Jesse Jackson’s American Screed

Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. thinks America is going to hell in a hand basket.

  • “Some Americans seem to believe that we have done enough to achieve justice.”
  • “A decade ago there were 40 million uninsured people. Today the number is closer to 50 million.”
  • “There is greater income inequality and more poverty.”
  • “Average Americans have lost trillions of dollars in family wealth….”
  • “Our incarceration rate continues to grow….”
  • “Fewer boys are finishing college and …”
  • “… the rate at which we produce engineers is dropping.”
  • “We rank lower in health outcomes than much poorer nations.”
  • “Racial profiling, abuse of prosecutorial discretion, excessive use of police force, runaway juries, disparate sentencing and selective prosecution are generally accepted as normal, not exceptional.”
  • “… too much race discrimination lurks in our work places.”
  • “Instead of looking at our immigrant population as a strength to be cultivated, we ignore, or pander to them.”
  • “Our civil rights apparatus is fraying. There is a trend away from joining and supporting organizations – churches, unions, and civil rights organizations.”
  • “Perhaps the most disturbing trend is away from the universal franchise. The right to vote secures every other right. We are encountering stiff headwinds that threaten to undermine democracy itself. Despite “Citizens United”, money is not speech.”

My goodness! If things are this bad after only four years of President Obama, how bad will they be after eight?

More troubling than Rev. Jackson’s list of particulars in his long indictment of his country is his officiously offensive assumption that his policy preferences represent “the high road” and that those of us who disagree with him “travel in the opposite direction and move the nation away from equal opportunity and justice,” that we are in effect un-American.

“Affirmative action is under attack,” he notes correctly, and his conclusion is even largely correct:

America is not a race, or a religion, color or language. America is built on a set of noble, but fragile premises: All men are created equal; one person-one vote; majority rule. It is these principles that make the American experiment work – undoing them could unravel the fabric of the nation.

What Jackson cannot comprehend is that those of us who attack affirmative action do so not because we reject but specifically because we affirm the “noble, but fragile” premise that all men are created equal, a premise traditionally expressed in that foundational principle of the American creed asserting that we have a right to be treated without regard to race, creed, or color. It is Jackson and those of like mind who have turned their backs on that principle.

Finally, but by no means least, Jackson, who built his reputation preaching personal responsibility, now positively disdains individual initiative and self-help. He points to a rising flood of misery and oppression but preaches that its victims should not learn to swim!

Rugged individualism is no substitute for institutional voices for justice and equality.

Noah built an ark to withstand the flood. Those who could swim died outside the ark. Those who could not swim survived inside the ark. Good swimmers can’t swim 40 days and 40 nights. We need strong institutional bulwarks to protect us from exclusion and prejudice.

Behold Jesse Jackson, the arketypical liberal.

Say What?