An Inclusive Litany


"This is a replay of Selma, Alabama, all over again," said Jesse Jackson of the election in Florida, an extension of the "blood of blacks and Jews" spilled in 1965. Jackson repeatedly claimed blacks were discouraged from voting, and that elderly Jews ("Holocaust survivors") who may have been confused by their punch-hole ballots were targeted for "disenfranchisement," even in Democrat-run counties that had a strong interest in their votes, and who had approved the design of the ballots, ostensibly to make the print easier for senior citizens to read. "Something systematic was at work here," said Jackson. "It was large and systematic."

After cataloguing such statements, New York Times reporter Lynette Holloway wrote: "Mr. Jackson has been careful not to be inflammatory, which may be one reason the Democratic National Committee has changed its mind about his involvement."

[Ed.: Jackson also told Fox News that Bush "would preside but not govern because he took this [election] by Nazi tactics." Lewis Myers, Jackson's attorney, said his comparison of Bush to Nazis had been "taken out of context." Donna Brazile, Al Gore's campaign manager, told the press that "in disproportionately black areas, people faced dogs, guns, and were required to have three forms of ID." While this statement has no basis in fact, the NAACP's National Voter Fund ran ads during the campaign on black radio stations, making a similar claim that "There are many ways intimidation was, and still is, used to keep African Americans from voting. Mobs, guns and Jim Crow. Ropes, dogs, lies and hoses." The NAACP also ran a provocative television ad in the midst of the campaign that showed a pickup truck dragging a chain, and that accused Governor Bush of having "killed" James Byrd "all over again" for having opposed a change to the state's hate crimes law following his murder.

Jesse Jackson has been known to draw may other parallels with Selma, by the way. Chocolat, a romantic comedy about a woman who, by making delicious candies, liberates a repressed French village from the moralistic tyranny of its conservative mayor, was "as dramatic as November 7," Jackson told the New York Times. "[It] is really about us going to Birmingham to get the right to vote."

To be fair, Jackson may have been starting to lose it. He soon admitting to impregnating an aide and lying about it, at the same time he counseled President Clinton on his own sex scandal. He also apparently used his organization's tax-exempt funds to relocate the woman and bestow her with a questionable six-figure salary. As a result of the scandal, Jackson promised to remove himself from public life for a period of soul-searching and family healing, which lasted a little less than three days. The aide, Karin Stanford, later sued him over support payments and visitation.

There is now also considerable evidence that Jackson engaged in a pattern of extortion against large corporations, discontinuing public protests over alleged racial bias after they agreed to contribute to his organization. At a press conference, he lashed out at critics who were now scrutinizing some of his more questionable financial dealings: "These groups—they were against us marching for public accommodations. They were against us marching for the right to vote. They were against us marching for open housing. They were against us fighting to free Mandela in South Africa.... They are fundamentally extremist, right-wing groups."]

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