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Jesse Jackson Says Obama "Acting White"

Jesse Jackson

The Rev. Jesse Jackson leads a group of protesters demonstrating in front of the manufacturing facilities of D. S. Arms in August 2007. Scott Olson, Getty Images hide caption

toggle caption Scott Olson, Getty Images

Expect to hear more about this in the coming days: "The Rev. Jesse Jackson called Tuesday on Democrats seeking the 2008 nomination for president to give S.C. voters 'something to vote for' when they go to the polls in January.

Jackson sharply criticized presidential hopeful and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for 'acting like he's white' in what Jackson said has been a tepid response to six black juveniles' arrest on attempted-murder charges in Jena, La. Jackson, who also lives in Illinois, endorsed Obama in March, according to The Associated Press."

Here's what bloggers have to say:

From Politopics:

"Just from my viewpoint, at my law school, some of the angriest people about this issue are white students, so he is insulting white people by equating their skin color with their values. Also, 'acting like he's white' is a bunch of high school BS. I was accused of 'acting like I think I'm white' by other black students in high school for trying to excel academically. Grow up."

From Hot Air:

"What's more obnoxious — equating Obama's refusal to behave exactly as Jackson wants him to with racial inauthenticity, the fact that Jackson would make that rhetorical move so casually as not even to remember it afterwards, the offhand insult to whites who are interested in the Jena case and support the defendants, or the fact that he's conveniently overlooking the fact that Obama is white on his mother's side? Or is that the point, to remind black voters that his blood isn't 100% 'authentic'?"

From RedState:

"I think there's more at play here than meets the eye. The last thing Jesse wants, regardless of how the 2008 campaign plays out, is the end of racial politics. And Barack Obama is a black man running a non-racial campaign ... Of course, Jesse wants Jena to become the new Selma — what doesn't he want to become the new Selma? It's good business for him. If there's no Selma, there's no Jesse."

From Marc Ambinder:

"Jackson doesn't seem to understand Barack Obama or his candidacy, which is surprising, because Jackson is a supporter, albeit one who Obama has not seen fit to draw into his inner circle. (The reporter David Mendell, in his new book about Obama, has a great anecdote about how Jackson, spying Obama's daughter Sasha at an inauguration event, lifted her up and put her on a small pedestal to pose for pictures. When the cameras stop flashing, Jackson stepped away, leaving his three-year-old girl teetering on a tall block of concrete.) Barack Obama, while acknowledging that he owes a significant debt to Jesse Jackson, is not running as the candidate of the Democratic urban machine, or as the candidate of African Americans, or as the candidate of the African American political establishment. His run, its assumptions and the way Obama interacts with the establishment is predicated on difference ... Obama is literally a generation away from Jesse Jackson and would therefore not be expected to share his outlook, worldview, predispositions or habits."

From Moderate Voice:

"He's like Bill O'Reilly who decides that anyone who doesn't agree with him is somehow of questionable character. Likewise Reverend Baby Daddy, as he has done in the past, is assuming that any black public figure who doesn't act in the way he thinks they should isn't 'authentically black' because somehow he is the barometer of whatever 'authentically black' is."

I'm reminded of what former Virginia governor Douglas Wilder said: "So many people have made a living off of the pimping of race. I told [Obama] when he runs, one of his big problems he would have is with the African-American leadership, as such. He didn't question it. He said, 'I think I know what you mean.' "

What say you?

UPDATE (9/20): Jackson Does Not Recall Saying Obama is "Acting Like He's White."



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Sounds like professional jealousy to me: that is, Obama's behavior does not parody Jesse's angst ridden parody of himself as a legitimate black leader. Maybe Jesse would forgive Obama if he comes up with some faux rap crap slogan...but wait a minute: isn't it Obama saying and showing how the Nation can keep Hope alive. Jesse's just mad cause Obama doesn't want to use HIS own candidacy to blackmail the Democratic Party like he did. Pitiful.

Sent by Gloria Alee | 2:00 PM | 9-19-2007

Oh My God! First of all, since when has Jesse Jackson been relevant (at least to the people of my generation)? I'm tired of the media using two people with Jackson been one of them as the voice of all black people.

Second, he confirms the ignorance of some folks musings of whether Obama is black enough. I've already wrote a commentary (and answered some comments) about that, so I don't want to delve into such topic any further. But I wouldn't have imagined such comment would come from one of civil rights pioneers.

Finally, leaders are supposed to lead by example. Well, this is one example I choose to denounce.

Sent by Moji | 2:12 PM | 9-19-2007

When is the day of irrelevance for Rev. Jackson coming? From a principled man who marched with DR. King and others to just being a "noise maker" endears him to no one regardless of race.
This may point to the larger issue of the state of Black leaders in modern America. Why did it take so long to champion these kids' rights? This sh*t has been all over the black blogosphere for months. My thinking is if the conviction was not thrown out the Reverend may never even have opened his mouth.
Selma was long time ago Reverend -- Obama is not cut from the same cloth as you. Using rhetorical racial alienation won't even help win a rock, paper, scissors contest let alone a Presidential nomination. One day I hope the black leaders of this country can come together. My 11 year old son asked if Reverend Jackson and Sen. Obama liked each other. I'm still trying to come up with an answer.

Sent by BlackinUSA | 2:16 PM | 9-19-2007

Why isn't Jesse calling out any other political candidates? I think Gloria is right it's professional jealousy. Maybe he's still salty over Joseph Biden's ignorant comments about Barack being the first mainstream African-American presidential candidate who is articulate and bright, clean and a nice-looking. Whatever his motivation, he should be ashamed.

Sent by Markus | 2:50 PM | 9-19-2007

You know what is funny? I have not been on the Obama bandwagon like many others. I have nothing against the brother. Heck, I am not high on any candidate right now. However, his emergence is significant.

Even if Senator Obama does not win the nomination or the Presidency his ascent is helping usher in a new day in Black politics. Since Jesse and his like will not step aside and let a new generation come in we need new blood it is refreshing to see Obama disregard them and do his own thing.

While I do not agree with all of Senator Obama's politics I like the fact he is not allowing the old guard to define his "Blackness" or give him their stamp of approval. For that, he gets much kudos from me.

Sent by TR | 3:53 PM | 9-19-2007

Truly remarkable; facing the clutches of irrelevance, Jackson is sacrificing his last remnants of dignity in exchange for a few more moments at a podium. Unfortunately I suspect his sentiment is shared by many "plenipotentiaries" of the race-based politics generation. Instead of yielding and embracing progress, some find it more rewarding to perpetuate or incite the sentiments of which they gained power.

Sent by RM | 4:46 PM | 9-19-2007

Also, lest we forget: it WAS Jesse Jackson who appeared on TV after the assassination of MLK with-- HE SAID-- King's blood on him because HE was with King at the time of his death. He has always been a "pimpy" kind of opportunist promoting himself in the guise of speaking to/for the interests of Black America. And, from my perspective, the only folks who bought into his rhetoric were the frightened Democrats and the secretary he impregnated many years ago. He needs to learn the same lesson Bill Clinton did: SHUT UP and let my wife talk!

Sent by Gloria Alee | 6:46 PM | 9-19-2007

J.J. needs to grow up and sit in a rocking chair.

Sent by anthony | 3:16 PM | 9-20-2007

I understand the frustration and response to the words that Jesse Jackson chose to use about Senator Obama. I think that we all make mistakes and in a loving way we need to let Jesse know that we do not accept the public riducule of another brother in this situation. If he has a thought or feeling that Brother Obama is not standing up for African American in this case he should communicate with Obama directly and offer recommendations on how he might be of assistance or effectively provide support.

I know that Jesse knows that it takes strategy and discipline to accomplish great feats. There are enough of us to fight this battle. Obama does not have to fight every battle. He is working hard to do his part and we must all do ours. So let's not return the mistake that brother Jackson has made by now discrediting/dishonoring him.

Sent by TI | 2:25 PM | 9-21-2007

Marc Ambinter? Michelle Malkin's racist "Hot Air?" Politopics? Moderate Voice? Each one of these is either a right wing blog or faux "Here's what bloggers have to say" you should have written "here's what the right wing has to say about Jesse and Obama." (And we know the right wing loves Jesse and Obama!)

Sent by kirk | 9:15 PM | 9-23-2007

Why does this race thing matter at all?

People should be more concerned what is in the hearts and minds of humans than skin color. Besides, races on planet Earth are NOT pure. The entire human species are a race of 100% mutts (get used to it).

The real news is that Jesse Jackson is announcing to the world just how extremely racist he is. For Jesse it is not the person or mind it's the color of the skin that matters!

Jesse has become everything he hates.

Sent by steama | 12:43 PM | 10-3-2007


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