Rarely am I at a total loss for words. Though rarely eloquent, I do have a gift for inane babble. At least that was the case until yesterday.
Yesterday I made the mistake of listening to Rev. Jesse Jackson’s “Keep Hope Alive” radio program on a road trip from Arizona to California. As I listened, I knew I needed to do a less frivolous blog than usual. But when I sat down at the computer last night no words could properly capture my reaction. I was totally speechless.
Now, some 24 hours since the airing of the show, I am just beginning to wrap my mind around the experience. My first thought is: “I must immediately pull my daughter out of college!” My second thought is: “There needs to be Federal restrictions on who can prefix their name with the title of “Dr.”
First, let me make some things clear. I am neither liberal nor conservative. I have no loyalty to any major political party. I’m of the opinion that any politician who has made an impact on the national scene has sold his or her soul so many times to gain that standing that they have little value to me. The same can be said of political commentators with celebrity status (the Rush Limbaugh’s and Jesse Jackson’s of the world).
In the interest of full disclosure I should point out that I lost all respect for Jesse since seeing him in action at his Rainbow/PUSH coalition “church” on the south-side of Chicago back in ’82. There he was, amongst the poorest of the poor, talking about how he was one of them. He too lived on Chicago’s south side. He knew their struggles.
His impassioned speech was quite effective. The audience was literally waving their limited cash in the air, ready to give generously of what little they had. Living on the south side myself, I saw one glaring flaw in his speech. In the middle of the housing projects and dilapidated dwellings to the south of Chicago lies a little white bread enclave surrounding the University of Chicago known as Hyde Park. At the heart of Hyde Park lies an exclusive gated community filled with multimillion dollar homes--one of the most expansive of which belonged to the good Reverend himself.
Saying he lived on the south side is like me saying my dream vacation is going to a Third World country to do charity work. Of course by “Third World country” I mean Tahiti. And by “charity work” I mean throwing twenty dollar bills at a pool boy dancing seductively in a Speedo.
This past Sunday, Jesse’s loose grasp on facts was again in full force. Over a two hour period he made the following assertions:
1. While the families of the victims of 911 were so generously compensated that they are now millionaires, the victims of Hurricane Katrina have received “absolutely zero.” Umm, didn’t they all get debit cards for short-term needs? Aren’t the city and its levies being rebuilt? Didn’t the Katrina tax break spur an unprecedented outpouring of donations topping $11 billion? But wait, Jesse has a march organized this weekend in New Orleans, so I guess “absolutely zero” plays a little better.
2. The war in Iraq is responsible for last week’s Virginia Tech massacre. Jacksonian logic works like this: The Iraq war is putting guns in the hands of young people and teaching them to “kill without conscience.” The Virginia Tech shooter was young, had guns and killed without conscience. Hence the Iraq war fostered this tragedy. What? I haven’t taken a class in Aristotelian logic in some years, but did he just say “If A equals B then shower flip flops are bananas?”
3. The war in Iraq, the Virginia Tech shooting, the Don Imus firing, the firestorm surrounding Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and the slashing of budgets for mental healthcare by Ronald Reagan make it imperative that the march in New Orleans this coming weekend be supported. Stop! I can’t even begin to relate how he tied these disparate issues together. Basically the Jesse approach is to throw out hot button topics, get listeners fired up and encourage them to get on his website and support his causes. Thoughtful reflection is not recommended.
Wow! After two hours of this I was mentally exhausted. But my beef is not with the 99 Cent Store knockoff of the Saks Fifth Avenue original Martin Luther King. My beef is with his panel of so-called experts. Throughout the broadcast Jesse pulled in a gaggle of "Dr.’s" from some of the top universities in the country.
Call me jaded, but I’m guessing these aren’t the kind of doctors who can prescribe the kind of drugs that kept Anna Nicole Smith looking so lucid. I’m thinking they are doctors like I’m a rocket scientist. Sure I’ve taken an excessive amount of college courses and written numerous papers, but my only successful “launch” was a bottle rocket at a Mexican beach… as I danced seductively in a Speedo.
Despite their degrees and titles, not one of these holders of a doctorate stepped up and questioned the butter-knife sharp logic of the Rev. Jesse Jackson. These molders of young minds just jumped into the conversation, fanned the flames of entitlement fever and ultimately plugged a book or newspaper column which they had authored.
Holey Cheese Batman! Are these the people we want shaping the next generation of leaders? Do these mush-brained academics deserve their self-bestowed titles? Please, can we limit the conferring of "Dr." to individuals who probe my rectum for signs of prostate trouble and not their personal amusement?
Over the entire two-hour broadcast only one individual challenged the reasoning skills of Pastor Jackson… and he was no self-described academic physician. He was a caller who had been relocated from the 9th Ward of New Orleans to Houston. A caller who Jesse apparently wanted to hold out as a poster boy for his upcoming march. Only one problem. While the caller was displaced by Hurricane Katrina, rather than complain about the hardships endured he said it was the best thing that ever happened. “I had no economic opportunities living in the 9th Ward,” he said. “Moving to Houston was the best thing that ever happened to me. Now I can build a life for my family.”
Then the caller went silent. “And we are marching to help people like you too,” interjected Rev. Jackson to the approval of his supporting cast of Dr.’s.