So, Jesse Jackson actually pulled it off. Hooray for him and his delegation. Everyone was skeptical and why not? Milosevic had already said no once before. But our boys are on safe turf and they have Jackson to thank for it.
I have mixed feelings about Jesse Jackson. I think he has sent some terrific messages about peace and morality, but I don’t like his political ambitions. Frankly, I think he’s right where he should be and needs to be – as am ambassador of peace. He’s in a very critical and opportune position. His “man of God, man of peace” angle is the only way he could have pulled this one off with Milosevic, the “Butcher of the Balkans”. He could appeal to certain sensitivities that a politician could never do.
Politicians are by nature tainted, corrupted by power and hidden agendas. Jackson can portray himself as corrupted by nothing and having no hidden agendas (seemingly no hidden agendas). He was there to seek peace and free the hostages. A very noble cause, indeed. And obviously he said something that would sway Milosevic to his way of thinking, even if it were an empty promise that Jackson could use his influence to halt the NATO bombing. Maybe it was an appeal to Milosevic’s greater glory, as what, the “Savior of the Serbs”?. Whatever it was, it sure ticked off the administration who view Jackson as a loose cannon. And he is. He goes against the administration’s foreign policy. They said “don’t go, we can’t guarantee your safety” — translated, that means: “don’t go, we don’t want or need you”. The problem is, we do need him.
Jackson is doing precisely what he does best and that is negotiating from the standpoint of something bigger than all of us – God. They say Milosevic doesn’t have a conscience and that he was just playing Jackson for a fool, maybe trying to save face in the midst of a horrendous beating by NATO. In this case, I think the end did justify the means. And Jackson did more good than harm. Hooray for Jackson. Now let’s move on.
The one thing that bothers me about Jackson is that I don’t think he’s done enough to spur people of his race in the right direction. Sure, he talks a good game, but he’s too willing to make excuses for them. I heard comedian “no holds barred” Chris Rock banter with Jackson on precisely this point. Rock, who is also black, took issue with Jackson over the difference between being poor and being a pig. Rock made it very clear that there could be no excuse for unsatisfactory behavior or morality lapses, poor or not. Jackson steamed, looked as if he’d wring Rock’s neck. That’s the trouble with Jackson, can’t take the heat of the truth.
Many blacks look to Jackson as their one and only moral leader. It’s a helluva burden but Jackson’s shoulders are wide enough to bear it. Well, do it right Jackson. Your people have come a long way. Stop making excuses for them. Let them stand in the light as the rest of us folks do and be responsible for their actions, right or wrong. You and they will get a lot more respect for it.
‘No more victims, just stand-up citizens.’ That should be your new clarion call. And, God will surely be with you. Forget the presidency. You have a greater role to play for your people and the rest of the world. You got our boys out and for that we applaud you, but there’s more work for you to do and it won’t always be in the limelight, or even in the camera lights. It’s in the streets and the barrios, in the homes and the workplaces of the average American. It’s in the trenches of everyday life. Do more and do it fast. Sometimes I think we’re all running out of time. (original post approx 1999)