What a week! In one day we see the best and the worst in icons and media.
Rev. Jesse Jackson, who I have watched from his earliest years of "grievance based politics," makes an "off mike" whispered remark about Obama's Father's day speech, where Obama remarks that too many fathers are MIA, AWOL, missing from their families lives, and abandoning responsibility. Rev. Jackson says, "He is talking down to Black people" and then makes a reference to cutting him off at "the pass."
Jesse Jackson Jr. has denounced his father for this, even though it was a "private" utterance into an open mike between two men when they were not knowingly on a live camera. Sometimes this is the only way to see the truth.
But is Barack "talking down" to Black people or not? His Father's Day speech was delivered in a church and he expressed responsibility between generations. I do not find this divisive and at least as valid as a famous quote from the Rev. Jackson himself:
"You may live in the Ghetto, but the Ghetto does not have to live in you."
Is not Jackson's ego greater than his own missteps, fathering an illegitimate child by a woman he brought in to the Clinton White House to meet the President? Did this action assist or hinder Clinton's own effectiveness as a leader when he received them in light of his own misadventures? I think that the answer is pretty clear that it was no help. It was no help to his wife to be humiliated or to Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr., who now serves as a manager for Barack Obama. As this knowledge came to the public Rev. Jackson barely apologized beyond saying that the child would be "provided for." Will Jesse Jackson be providing a father, too?
In the forty years since the assassination of Dr. King, Jessie Jackson has always been there fighting the good fight for access of American minorities to the political stage and the boardrooms of real power. He has done a lot of good in programs such as "Operation Push," which has given generations new reasons to hope for a better future. The future is now here, and Rev. Jackson's message is an echo from the past that must be dealt with using a clear eye. Barack Obama does not give a blanket excuse to be less than personally excellent when he stresses social and personal responsibility. If he is talking down to anyone, it is to the socially irresponsible who continue to create one-parent homes through abandonment. Calling for parental involvement in the raising of children on Father's Day is something I wish Rev. Jackson would compliment as a former candidate for high office himself.
And yes, Obama is talking down to all people who avoid responsibility and "grievance politics" have been dealt a long needed blow. You cannot both avoid responsibility and be aggrieved.