Thursday, November 6, 2008

Jesse Jackson and Crocodile Tears?

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No one questions Jesse Jacksons commitment to civil rights. He marched alongside Dr.King and has dedicated his entire life to improving the lives of blacks.   Until recently he was held with the highest of regard by many in the black community. 

I believe it is fair to say that he tarnished his beautiful legacy by his commentary on Barack Obama.  Who could forget the open mike incident where he announced that Barack was, "talking down to black people" and expressed a desire to "cut his nuts off".  This commentary was so offensive that even his own son had to publicly disassociate himself from his father.

One would believe that after publicly embarrassing yourself like that, Jesse would want to maintain a low profile until at least after the election, but of course that was not the case. 

Jackson first made his Anti-Semitism known by declaring New York City "Hymietown" in 1984.  Proving that time, in this case twenty-four years, does not necessarily change a man, The New York Post reported that  Jackson announced at a World Policy Forum "Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades" remain strong, they'll lose a great deal of their clout when Barack Obama enters the White House.  There are indeed  issues with American foreign policy as it relates to Israel; but calling it  a Zionist nation when you have a history of Anti-Semitic slurs, could hardly be referred to as helping Obama get elected.

Well this brings me to the question I wrote this post to ask.  Across the blogosphere people are discussing Jackson's response to the election of Barack Obama.  Many have said that Jackson is a man that purposefully tried to sabotage Baracks election out of jealousy, and a desperate bid to retain his relevancy.  They posit that Jackson's tear streamed face was nothing more than an emotional play.

There are also those that believe that as a man that has seen some of the worst of racism in America, Jacksons tears were an expression of joy and happiness.

So my question to you today readers is, given what we know about Jackson's behaviour, was his response a  heartfelt expression of emotion?  I am very curious to read your answers as the "unhubby" and I are in disagreement on this issue. Play referee for us.


24 comments:

Thutmose Fela KMT said...

It's funny that you bring this up because some of my old college teammates argued about this earlier today and my response was..."In Jesse's defense he wasn't aware that he was being recorded at the time and do you really believe that he wanted to "cut his nuts off?" It was colloquial jargon. Those were real tears you don't fake that. After such a long journey to see such a victory was something he never imagined. i'm extremely critical of Barack but at the end of the dirty rotten day i'm proud of him. This is a big deal to Jesse however Americans still have a long way to go as a society."

hexy said...

I think even someone who had opposed Obama and who has his own array of faults could still appreciate the enormity of what he was seeing in front of him.

Emily S said...

I have my problems with Jesse Jackson and felt that his 'not black enough' jibe was as deeply wrong as his several anti-semitic rants. A man in his position, with the work he has done for civil rights, just can't let his prejudices show (and both of those statements clearly show deep prejudices as bad as the racism he has fought so long against).

However, that said, I can honestly believe that the realisation that Obama had won really brought those tears to his eyes. I feel that a great many of his own battles have helped Obama reach this point and many of the remaining battles will now have a new anchor point in this win. That's a good reason for tears of happiness, isn't it? :)

Scott said...

Everyone walking the planet has said or done something they wish they could take back. I believe Jessie Jackson was moved by the moment.

FeministGal said...

I do think his emotion was genuine- though i really wanted to comment on your statement about Jackson's Zionist quote, "There are indeed issues with American foreign policy as it relates to Israel; but calling it a Zionist nation when you have a history of Anti-Semitic slurs, could hardly be referred to as helping Obama get elected."

That single quote created so much drama within my family that most of them did not vote for Obama because of it. Oh trust me, i tried and tried to explain and rationalize that Jackson should not be associated with Obama right now (referencing the cutting his nuts off comment) but the damage was, unfortunately, done.

Ebony Intuition said...

I still debating if his tears were real or fake.

White Trash Academic said...

I want to believe that they were real and in that moment he was remembering walking along side Dr. King.

Danyell said...

Wait, you think he "tarnished his beautiful legacy" only recently? Even you said that he's been making anti-Semitic remarks publicly since at least 1984, but his comments about Obama are what make him no longer credible? He's been little more than an opportunist for years, swooping in where ever racism rears its ugly head so he can get a few minutes of face time on TV. I mean, he's not nearly as bad as Al Sharpton, but it's hard to take either one of them seriously. They've made a joke out of the cause and it's very sad, because they could be doing so much good.

Renee said...

@Danyell trying to be diplomatic about the whole thing.

Sarah J said...

A guy doesn't have to not be an asshole to be moved by that moment.

Many, many people expressed doubt in Barack Obama, cynicism, or even didn't vote for him and were still crying real tears, were thrilled and happy to see Obama win.

Debating his anti-Semitic remarks and opportunism is another argument entirely, but I believe he was genuinely crying.

Queers United said...

I felt it was mixed. He knew the impact of the situation and felt moved but also was upset its not him.

ottermatic said...

Count me in with the folks who believe he was moved by the moment. I had the great honor to be in Grant park that night and the enormity of the moment was awesome, in the original sense of the word. I agree with hexy, Scott, and SarahJ.

frau sally benz said...

I think his tears were real, but my guy and I are also in disagreement as to what they mean and if we should care or not.

I say that Jackson has oftentimes done more harm than good for the African American community. Apart from his hateful statements, he also has a tendency of giving the community a crutch and using race as a defense. Because of this, I wasn't particularly moved by seeing him cry.

My guy says that while he agrees with me, he was moved more so b/c of what it must be like for him to have lived through MLK, the years since then and now to see Obama at this point. My guy thinks that he must've been wondering where he went wrong to not have made it to that point and realizing that years of giving blacks a crutch may have done more harm than good.

So he felt bad for him while I felt that only made it worse.

Mercedes said...

I think that his emotion was genuine. I think for him to was probably overwhelming emotion. I'm white, but I was teary eyed when hearing the results of the election and seeing Obama's speech. I think a lot of people were moved by the historic moment, the amazing achievement of a minority and also - the end of Bush!!

I did read a statement that Jackson released saying that not only was he moved by the moment, but he was thinking of his friends - MLK, Rosa Parks - and many others who had given their lives to make way for something like this to happen. He said that he felt they should have been there too because it was THEIR moment as well. And that, I think, is right on.

Donna said...

We were watching when Jackson was dry-eyed, then looked over and saw a camera on him. Next thing you know he's crying. We thought he was doing it for the cameras. We also made wise cracks that he was crying because it wasn't him up there.

Anonymous said...

I think in all probability his tears were genuine. Someone who is a complete asshole on an array of subjects can still be moved by something he thought he'd never see.

Now. Consign Jackson to the dustbin of history already, 'k? Cause he's passed his time and better and more able people should (and have) taken his place.

ripley said...

I thought they were genuine.

As many have said, just because he has been & done some stupid & assholish things, it doesn't mean he is so empty as not not recognize the enormity of the moment.

SunlessNick said...

I think there has to be genuine feeling there - he was raised in an era when black people couldn't vote, and now a black person has been elected President. No matter what flaws he may or may not have (I don't really know enough to venture an opinion there) - and whatever he thinks of Obama - I can't believe for a moment that this hasn't touched him right in the heart.

nia said...

Instead of vilifying him and making a laughing stock out of him, younger black people should have picked up the mantle and continued the hard work that he and Rev. Sharpton started in the 60's. Despite his current mistakes and how we may feel about him today, we owe him a debt of gratitude for his hard work and sacrifice years ago.

Maritzia said...

I was watching when CNN showed him. The emotion on his face was genuine. You could absolutely hate Obama's guts and still be emotionally moved by the fact that a black man would be our next president.

As a matter of fact, I know several people who, although they voted for him, weren't entirely behind the Obama candidacy. And yet, like me, when they saw him on that stage in Chicago, they had tears in their eyes at the enormity of what was happening. And we're white. I can't even imagine what that moment means to African American, especially one of Mr. Jackson's age, who lived through the very worst of racism in our country.

So, yes, I think it was absolutely genuine.

SMMO said...

He's devoted his life to service. So, despite his many flaws and mistakes I'm inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt and feel his emotion was genuine.

What Nia said. Let's not throw away the baby with the bathwater, okay youngsters?

Jenn said...

I don't know, honestly. I'm a member of several repressed groups: women, homosexuals, and Jews. Would I be crying in happiness if that douche Lieberman was elected? Hell no. Would I be even momentarily pleased if Palin was in office? You bet not. Do I like it when a gay man who won a prominent fashion position uses that publicity to utter slurs about transsexuals and fat people? Uh, no.

My guess is that Jessie Jackson does agree with Obama a bit. Maybe he got caught up in the fervor. I did, even though I didn't decide to vote for Obama until I saw that my state's race was close (if anyone must know, it was McKinney I was gunning for). Jackson's a horrible anti-Semite, and isn't so great with women either. But he's dedicated his life to the awareness of racial inequalities, and I highly doubt that seeing a black man--one that isn't totally out of step with his opinion--get elected isn't moving. It was moving for me too.

But if Obama was out of step with Jackson to a large degree, I would say the tears would be bullshit.

Amanda Marcotte said...

I'm late to this thread, but Jackson's tears struck me as very real. It made me start tearing up all over again when they panned to him. There are moments in life when all bickering falls away and we can appreciate that we have more in common with each other than difference. Obama's election was that moment for much of the country. Certainly Jackson felt it.

Kit said...

I suspect his emotion was real on all three occasions. Jesse Jackson is not a perfect man for all he has accomplished.It isn't really fair to expect him to be. I suspect he really is an anti-semite inside, though he may never have done more than make a crude comment with the emotion. His support for Obama may not have been whole-hearted, but it was real. One can have reservations about a candidate without withdrawing support.He surely had enough of an acquaintance with Obama to know his flaws to some degree. Obama may or may not have been his choice for the first black president, but he's what Jackson - and the rest of us - get. I'm not even sure it was anything more than a stupid bad joke, but the person it hurt was not Obama, but Jackson. (I know more than one lovely and good man who's idea of a good joke is to say something outrageous with a straight face and wait for everyone to fall on the floor laughing. Mostly they wait in vain.) But even if one takes the most negative view of Jackson possible, I think he has a lifetime of work for civil rights for black people and that had to be a moment of triumph and joy for him.