shows courage at a time when most (Jessie) cower because its too hard to discuss. Whatever !
    I applaud this article and Barack's speech on the black family.

    July 10, 2008 at 2:57 pm |
  21. Ricab

    This is so true... I am glad that you are speaking the truth. It's time for everyone to face the truth and stop running from what happening to america. Even if it is a black problem now, it is America's problem too. Because sooner or later it is going to affect all America. I just want to say THANK YOU!!!!!!

    July 10, 2008 at 2:51 pm |
  22. Ruby Coria, LA. CA.

    Roland, I think you should go on FOX/NEWS..they would dig your input.. Rev. Jackson should not stop with "Saint Obama's" nuts~ off with all the nuts & then some. Roland relax justbe glad a white dude didn't say that, because you & all the Rev.'s would send all the white's to hell & back.. exclude us mexican's we're not in it – thank the Lord.
    No Crying in politics.

    July 10, 2008 at 2:47 pm |

    THANK YOU BROTHER ROLAND................ I KNEW IT WAS A REASON THAT I LOVED YOU..................


    July 10, 2008 at 2:47 pm |
  24. LJimenez


    Barack Obama is talking down on everybody...not just African Americans. Remember guns and religion and clinging????

    You have a real problem in your hands. Face it. Fix it. Spinning it won't help.

    About being relevant...Mr. Jackson was next to Martin Luther King during the civil rights movement...

    July 10, 2008 at 2:47 pm |
  25. Anthony

    This just goes to show Jesse Jackson is a Racist, He cannot stand to to see a person who is not Racist and Half Black Half White running for the white house so he says things like that. And I don't care if he apologizes...if and when Obama becomes president we will see whose nuts will be cut off hahahaha.. It is funny how this guy who claims to be someone who brings good to people just causes trouble all the time..We should send him and Sharpton off to Iraq just to be rid of them they cause more Racist Tension then anyone anywhere...

    July 10, 2008 at 2:46 pm |
  26. Cliff Stewart

    Jesse Jackson is an antiquated, and useless, if not worthless relic of the past. I have had serious issue with him since he did nothing to pick up and wear the mantle that Dr. King was gunned down in. Obviously, jealousy is the fuel of the fire that spews from his lips. He constantly gushes rhetoric about the unity of the black community, but when he's upstaged by a viable candidate, he can't handle it. It's another example of the tribal ignorance that plagues Black America: when someone gets one rung higher on the ladder, there will always be someone there to pull them down. It would be most prudent if Bro Jesse would just bow out and fade away. He has been the catalyst for so much negativity toward us that it kills him to see another black man actually accomplishing something. It's sad to say, but he will do us the best service when he dies.

    July 10, 2008 at 2:38 pm |
  27. Sandra Martin

    Leave God out of the race! This is turning into what everyone said it would. A election based on race. African Americans would vote for Obama even if Binladen was his buddy. Jackson may not like Obama and may think he is not to bright but he is backing him because of his race. No problem with electing a black person as long as he/she can do the job. Obama can't! Why do you think he was a candidate? Because he is bright? No because he is easy to manipulate. Clinton was not! Last election you got terrorized into voting for Bush again, now you want an historic election when you are in a recession! How much world respect do you want to lose. Thank God for Jackson, at least he is honest!

    July 10, 2008 at 2:37 pm |
  28. Kristen- Philadelphia, PA

    Hi Roland, I agree with most of what you said. I just would like to know what kind of reverend who wants to cut someone’s balls off?

    July 10, 2008 at 2:37 pm |
  29. jeanne

    I am a die hard Republican and supporter of McCcain but with that said I am also a Christian first and formost and the remarks that Jackson said against Barrak are anything but Christian.But who am I to judge for we all have our moments when we do something sinful. After all we have all sinned and fallen short of the Glory of God. Jessies Jackson did appologize to Barrack and hopefully he is seeking out the Lord right now for his forgiveness which he freely gives to any one who asks.
    Although I disagree w/ Barrack on National Security, taxes, etc etc..I do admire the man for standing up and bringing to light the issues of the black community and it's not just a black community issue, there are plenty of whites, hispanics, ect ect..that are single parents...this is a moral issue in the US and it is what is pulling this country down to the depts of despair and this issue MUST be addressed. It MUST be addressed by the church today. It must be addressed and not ignored by our lawmakers. We must do more to educate these girls and to help single mothers get in the work force. So although I will not be voting for Barrack because of other issues that affect our very exzistance, I applaud him on this...
    And Jessie Jackson needs to stand aside and let the younger generation build on the foundation of their forfathers.

    July 10, 2008 at 2:37 pm |
  30. Jannie Williams

    Thank you! You expressed my senitments perfectly! I am apalled that a spokesperson for God could even come out of his mouth with such nonsense! Rev. Jesse Jackson, in my opinion, built the foundation for Barack Obama to now become a strong viable African-American candidate. That is what he should focus on. Instead, though, he is displaying his jealousy. Rev Jackson's time was then but Barack time is now!

    The other comment I wanted to make is this: Where is CNN getting these idiots who are spewing nothing but garbage aimed at dismissing Barack Obama as elistist, racist, sexist and anything else they can label him with. Please tell them to stop! Enough is Enough! I like CNN but I will stop watching it as I have stopped watching Fox News!!

    Thanks! Please have a great time on your cruise! Don't worry! God has Barqck covered from head to toe!

    J. Williams

    July 10, 2008 at 2:31 pm |
  31. Ruth Bond


    I agree 100 percent. Thank you for clarifying the issues for us!

    Martinez, Ca

    July 10, 2008 at 2:26 pm |
  32. Jenny Rome Georgia

    Thank you Mr Martin. Well written and very accurate.

    July 10, 2008 at 2:20 pm |
  33. Melvin Hadley

    While many of my generation may feel the presumptive nominee Obama may be "talking down" to those African-American men who have faithfuly fathered their children, the truth of the matter is Obama must move center stream in American politics if he is to be elected. Now is not the time for petty bickering over his choice of words or venues chosen to address our societial shortcomings as an ethnic group. Nor should we expect Obama to be our champion, he is not that either.
    Stay focus, bring our troops home, redirect our source of energy from foreign to domestic, pay our teachers decent salaries and return America to its dominance of the global market. Leave what is said in our churches and private conversations out of the public debate on whether Obamo is black enough for Jesse.

    July 10, 2008 at 2:19 pm |
  34. Fitz A. Bannister Sr.

    Rev. Jackson should be honest about it. Deep down inside when he thought he was going to be the next president, he was confident. Now he can see that a black man can be president also and a woman too. It's not a good thing to criticize. Especially someone that is the same color and nationality as you. Rev. Jackson should be glad and want to be as helpful as possible and do whatever is necessary to help Senator Obama. Rev. Jackson has paved the way and given Senator Obama the chance to run for President. He said something wrong and it hurts not just black people but everyone. The United States wasn't ready for a black man or a woman to be president, but it's the right time for it to happen. It's Rev. Jackson's fault and he is responsible for whatever he say's. If you are in the public eye, you have to be careful for whatever you say, on and off camera. He should ask his son for forgiveness and his love and to help him remember that the past was a real thing and not just in his head.

    July 10, 2008 at 2:17 pm |
  35. George Guthrie

    I have CNN on most of the day, and I have heard Jesse Jackson many times. This latest goof and some others make me wonder how he can still call himself "Reverend". I have known some "Reverends" but none like him !!!!

    July 10, 2008 at 2:17 pm |
  36. Errol

    If your not a part of the solution, then your a part of the probrem.

    One Love

    July 10, 2008 at 2:14 pm |
  37. tom wallace

    It is nothing new for a politician to speak out of both sides of their mouth. But Jesse Jackson is the foremost expert at this. What he says to the public is what he wants people to hear – not what he thinks or believes in. His ultimate goal is what is best for him, his ego, and finances. If you think he is anymore than that – take a good look at his record and other "I didn't know the mike was hot" remarks over the years – it tells a competely different story – yet one closed ot the truth of what he is – and it is not a pretty picture.

    July 10, 2008 at 2:13 pm |
  38. Cindy

    Way to go my man!! You took the words right out of my mouth! Jesse is just in this thing for his own gain. He has lost touch with reality and with his faith. He is too busy trying to make it all about him! He needs to realize that he isn't all that anymore and step aside and shut up. He causes more problems than the law allows! LOL

    What is so wrong with all men, not just blacks stepping up and taking responsibilities for their actions? Why does Jesse have a problem with Obama saying that? Does he think that no one notices that we have a great problem in this nation when it comes to men having nothing to do with their kids or having them left and right, walking out, and never looking back? He needs to wake up and realize that we all see it! It can't be hidden by not talking about it.


    July 10, 2008 at 2:12 pm |
  39. Jon

    The biggest problem is that people continue to listen to this loon. He has been full of hot air and enflamitory comments for as long as I can remember. He never has anything productive or helpfull to say about anything. America needs to stop paying attention to him, the news media needs to stop asking for his opinion on anything and maybe if we are lucky he will fade into oblivion. So instead of having two outspoken, long winded, people roaming the streets fanning racial flames everywhere we'll only have one...Rev Al Sharpton. I mean seriously if I wanted to hear a skewed opinion on an issue I could go to any preschool and ask a 3 year old his or her views on politics.

    July 10, 2008 at 2:11 pm |
  40. Larry

    Roland. That was one of the best essays I have read on the subject. Thank you.

    July 10, 2008 at 2:10 pm |
  41. Tonia Emanuel

    What else is there to say but well put.

    July 10, 2008 at 2:09 pm |
  42. Jenn/Monrovia, CA

    This painfully reminds me of a situation growing up. I grew up in a small town where teenagers, children, were dying from drunken accidents, girls as young as 12 and 13 were becoming pregnant, and kids were underachieving in school and in life, and when someone I love and adore stood up at a public forum and started to really call people on the carpet on these issues, there was a nasty backlash from the moral leaders of the community. I never understood, it made sense to me these things should be addressed, and yet the leadership of the town would rather turn a blind eye and blame the economic downturns and lack of opportunities that was occuring in our area at the time, rather than addressing some other pretty obvious facts about how they were allowing their own children to get away from them.

    Thankfully, my parents allowed no such behavior, and I have to say I turned out pretty OK in the end.

    July 10, 2008 at 2:08 pm |
  43. Teresa Turner

    Perhaps Rev. Jackson is jealous of not being in the same position as Obama for the presidential run. Obama has accomplished what Jackson could not. Also it is human nature to make comments about each other. Jackson did at the wrong place and at the wrong time. To say that in a news room with all of the big ears and big mouths in that room is like walking into a land mine field.

    July 10, 2008 at 2:08 pm |
  44. Esther in VA

    I couldn't agree more Roland, well put. If leaders spent half as much time building people up as they do tearing them down, maybe we could get something worthwhile done.

    July 10, 2008 at 2:07 pm |
  45. Harley Manning

    How different the story is now the the Rev. Jackson has talked "trash".
    He was the first in line to bash Don Imus along with his buddy the Rev. Al Sharpton, who thinks the Rev. Jackson's comments should be forgiven. H.M.

    July 10, 2008 at 2:06 pm |
  46. Byron Maxwell

    I can excuse Jesse Jackson. His views are legitimate but somewhat out of touch while current reality. What I cannot forgive is Fox News for their airing of a clearly private communication. Have these folks any common sense of common decency???

    July 10, 2008 at 2:06 pm |
  47. Anna - chicago ,il

    I can't agree with you more Roland and I appreciate you taking time to share your opinion with us..I think what Obama is speaking about (taking responsibility) is something that Jackson should truly embrace because it is a path to some real action and results for all Americans (not just those in the African-American community). Would Jackson rather Obama say that there is no moral responsibility and blame everything on society..that would not result in any CHANGE.

    July 10, 2008 at 2:05 pm |
  48. UE Uche, CT

    I am very disappointed and shocked with Rev. Jackson's comment no matter how trash he considers it. If gold rusts what will iron do? With his civil right history he should know better unless he is mad that Barack has come from "nowhere" to reap the fruit of his 54 year old labor. Rev. Jackson please leave Barack alone, people are now more interested in higher ideals and are sick and tired of destructive comment like yours that does no person any good regardless of race.
    I am black and I am shocked and disgusted with your comment soaked in bitterness and jealousy.

    UE Uche, CT

    July 10, 2008 at 2:02 pm |
  49. Morris

    The whole thing reaks of double racial standards! If Jessie Jackson was white and he had said to cut off a black mans genitals, he would be protesting racial discrimation along with Al Sharpton!!

    July 10, 2008 at 1:55 pm |
  50. Jessica

    Thank You, Roland, for telling it like it is!!

    July 10, 2008 at 1:55 pm |
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