Much of what Jesse Jackson said to New York Post columnist Amir Taheri at the First World Policy Forum in Evian, France, last week has been reported – but there was more to the interview than has been talked about.
Jackson said, "Obama is about change, and the change that Obama promises is not limited to what we do in America itself. It is a change of the way America looks at the world and its place in it." Jackson makes Obama sound like a messiah that assumes he truly can change the way half of America feels on the issues.
Taheri then asked Jackson if Obama's election will close the chapter of black grievances linked to slavery. Jackson appeared to take a deep breath and think, then responded, "No, that chapter won't be closed. However, Obama's victory will be a huge step in the direction we have wanted America to take for decades."
Of course he wouldn’t respond that it would be closed. The milking of white guilt has got to be maintained as long as possible. This is why he needed to stop and think before he responded to this unexpected question. Of course, white people can never, ever be absolved of the guilt they're all supposed to feel.
Jackson then rejected the suggestion that Obama was influenced by Marxist ideas in his youth. He said, "I see no evidence of that. Obama's thirst for justice and equality is rooted in his black culture." Again, Jachson shows his prejudice by insinuating that justice and equality are things foreign to non-black cultures. And yet, Obama sees no injustice in taking hard earned money from laborers and giving it to those that haven’t earned it. He sees no injustice in destroying the lives of unborn babies. He see no injustice in the agreements Palestinians have made with Israel, only to back track when the agreements weren't convenient anymore.
But, Taheri asks Jackson, is Obama - who's not a descendant of slaves - a typical American black? Jackson emphatically answered: "You don't need to be a descendant of slaves to experience the oppression, the suffocating injustice and the ugly racism that exists in our society," he says. "Obama experienced the same environment as all American blacks did." (while growing up in Indonesia and Hawaii as well as attending Columbia University and Harvard Law School.)
Jackson also strongly supports Obama's idea of opening up direct dialogue with the Iranian leadership. "We've got to talk to tell them what we want and hear what they want," Jackson says. "Nothing is gained by not talking to others."
This ignores the fact that many non-western countries have a foundational worldview different from Americans. One can not simply assume that by sitting down at the table one can talk things out if there is no foundational agreement in goals and objectives. Mid-eastern countries are notorious for saying what’s necessary at the table and then doing their own thing, because their goals and values are different than ours. We have a foundational history in America of attempting to compromise so that everyone benefits as a nation. They have a foundational history of doing what is necessary to benefit their individual tribes and clans, and that doesn't always mean their nations. Remember, as an example, that most of Saddam Hussein's administration came from his home town of Tikrit. They were members of his clan. This is common in the Middle-east. Clans come first – even before their nation. (See “From Beirut to Jerusalem” by Tom Friedman.) Compromise isn't a foundational value. Survival of and benefit for the clan is.
Jackson says that as long as the Palestinians haven't seen justice, the Middle East will "remain a source of danger to us all." He doesn’t understand that Justice isn’t what many of our Mid-east opponents are really looking for. They are looking to win, irrespective of justice.
Jackson goes on, "Barack is determined to repair our relations with the world of Islam and Muslims. Thanks to his background and ecumenical approach, he knows how Muslims feel while remaining committed to his own faith."
I don’t doubt that Barack, having attended a Muslim school in Indonesia as a child, understands how Muslims feel. My greater concern is that neither Obama or Jackson, despite calling themselves Christians, understand the way Christians feel or have any real understanding of Christianity at all. Jesus Christ had special warnings for those that would harm children, as abortion does. Christians also understand the special purpose God has for the Jewish people in the Middle East. And Christians understand that God made us all in his image. Race is unimportant in the eyes of God. My husband used to say he was a Christian first and a Native American second because when he accepted Jesus Christ, he accepted his part in the family of God – first and foremost. This is the way we’ve raised our kids. We don’t identify ourselves as Indian, White, Jewish, German, or Irish. My children are all of those things, but first and foremost, they are Christian. All the rest is secondary. It would be great if our society as a whole, including Obama and Jackson, would consider race a non-issue.