Jesse Jackson's now infamous whisper has shot race back into the national conversation. And it's worth remembering that Jackson's cutting remarks were spurred by Barack Obama's recent speeches on faith and fatherhood. Jackson thinks that urging people toward greater personal responsibility and faith-based solutions is "talking down" to them.
It's clear now that Jackson lashed out because he's jealous and frustrated. Jealous of a young black man who really has a chance to make it to the White House. Frustrated because the Obama appeal for self-reliance and strong fathers makes Jackson's own blame game style of racial politics seem irrelevant and out of date.
Jesse Jackson made himself a comfortable living in the racial-grievance industry. But this mindset of victimology has been enormously damaging and demoralizing to young black people who are led to think that no matter how hard they work, the deck is stacked against them. Jackson and his media enablers have spent two generations popularizing the warped idea that institutional racism is responsible for every major societal woe.
A few days before the Jackson flap, a man named John Wiley Price, a city commissioner in Dallas, Texas, went ballistic when one of his fellow commissioners referred to a municipal office that routinely lost traffic tickets as a "black hole." Price, who's black, demanded to know why he didn't call it a "white hole." So that's where we are. Mentioning colors or using scientific terms is racist. Black-tie affair? White out? White noise? White lie? Black-balled? Racist, racist, racist, racist!
What a disgrace to those who actually endured slavery and who are truly subjected to discrimination today. Even if Jackson doesn't hold the same bizarre views as Commissioner Price, he bears some of the responsibility for the racial paranoia that incubated them.
Jackson is an international celebrity and often has the words "civil rights leader" attached to his name on television. But his first instinct seems always to blame the government, or society, or historical injustices for individual moral failures that result in too many men who drop out of school or abandon their families or end up in jail.
If Jesse Jackson wants to get angry at anyone for talking down to the black community, he should start by looking in the mirror.