Explain the vitriol directed towards Jesse Jackson, please

pizzabrat has a thread about alleged self-proclaimed Black leaders in GQ. As usual when the names Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton are mentioned, there are denigrating comments about both.

I’m curious to learn specific instances that earn Jackson and Sharpton derision. I also am curious if these perspectives differ according to one’s race and political leaning. Myself, I am African American and left of center. I think both Jackson and Sharpton are skilled orators and have devoted their lives to fighting for civil rights, often championing the causes of the least powerful victims of discrimination, many of whom do not look like model citizens. These people are often partially at fault for their troubles.

I also do not think they are perfect. Jackson had the “Hymietown” comment and the illicit affair; Sharpton had the Tawana Brawley case and the Crown Heights riot. Certainly dark marks on their careers, but not dissimilar to things we know about many politicians (ethnic slurs and extramarital affairs).

I also think being a tireless worker for civil rights means that you are a target for smear campaigns. It happened to King when he was alive; his death IMO elevated him to martyr status. I suspect had he lived, King would have been labeled in a derogatory way, much like Jackson and Sharpton have been.

So, in this thread, I’ll ask you to share your race/ethnicity and political leaning, and your perspective on Jackson and Sharpton. If you feel negatively about either person, it would be helpful to provide a cite for their bad behavior. I grew up admiring Jesse Jackson - like I admired King and Kennedy, and of course as I got older I learned a lot of these men’s shortcomings. I still don’t think it diminishes their accomplishments in public life, though. I can understand why some people have real issues with Sharpton - he handled the Brawley case terribly, and after the facts came out, he was even worse (not apologizing to the people he accused of being complicit in the crime, etc).

I’ll take stab. I’m a white liberal. To me, both of them are publicity whores. They show up any place there will be a camera. I don’t think they choose causes well. Any random, alleged white on black crime and they show up.

The hymie town incident is unforgiveable from someone who espouses an anti-racism, anti-prejudice platform. Imagine what would have happened if a liberal jew refered to Detroit as nigger-town. As bad as that was, the Tawana Bradley case was worse. Innocent police were smeared, racial tensions were raised, and to this day no apology from Sharpton (or Spike Lee for that matter).

Jesse Jacson is a great orator and Sharpton is wicked smart, but they need to acknowledge there shortcomings before I will take heed of anything they say.

White left of center. Born and raised in the Chicago area so long time familiar with Jesse Jackson.

The best skewering of him came in an old Zany’s routine where the running gag had him continually poking in, looking for a camera, and declaring Black America’s solidarity with the plight of whatever group was in focus in that skit, beginning with some real ones, like his statement of unity with the Palestinian struggle, to eventually the more and more absurd, ending with his declaring unity with the plight of the penguins. The disdain for him is similar to that that many have of HRC. We just don’t believe that he believes what he says. He always seemed interested only in getting his face in the media and nothing more. Some of White liberals resented that our dislike for him was often painted as racism rather than our just not liking him and his self-serving ways. I particular disrespect the way he used Martin Luther King Jr.'s murder to propell himself into a leadership role.

I don’t have much personal knowledge of Sharpton, but I’ve lways gotten that same flavor.

Yeah, on preview, what DanBlather just said.

You may want to grab a copy of this book for starters. Just be aware the author has his own political agenda.

I agree with pretty much everything said so far. Another big hit on Jesse Jackson for me was his extramarital affair. I don’t really care who sleeps with who, or who’s cheating on who, until somebody starts trying to speak from a position of moral authority (like a Reverend). Then, I perceive it, fairly or not, as hypocritical.

I will say, however, that I find Sharpton consistently entertaining as a talking head on the news.

When Jesse was younger he did a world of good for young people. He was really able to get a message of pride across to the very youngsters who had thought of themselves as second rate. I can overlook at lot of “sins” for that.

When Al Sharpton first came on the scene, I compared him with Jesse and found him wanting. That was because I had never heard of him before the Brawley case. But when he debated when he was running for President, he certainly got my attention. He was the best debator on the stage. I still love to watch him in action.

I can’t say that I disagree with his politics and I think his mind is very sharp. But we’ve just been badly burned by a Prez with the Ego from Hell. I don’t think Al will have much of a chance at the top job, but I wouldn’t mind seeing him at an important post.

I think that when Al sees a problem that has to do with racial discrimination, he doesn’t think twice about doing something about it. Sometimes that pisses people off – even some fairly reasonable people. In the 1960s and 1970s I suspect some folks might have resented him for being a little “uppity.” They don’t realize that he is already head and shoulders above them quite naturally.

Just listen to what the man has to say.

White, further left than center.

I don’t think much about Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, except that I have a vague idea that they don’t like white folks very much. I’m as suspicious of their motives as I am of other lawyers and politicians, but I don’t have much of an opinion of them as people. They don’t seem like powerful enough personalities to be the figureheads for any type of social movement, but I guess that’s just me.

White, well left of center (except on the issue of illegal immigration)

I simply think that as clever and articulate the two are, and as much as they add to the presidential campaigns when they are involved, it does not make sense to put racists in charge of fighting racism. There are ample cites already mentioned.

White and way left. I’m from Chicago and for most of my life I thought Jesse Jackson was the greatest thing evah for civil rights. However, I agree with those who say he doesn’t pick his fights the way he used to. I think it was Mike Royko who nicknamed him “Jesse Jetstream” because of his publicity whorishness. I give him a gigantic pass because of all the good he’s done, but he certainly could spend his time and intelligence more productively. IMHO, he mostly falls into the “good” column.

White liberal.

I won’t restate what others have said, I’ll just add one more thing to Sharpton’s pile. The Stanley “Tookie” Williams case. Sharpton was a tireless crusader to try to get him released. As an opponent of the death penalty I supported the people who were trying to stop his execution, and while I disagreed with the idea that he should be released because he had written some children’s books, at least those people had a coherent argument. But Sharpton was trying to convince everybody that he was innocent, which was blatantly false, and he was saying that he had been framed because he was black, which was absurd.

I identify as white and I’m quite right of center.

I agree with pretty much everything that’s already been stated about both of them, especially in that I get the sense that they just don’t care too much for white people. Most recently with this Crystal Mangum case they were repeatedly smearing the lacrosse players and demanding all kinds of justice for this poor abused little stripper. Of course they were far from the only ones to do so, but I believe that Jackson went so far as to say that he would pay for the entirety of Mangums tuitions regardless of the outcome. I wonder how he feels about that now :dubious: .

Basically I think they don’t really subscribe to what they’re saying and are in it for the publicity and for their own personal gain.

E. Indian descent, but American. And fairly liberal.

I don’t like them for all of the above reasons and also because they only seem to care about blacks. Now I wouldn’t expect anything else except I’ve read a lot of MLK’s stuff and it seems somehow more evident to me that he was speaking for all non-white people. I know a lot of what MLK accomplished affects me directly today.

Sharpton and Jackson are media whores and seem to jump on any bandwagon that is remotely anti-white. I, like many others, just don’t have a good impression of them.

I asked a question in that thread, based on what I remember of Jackson when I was a teenager in the 1980s, 15 000 miles away. An American posted that my “he seems like a sleazebag” was correct. I would equally have accepted, “No, he’s a great guy.”

Unless you can name some minor Australian politicians, I think I’m doing fine just knowing who Jackson is.

I should add that as an Australian teenager in the 80s, I knew next to nothing about US politics. My reaction to Jackson was a primal, gut instinct. He screamed “shiny-suited confidence man” to me. Of course, I have neither cite nor justification for this. It’s just what I thought. The same cold, reptilian eyes as Kenneth Copeland.

White; raised overseas. Independent but generally for government that is fiscally conservative, socially liberal for citizens’ personal lives and totally color/race/anyotherfriggingfrouping-blind. I am underwhelmed with anything that happened to anyone’s ancestors and impressed with those who take personal responsibility for how they live their lives without trying to find external excuses.

I find myself generally critical of and cynical toward most leaders, from Mr Bush to Ms Pelosi; from David Duke to Jesse Jackson.

Calling for specific bad behaviour cites seems to invite potshots which taken in isolation don’t justify a broad brush, but with Mr Jackson it seems the exception and not the rule that no opportunity for the public stage is lost. I think of examples such as embellishing his childhood struggles, his story around Mr King’s death, his counseling of President Clinton over adultery and his coloring of the Duke Rape story as fairly typical (did he ever end up executing his promise to pay for that woman’s college education?).

My general impression is that Mr Jackson is for Mr Jackson and that being “a tireless worker for civil rights” is simply the means by which he can promote that end. It’s not a cause born of his personal integrity and compassion. It is the means by which he can ascend the stage.

White liberal. Sharpton seems like an unmitigated publicity-whore.

An example:

Often a well-known figure will appear in a cameo as himself on a fictional tv show. Always seemed kind of odd to me, but usually harmless. On the British show “Extras”, a number of well-known Brit actors have appeared as themselves – acting like complete wankers. It’s funny because I’m fairly sure they don’t act like that in real life; so it shows that they don’t take themselves too seriously.

But on the show “Rescue Me”, Sharpton had a cameo in a story where the station ladder crew (if I recall) leaves a car wreck involving a black person who isn’t seriously injured, so they can go to a serious fire and try to save some lives. No racial motivation at all, yet Al Sharpton appears on tv accusing them of being racists and demanding apologies. So, here we have Al Sharpton, appearing as himself, doing exactly what he does in real life, and showing himself to be a complete asshole (given that, unlike in most real-life cases, the tv audience knows exactly what really happened).

White, conservative.

Royko’s successor, John Kass, calls him Jesse “King of Beers” Jackson in honor of the way he leveraged protests against Anheuser-Busch into a hugely lucrative beer distributorship for his sons:

Beyond what has been said, their oration is in the over-the-top tradition common to black ministers. (and some white ones as well) If you were raised with that tradition, perhaps it seems normal. I was not raised in that culture, and to me it seems as forced and artificial as kabuki or opera. I don’t really hear what they are saying, I just observe this performance and wonder why in the hell they can’t speak “normally”.

Kevbo is white and well left of center, BTW.

How successful of publicity whores are they, when I never even notice them until someone else mentions their antics on the internet?

Mostly liberal, mixed race mutt (white + hispanic mostly).

I don’t dislike either of these guys to a greater or lesser degree than I dislike any standard-issue self-absorbed camera-seeking careerist politician. They are cut from precisely the same cloth as Joe Lieberman and John Edwards and George “Macaca” Allen and the rest of the political operators. Why they should attract more venom than any other slick-talking self-promoting manipulator of the same stripe, well, that’s the real question, isn’t it?