What on Earth Do We Make of Jesse Jackson?

John ArmstrongRace and Racism

Jesse Jackson cannot avoid the news cycle. He is either running here or there in an attempt to free prisoners overseas or he’s making another "racist" statement that should offend millions of black Americans. I am not sure that his statements offend large numbers of black people but they do offend me!

Not only did Rev. Jackson mock Senator Obama, in a recently captured private statement, but he also used the N-word during a break in the same TV interview. Jackson apologized to Obama for the first statement and then apologized again last week for his use of the N-word. People ask, "How can he do this?" Simply put: "Out of the heart the mouth speaks." Basic biblical principle 101: Jackson thinks this way or he wouldn’t speak this way. This is the same person who referred to the Jews with similarly offensive language some years ago. And this is a Baptist minister who covered-up a long-standing sexual indiscretion that produced a child. It took tabloid journalism to finally reveal this moral breakdown.

In the words captured on the recent video tape Jackson referred to Obama as "talking down to black people" and to other blacks with the N-word. We all know that black ghetto youth and rappers use the N-word routinely to refer to one another. I have always found it interesting that if I used the N-word, and I was taught to never use it or I would be severely punished (by my godly parents in the pre-Civil Rights South no less), then I would be widely vilified. But if Jesse Jackson uses it he gets away with a mild apology.  Jackson apologized for using "hurtful words." Please, that’s all he can say?

This is also the same minister who once opposed abortion and admitted that it would result in the killing of millions of black Americans. He then changed his view at a time when he had no choice politically if he wanted to retain power and influence in the party of his choice. So much for strong moral and ethical convictions.

Jesse Jackson Sr.’s whole life seems to be one mess-up and disappointment after another. I find his attempt to present leadership to millions repugnant in the light of the moral standards a minister should adhere to in his life and speech. And when he falls his apologies are always so predictable and lame that it makes you wonder about him even more.

I wish I was wrong here but the evidence is so startling that I cannot understand why Jackson is still seen as a great leader by so many people, especially within the African-American Christian community. I do not doubt that he has done some good but I wonder how this cancels out the words that fall so freely from his lips, words that clearly undermine his moral standing and profoundly harm others.

The old saying, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me" is a myth if there ever was one. Words can heal and words can destroy. I know this much—Jesse Jackson’s words are often in the second category. They destroy others. I pray that Rev. Jackson will show more than temporary remorse for his frequent offensive actions and statements. This is not about politics at all. Its about a minister who doesn’t walk the walk!