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Silencing Jesse Jackson
By Jonathan Elendu
Special to USAfricaonline.comand NigeriaCentral.com
The world woke up on Thursday, January 18, 2001, to yet anothersex scandal; another debate about the moral direction of one of ourleaders; another debate about privacy and leadership. This time it isthe Rev. Jesse Louis Jackson, who is in the mix. Apparently he washaving an affair with a Rainbow/Push Coalition staffer during theClinton impeachment saga, while he was ministering to the embattledPresident. A child is the product of his affair.
It was reported that Jackson told his wife and children about hisindiscretion about a year and half ago. This is another sad face ofpolitics in America. The end of the 90s saw the American politicallandscape awash in "politics of personal destruction" and hypocrisyin high places. This has become a vicious cycle that engulfs all.
I have no opinions about the Reverend's extramarital affair. I amadvised by an interview his wife of 38 years, Jackie Jackson, gavesometime ago in 1988 when she said, "I don't want to talk aboutanybody's extramarital affairs. If my husband is having an affairwith another woman I don't want him to tell me about it and I don'twant you telling me about it....." Wise woman; I must say.
I neither applaud nor condemn Jesse Jackson's lifestyle. This is aposition I have maintained even before this time. I said the samething during the Monica Lewinsky saga; a man's infidelity is betweenhim and his wife. They, and they alone, should deal with thematter.
I have long wondered why the American society spends time andmoney to build a man up only to later destroy him. It is like arancher feeding his cows good grass and expensive hormones to fattenthe animal so as to realize good meat when slaughtered. As a matterof consequence, top athletes, musicians, politicians, judges, priestsand people of all professions have been destroyed in this inferno ofmorbid curiosity.
Many have blamed this trend on the 24 hour news cycle which camewith the founding of CNN by Ted Turner. I disagree. While America hasmade great strides in technology and almost all other aspects oflife, relationships and human development have suffered. As a resultpeople have become more lonely and bitter; they have substitutedmachines for human feelings and touch. The result is a society thathas been driven by an uncanny desire to self-destruct. And, as istrue of life, we feed these desires and nature materializes it forus. We have writers and producers who now make it their business totell the whole world the gory details of our lives.
Someturn away in distaste while many applaud and ask for more. Thestories and the shows grow. We sell more magazines and newspapers,ratings go up on television shows, and is everybody happy? Certainlynot! Yet, we keep asking for more until it comes to our turn. Whenthe intimate details of our lives become news fodder for the world,we cry foul. It has become politically correct to condemn JerrySpringer on television in the day and go back at night to watch more.Any wonder the show still remains one of the most highly rated TVshows in America. Even mainstream networks have joined in this goryfascination with scandal. Did I hear you say Fox and TemptationIsland? Thou sayest.
Bill Maher's solution for infidelity in marriages is one withwhich I do not agree, but I believe its worth some consideration. Theman believes that the best way to solve the problem of infidelity isto stay single. Who says you cannot cheat on a lover to whom you arenot married?
His approach shows a simplistic understanding of relationships. Ihave believed, for a very long time, that relationships don't justhappen. People don't just meet and decide to have a relationship.Sometimes people get into relationships inspite of themselves.
Some relationships are continuations of previous relationshipswhile some others may be ending of certain experiences we have hadover time. One common theme in every relationship is that we arenever the same after any relationship. Those who have thisunderstanding see everyday in a relationship as a gift, enjoy themoments and learn the lessons therein.
Enough of philosophy and back to Jesse Jackson...
Since after the general election in November of last year, JesseJackson has led the fight to ensure that the voices of millions ofvoters that were disenfranchised in Florida are heard. He ledprotests in Florida to protest the outcome of the elections. Policereports indicate that the protest on George Bush's inauguration isexpected to be the biggest ever.
That this information on Jesse Jackson's indiscretion was releasedat this time has raised many eye brows. He had also been in theforefront of the opposition for the nomination of John Ashcroft asattorney general of the country by President George Bush.
This story has been out there for over a year and yet the publicdid not know about it until a few days to inauguration of the newpresident and in the middle of Judiciary Committee hearing onAshcroft. Anybody who thinks all these happened by chance has notbeen living in this country with their eyes open. This is politicsand "gotcha" politics at its best.
Any pretension to a more civil and bipartisan Washington just tooka dive out of the window. The testimonies at the Ashcroft hearing andthe Jesse affair has ensured that the partisan bitterness andwrangling are here to stay.
George Bush ran as a uniter, not a divider. His appointment ofJohn Ashcroft as attorney general undermines the new president'spromise to unite the country. In some ways I don't blame George Bush.As the candidate transformed into the elected (some argue selected)president he had to come to terms with the reality of his situation.He needed to define his alliances and loyalty to the interests thatmade him President. He chose the right wing!
Nobody should blame him for that. His promise to unite the countryworked in the opposite direction. He united the opposition groupsagainst his new administration. The next four years promise to beinteresting, especially to people like us. George Bush also promisedto change the tone in Washington.
Reality struck. There are evils and principalities in high placesand Dubya realizes that now.
Wham! Jesse Jackson get out of the way. This calculated attempt tosilence Jesse Jackson and others like him is an affront on theAfrican-American people in United States and indeed blacks all overthe world. This must be resisted. Thirty-five years of public servicemust not go down the drain.
Jesse has many more good years to fight for his people. He shouldnot be allowed to go to waste. This man who has traversed the globe,serving people of different color and race, should not and must notbe allowed to fade into oblivion because of a personal failing. Somehave said he can no longer claim the moral high ground. Nonsense.People who think like this are bereft of the most basic understandingof life and morality. These are people who are blinded by politicsand ideology that they turn the Bible upside down. Sex is not theonly sin in the Bible.
The last time I checked, it is still ten commandments and not one.So-called moral and religious leaders lie everyday to theircongregations and the general public. That is immoral. Those who linetheir pockets with money from the special interests in order to passlaws that are inimical to the interests of their constituents areimmoral. Supporting policies that endanger lives and breed sufferingin the world's poorest regions are acts of immorality. Underminingothers to advance your political and financial goals is immoral. TheAshcroft confirmation hearings have revealed a pattern of distortionof records for political purposes; This is highly immoral, but Isupport his nomination for the position of attorney general. None ofus is completely blameless. No sin is greater than the other.
Since the election of November 7, America and her politicians haveshown that they do not have an exclusive monopoly on wisdom.Certainly not in democratic practice and principles. Americanpoliticians should travel to other countries to learn how to conductelections and how not to allow personal failings affect them in highoffice. Martin Luther King's legacy, Jews and Black History Month
Elendu is a contributing editor and columnist for NigeriaCentral.comand USAfrica The Newspaper.
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