Jesse Jackson is a racist.
1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.
I made a claim in the comments of this post that upset at least one person. I maintain that Jesse Jackson has done more to hurt the ideal of racial equity than David Duke ever could. To a lot of people that position is ridiculous but when you stop to think about it, it does make sense.
David Duke is marginalized by his very adherence to the idea that non-white races are inferior. The only people who take him seriously are those already in agreement with his ideals/point of view. He reaches a very small audience that is getting smaller as time goes by. Jackson, on the other hand, is embraced by politicians, media, and populace and so his word reaches a much wider, and much more receptive audience. He uses his position, in words anyway, to denounce racism but his actions have done more to reinforce racist thought than anything Duke could have ever done.
The first thing Jackson does that's harmful is to almost immediately jump in on any situation involving blacks and label it as a race issue regardless of whether or not race is even a factor. One recent example is Jackson's calling out of the media for using the word 'refugee' during/after Katrina. Jackson wanted them to be called 'displaced persons' because he claimed that calling them 'refugees' was racist. Since the word refugee literally means someone who is searching for refuge there is NO racial connotation to the term. This kind of grandstanding by Jackson is drawing attention away from legitimate cases of racist behavior and turning Jackson into "The Boy Who Cried Wolf." It's getting to the point that Jackson won't be able to label a definitive case of racism and be taken seriously. He is marginalizing himself and, by extension, his cause over time.
The primary mistake by Jackson though is in his approach to blacks in general. He thinks that reparations are owed to the black community. He repeatedly asserts that black Americans are incapable of bettering themselves without some from of outside help. What kind of message does this send to people? This kind of self-defeating tripe demeans the character and strength of blacks everywhere.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying Jackson is doing this on purpose. I believe that he honestly wants to make things better and his intentions, sometimes anyway, are completely altruistic. His actions though are doing more to eat away at the foundations of racial equality than the vocal supremacist groups could ever do.
To sum up, Jackson is doing a phenomenal job paving the road to hell but failing us all with his short-sighted attempts at addressing racism. We have to get past the point where someone's skin color makes a difference. As long as people like Jackson and Duke, as well as programs like affirmative action, constantly reinforce the idea that the cellular levels of melanin in someone's skin matters we will NEVER achieve the ideal that people like Dr. King worked so hard to bring about.