How do such flawed people become our leaders and heroes?

The date was April 5, 1968. Just twelve hours after an assassin murdered civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, a young  follower named Jesse Jackson announced on the NBC Today Show that King had died in his arms. He had cradled King’s head and was the last person on earth to whom King had spoken. He had stains on his sweater that he said was the blood of Dr. King.

Jesse Jackson, Joan Baez, and Martin Luther King
Jesse Jackson, Joan Baez, and Martin Luther King

It wasn’t until 7 years later that a black reporter, Barbara Reynolds, tracked down other members of Dr. King’s entourage, who all denied the story. “The only person who cradled Dr. King was [the Reverend Ralph] Abernathy,” said Hosea Williams, a top deputy to Dr. King at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). “It’s a helluva thing to capitalize on a man’s death, especially one you professed to love.” Hosea had been present during the shooting, and so had Ralph Abernathy, while a musician named Ben Branch was with Jackson at the time in the courtyard of the motel. He also says that Jesse did not touch MLK. By all accounts, Jesse was indeed in the motel, but he went away from, not toward, the victim.


Then Barbara Reynolds published her book Jesse Jackson: The Man, The Movement, The Myth, which mercilessly exposed this lie, among others. Jackson hit back. In an interview he said “…Remember what happened to that black female Tribune reporter [Angela Parker] who busted up our organization? Her drive to gain the world was so strong that she did not know what it meant to lose her soul…Today she can’t hold her head up in her own community…”

Barbara was gradually ostracized, then vilified, and finally “became the subject of “personal attacks on my life,” following the publication of her book.

Her book, which had been a best seller, disappeared from book stores. Since Jackson had friends in street gangs, she needed protection. She claims that she “received death threats from anonymous callers.”

Angela Parker had been a reporter for the Chicago Tribune who exposed Jackson’s financial dealings to Abernathy. When he was speaking to a group of reporters, including Angela, he said to directly about her: “The issue is that last Friday a black woman reporter left Chicago with her mission being to separate great black men….Now you know who your enemy is.”

He talked on about the “treachery of black women.” and even compared her to a woman who stabbed Dr. King in the early 60s, a comparison that produced thunderous applause from the audience.

Parker eventually had to go underground, because of the demonstrations, death threats, and attempts to destroy her career.

With this past, you would think that Jesse would NOT be hailed as a great civil rights leader, or the representative of black aspirations.

But he was.

In an interview, biographer Ken Timmerman says: ‘What I discovered doing “Shakedown” is that Jesse Jackson is there to help himself first. It’s called “Me-first Jackson” in Chicago. Then he helps his family – beer distributorships for his sons. Then he helps his close entourage, the black-elite friends. And these are a dozen, two dozen people around him who have become hundred-million dollar millionaires.’

Hurley Green worked for Jackson, writing a weekly column under Jackson’s name. He quit when he learned that Jackson was being paid a fee for the column, and pocketing the money for himself. Says Green: “Jesse uses people like a lemon. He squeezes all the juice out, then gets another lemon. I’ve seen him go through lots of people like that.”

Jesse half-brother, Noah Robinson, said of him: “Jesse does have all the prerequisites for success. He has intelligence, drive, ruthlessness and vindictiveness.”

Jackson started an organization for inner city school kids called PUSH. The idea was to promote reading, writing and attendance. Students were asked to sign a moral contract where they would avoid “decadence” and their parents were supposed to pledge to spend time with their children. He flew in first class airline seats from school to school, making speeches to the students. The US government was impressed, and gave millions to his causes. But not all blacks were impressed. A former vice president of PUSH, Thomas Todd, called it a “public relations stunt based on rhetoric and nothing more.” Clarence Page (also black) wrote that “The benevolence [i.e. money donations] persists, even though almost no one can explain what PUSH-Excel really is.”

Jesse Jackson said that blacks had all the rights whites had, but that was not enough. His attitude was that if a white owned supermarket operated in an area that was 20 percent black, then 20 percent of its staff should be black as well. The fear of boycotts or of bad publicity had corporations parting with cash that went to Jackson or black-owned companies. It didn’t hurt that he had help from “El Rukn”, a black gang as organized as any Mafia. He used them in one case to back up his demands on a grocery store. The gang members formed a line outside, with their red berets and black trousers with military style stripes down the side, and scared away the customers. So the store owner wrote Jesse a $5,000 check to go away.

We can question the value of mandated minority set-asides. Should a company be forced by the government or by fear of boycotts to search for a minority company to supply it, for instance? Is America so racist that black companies could not survive otherwise?  In the 1980’s a US Census Bureau survey showed that the black business sector was booming. There was a large increase in the number of businesses, and gross receipts had reached 12.4 billion by 1982.

The St. Louis Sentinel, a black newspaper, accused Jackson of taking a “kick-back approach” to civil rights activism. It continued, saying that he had a “million dollar commitment to himself” and raised an argument that only the wealthy blacks benefited from Jackson’s approach.

Jesse then decided to become a national leader, and even ran for president. It is interesting to compare him with Obama:

1. They both ran for president

2. They both had support from Muslim associations

3. They both had communist friends: Jesse had Hunter Pitts “Jack” O’Dell. Obama had Frank Marshall Davis and Bill Ayres.

4. They also uttered untruths on occasion. Jesse told a squatter community in South Africa that he had grown up in a shack, which must have been embarrassing to his middle-class step-father, who prided himself on providing for his family. Jackson made a similar remark when he visited a Palestinian refugee camp outside Jerusalem, where he lapsed into his country preacher drawl and said: “I know this camp. When I smell the stench of the open sewers, this is nothing new to me. This is where I grew up.”

As for Obama, he tells untruths, for instance he told us that we could keep our insurance, which certainly turned out to be untrue (but maybe he didn’t know?) and he told us that the siege in Benghazi, where our ambassador died at the hands of Al Qaeda, was due to a video, and that was certainly not true. As for his past, some of it is closed to us, such as his college records.

5. Jackson’s presidential platform called for an initial 25 percent across-the-board cut in defense spending, income redistribution, and accommodation of the Soviet Union. A leader of his “brain trust” was Robert Borosage of the “Institute for Policy Studies” (IPS). The IPS was a hard-left think-tank. Borosage traveled repeatedly to Nicaragua in the early 1980s to support the pro-Soviet Sandinistas. Borosage and IPS are very enthusiastic about Barack Obama.

Jackson and Farrakhan
Jackson and Farrakhan

6. Jackson was associated with Louis Farrakhan, the leader of the Black Muslims in the US, who said to the Jews “If you harm this brother [Jesse], it will be the last one you harm.” Obama was initially supported by Farrakhan as well, but after Obama waged war on Gadhafi, Louis said in a speech directed at Obama “you can’t order him to step down and get out, who the hell do you think you are?”

7. In a trip to Cuba, Jackson greeted a crowd in Havana with “Long live Fidel Castro! Long live Che Guevara!” At the University of Havana, he punched the air with his fist clenched in the Communist Party salute. In 1984, he called for normalization of diplomatic, economic, and cultural relations with Cuba – which Obama has now implemented. He also wanted a pledge by the US of no first use of nuclear weapons, and Obama has actually reduced our nuclear arsenal drastically and wants to reduce it some more.

When Bill Clinton left office as president of the USA, he signed 177 pardons (and commutations) for prisoners. Three of these were requested by Jackson:

1. Dorothy Rivers, a social activist who had defrauded the homeless of 5 million dollars in grants. With her ill-gotten gains, she bought a Mercedes, a $3,500 dress, business investments for her sons, etc. After she was pardoned, Jackson put her on the board of directors of Rainbow/PUSH.

2. Mel Reynolds, a former congressman convicted of soliciting sex with a minor. Once released, Jackson hired him as a consultant on prison reform. Deroy Murdock, a black syndicated columnist, told Timmerman “This is a first in American politics. An ex-congressman who had sex with a subordinate won clemency from a president who had sex with a subordinate, then was hired by a clergyman who had sex with a subordinate.”

So again, we can ask: how do we get such “great leaders”? At least in the case of North Korea, its leadership was imposed on it by the Soviets and others. But here, in our democracy, we had Jesse, and then later his successor Al Sharpton, who meets often with both Barack Obama and Bill De Blasio (mayor of New York).

And how did Sharpton start?

In November 1987, Tawana Brawley, a 15-year-old black girl from Wappingers Falls, New York, knew she was in trouble. Although she had been grounded, she had gone out with her older boyfriend anyway and had been gone for four days. She knew from past experience that when she went home she could expect a beating from her mother’s live-in boyfriend, a violent ex-con and alcoholic who had served time for murder. To avoid Tawana and Al Sharptonthose consequences she concocted a lurid story that ended up being transformed — once Sharpton got ahold of it — into a racially polarizing incident at the national (and then global) level.

Tawana claimed that she had been abducted, raped, and abused by a group of white men, who smeared her with feces and wrote “B****,” “KKK,” and “N*****” on her clothes and body. If true, this would have been a horrendous crime. But Sharpton turned this hoax of a troubled teen into a malicious cause célèbre to advance his own career. Sharpton and his fellow activists, attorneys C. Vernon Mason and Alton Maddox, turned the case into a three-ring media circus that ran for months in 1988, capturing the top headlines of many of the MSM daily news cycles.

Under Sharpton’s tutelage, two of Miss Brawley’s four anonymous white men developed names: local police officer Harry Crist, Jr. and local prosecutor Steven Pagones.

You look at this and wonder. We are in a democracy. And yet who rises to the top? Who leads us? Take Greece: democratic elections in Greece have brought to power a party whose emblem is the Communist hammer and sickle.  Or take Venezuela: democratic elections brought in a dictatorship to Venezuela, and that dictatorship is being reinforced now by Iranian power. Venezuela even has Iranian missiles pointed at us, missiles that can certainly reach Florida. Democratic elections did the same in Bolivia, and consider the following letter to the Wall Street Journal:

“My family immigrated from Argentina in the mid-’60s…Once in the top five in the world for standard of living, Argentina now has become a bottom feeder third-world nation. The husband and wife Kirchner governments have created a completely dependent population which is controlled by throwing them the usual nationalist bones such as ..anti-American and anti-success rhetoric against productive nations…It is too late to cry for Argentina. Lets act now so we won’t have to cry for the U.S.

The Kirchners of Argentina
The Kirchners of Argentina

When choosing leaders first impressions are not enough. Stanton Samenow, a criminologist, says to avoid trusting the wrong people, we have to get to know them, because only over time will we see their personality unfold. There are many people now who regret voting for Hugo Chavez, for example. And the joke is not only on them. Its on us.


Shakedown – by Kenneth R. Timmerman (2002)

The paragraph on Sharpton:

The WSJ letter on Argentina is here:


3 thoughts on “How do such flawed people become our leaders and heroes?

  1. The answer to your question is that like attracts like. People vote for people that they perceive as like themselves. The comment by the criminologist at the end is a long way wide of the mark. Most people who are corrupt, flawed, and dishonest are constantly sending out signals indicating their inner nature. You only have to look at the crazy, histrionic, almost deranged speeches given by Hitler, all practised and choreographed. Today we are amazed that people “fell for it.” In fact he was only feeding back the Germans’ own hatreds and prejudices. Even a little self observation should help people understand this, but that’s not what most of us want. If someone seems to offer justification for our worst feelings, support for our belief systems, then they’re made. This is a basic rule of all disinformation.

    1. Yes, I think Samenow (the criminologist) was thinking of people that we meet on a personal level, not leaders. People tend to make snap judgements about new acquaintances, and after a while they may find out their judgement was wrong, or even that the person has problems that would never have occurred to them. As far as leaders go, some of them reveal who they are immediately, others conceal at least part of their agenda, if they are trying to take power democratically.
      I should not remove the quote, even though it is misplaced here, since otherwise readers of the blog post will not understand your comment.

      1. Oh no, I wouldn’t want you to remove it. It is a point of view. Some people seem to have good perceptions and use them, but others let emotion, beliefs, tribal memberships, overrule their impressions. Hitler is just an extreme example. Some people are careful not to let slip anything that might reveal their real characteristics, but it is not difficult to detect this. There is a continuum between everyday perception and perception of politicians and leaders.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s