There's no fun kicking downed man -- even Jesse

January 20, 2001|By GREGORY KANE

NO, DAD-GUM IT, I'M not going to do a column on the Revvum Jesse Jackson. I won't. Everyone understand that? I won't do it. This is the non-column on Jesse Jackson. Heck, you aren't really reading this right now.

That's the question I've heard the past day and a half, of course. "Are you going to do a column on Jesse Jackson?" The query is prompted by the good revvum's personal troubles, which came to light Wednesday.

It seems that raising hell about racial injustice and poverty or being a race hustler - which seem to be the only views of Jackson - weren't all that he's been up to the past couple of years. Why, that old stud muffin had a fling with a woman named Karin L. Stanford, who, when Jackson met her, was writing a book called "Beyond the Boundaries: Reverend Jesse Jackson in International Affairs."

Please cut the snickering - although when I first read that account in The Sun, it sent me into peals of laughter. Stanford bore Jackson's child, a girl born in May 1999. News reports also indicated that Jackson paid $40,000 to help Stanford move from Washington to Los Angeles and is giving her $3,000 a month in child support.

So now all those who have pilloried Jackson in the past - I have often gleefully been one of them - are supposed to have a field day with these revelations. Let others have at it. I won't be one of them. There are three things I don't do: take candy from babies; shoot fish in a barrel; and kick a man when he's down. And Jackson has to be so far down from this, he's practically subterranean.

What good would it do me? What would be the fun? I like kicking Jesse Jackson when he's standing upright, when he's a better target, when he's making some public utterance that shows what a genuine fool he can sometimes be.

Oh, to return to those days when William Donald Schaefer was governor of Maryland and Jackson was running around advocating statehood for the District of Columbia. Schaefer said - quite correctly, per the Constitution - that D.C. statehood was a matter for the Maryland legislature to consider. Jackson accused Schaefer of trying to turn the district into a Bantustan, a region in apartheid South Africa set aside for blacks.

Those of us who figured D.C. would have to improve one hundredfold politically, economically and culturally to reach even the lowly level of a Bantustan were amused but nonetheless appalled. We were even more baffled by Jackson's ignorance of the Constitution. This was a guy who had run for president and, had he won, would have known little about the law of the land he would have sworn to uphold.

He changed little over the years. As recently as last year he was down in Mississippi, proclaiming the suicide hanging of a black youth a lynching. He even trotted out the poor mother of Emmett Till, a 14-year-old victim of a 1955 lynching, to give aid and comfort to his lunacy. The findings of the state medical examiner and an independent pathologist hired by the boy's family, which said there was no sign of a struggle and that all indications were that it was a suicide, neither fazed him nor kept him from using this issue for all it was worth.

That was the public Jackson, the one who is a fitting and appropriate target for journalists. Jackson's private matters don't seem fair game, which didn't stop Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation from hinting that Jackson was a hypocrite and proclaiming him a "man who has complained bitterly and repeatedly about black poverty [and] is, in his personal life, contributing to the major cause of black child poverty in the U.S."

Rector is a conservative and may be one of those who cheered wildly when Jackson said a few years back he'd be relieved if he were walking down the street and turned around and discovered white guys, instead of black guys, were following him. Conservatives couldn't get enough of that remark. They quoted Jackson whenever they could, as if to say, "See, Jackson proves what we've been saying all along: that you colored folks are natural-born criminals."

But Jackson is no more hypocritical than those conservatives who want to end affirmative action in the name of color-blindness and then, in almost the same breath, advocate or excuse racial profiling. Jackson's comment about black guys following him made conservatives swoon, but others felt the good revvum was just being the loveable bozo he is.

News reports say he may retreat from public life, if only temporarily. For a columnist, this is catastrophic news. Jackson is good copy. What are we supposed to do for column fodder? Here this guy has been a handy punching bag for years, and he chumps out. Heck, we may even have to get real lives.

I wonder what that Al Sharpton guy is up to right now?

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