Saturday, July 12, 2008

The Rev. Jesse Jackson is Sorry, but Did He Repent?

I rarely post anything political here, but I can't resist a comment or two. If you have not heard the ruckus, the Rev. Jesse Jackson is in a bit of a pickle because of crude remarks about presidential candidate Barack Obama. He recently commented (in a mic he did not realize was on) "He talks down to Black people. I'd like to rip his n**s off." Some say he said, "out."

With friends like that...well you know the rest.

Jackson has issued the expected apology. He is "sorry" he says, "for harm my remarks might have caused." Obama accepted the apology from Jackson. But a spokesman said Obama would not refrain from calling upon fathers to take greater responsibility in their children's lives.

As for Jackson's apology, he also had this to say on CNN, "And then I said something... regretfully crude but it was very private and very much a sound bite and a live mic."

This is not the first time that Jackson's private mouth has caused him trouble.
In 1984, he called New York City "Hymietown," referring to the city's large Jewish population. He later acknowledged it was wrong to use the term (darn those live microphones!) but said he did so in private to a reporter. Seems he tends to forget that Someone is always listening.

My church family is familiar with me illustrating what it means to "repent" as I march one direction on the platform, then say, "I repent" and turn and march the other way. It is clear that Jackson is sorry--that he mic was on. But does it not remind you of the parental admonition, "It is one thing to be sorry you got caught, and another to change your behavior"? Maybe little Jesse wasn't listening.
Every one of us has said something we wish we had not. I certainly have, more than I like to think about. However, as a very public clergyperson, perhaps Jackson needs to remember Jesus' words in Luke 6:45 "The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks."

Jesse Jackson is often referred to as having been one of a number of young African Americans who were mentored by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A recent news article called him an "acolyte" of Dr. King. What has he done with that? A national platform comes with responsibility.

Jesse Jackson, Martin Luther King Jr. and Ralph Abernathy

I can't speak for the Black community in America, obviously. But I can speak as one who also has the title "Reverend" in front of my name (though I don't often use it). I cringe that he is always referred to as "the Reverend Jesse Jackson." In my opinion, he is an embarrassment to America and to people of faith, and to Christians, and to clergy. It is time for his microphone to be turned off permanently.


much2ponder said...

You could be right about that, but I wonder if maybe one day he will realize what you speak of here and truly repent. I'm sure Martin Luther King would not be pleased let alone how this touches the lives of believes everywhere. I would that hope Mr. Jackson will do some much needed soul searching as he needs to be reminded what it means to be, not only a follower of Christ, but a representative as well. Maybe he has never known what that means exactly or perhaps he has forgotten. This is very sad to me.

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

Yes, I hope he truly does do some soul searching. I would feel very differently about him if he seemed to show some real humility. I will pray for him right now, and thanks for the reminder.

Anonymous said...

I am a 26 year old black man and Jacskon doesnt speak for me. I cant say that about my dad thogh. I bet Jackson doesnt like Bill Cosby either. Why did people get so mad when if they looked around they would see cosby was telling truth?

Anonymous said...

what the hell do you know about it?

Ruth said...

What he said was wrong. Unfortunately it will also reflect on his son, who is a Congressman. His son has said publically that his father's comment was wrong.

People do say things in public that shouldn't be said. Wise people work hard at not doing that.

It does make me wonder how many other things he thinks but has been wise enough not to say out loud.

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

Yes, I wondered that as well. That is the "out of heart mouth speaks" thing. It is one thing to apologize for your words, but the heart attitude is what is of more concern. I find it amazing that he could make remarks about Jews...I mean...HE should know better. Of course, I do remember calling Washington DC "chocolate city" but many people called it that and it was sort of a term of affection for our predominately African American capitol city. I wonder if that term is still used, and if it is, how is it thought of?

Anonymous, not sure if you were talking to me or to Eugene. No comment.

LoieJ said...

I have two reactions: one is why does the national media always turn to a few people who are "pastor this or that" or "Rev. this or that." There are a number of denominations that are large and some fairly large whose leaders are never asked anything. Obama had a meeting with clergy in the city of my very large denomination. I haven't a peep about him contacting my denomination's leader, who not only leads in the US, but is president of a world wide faith-based relief organization.

Second, Jackson is far from the only public figure to issue a conditional apology when he/she has gotten caught doing something, whatever it may be. So many have said something like, "I'm sorry that some are offended by what I have said." or how about, "To the extent that some people have been hurt by what I did, I'm sorry." Etc. Etc. Etc. They aren't sorry for what they did. They are sorry that someone else is such a sensitive soul that they can't take a crude joke or comment or action.

You are right: these conditional apologies don't show humility or a turning to different behavior. They only show that an adviser said, "Oh oh, somebody was watching. You'd better say sorry."

This is not good role modeling!

Diane M. Roth said...

I have recently been not too pleased with Mr. Jackson. After all, he is a Rev.,too. My opinion doesn't matter as much, I think, as all of the black people who hear him.

I'm not sure how calling fathers to be more responsible (as Obama is doing) is "talking down to blacks." Someone else can explain that to me.

Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

PS, I think that is one of my pet peeves with the media. Who decides why someone deserves the mic? It is true of other places in society besides the media. I had to laugh recently, when the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Milwaukee Archdiocese came to the prison where my husband works. An unbelievable hoopla resulted--and about 60 people came to church. (I'm not dissing Bishop Dolan, who I tend to admire.) I had to recall how it was when our District Superintendent came for a service a few years ago. Not a ripple, no newspaper articles, no staff trying to attend, no special flowers planted around the chapel, no scrubbing and waxing of the floors...but the chapel was packed. Makes me say "hmmmmm."

Truth said...

He's sorry "for harm my remarks might have caused?" But it doesn't sound like he's sorry he said it or that he thought it or whatever.

It's good to be sorry that you hurt someone, but I think I agree with you that I'm not sure you can call it repentance. Like you said, he was sorry he was overheard by so many people. He was sorry others know his true feelings.

Cody said...

I think that the title "Reverend" can be used by the media for good and for worse.

For example, when a pastor takes to doing something positive, adding the title "Reverend" to his or her name gets a little more respect for the person and for the position/work/etc.

Likewise, when a pastor says something stupid, the media can't tack the title "Reverend" in front of the person's name faster.

It's sick, really, how the media totally screws around with clergy. One minute, we are angels, the next we are demons...when in reality, all we are is human beings.

Nice ruminations, Reverend Madam. You deserve the title Reverend, I think, whether or not you use it. Some people misuse and disrespect the title and shouldn't be allowed to use it. Mr. Jackson is one of those people.

God is Love,


Dorcas (aka SingingOwl) said...

"One minute, we are angels, the next we are demons...when in reality, all we are is human beings." That certainly is so, Br. Cody!