- The Washington Times - Friday, January 26, 2001

A tiny love child may be the least of the Rev. Jesse Jackson's problems. He's at risk for conviction of fraud.

This time he's in the court of public opinion, from which there is no appeal.

Jesse has been running an elaborate extortion scheme, collecting hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not millions) from corporations that had rather settle out of court than try to prove they're not racist.

"Racism," as John Ashcroft could tell you, has replaced "communism" as the crime for which the accusation is all the proof needed to convict. Charlatans, downtown thugs and uptown thieves throw the word around with gleeful abandon, and a lot of people are afraid to speak up to defend themselves. Instead of speaking up, they pay up.

Jesse has allies, reluctant as some of them may be, in Congress. Some of the tormentors of John Ashcroft have become so hysterical that the suspicion is unavoidable that Jesse must have interesting stuff in his files to keep certain skeletons dancing to music of his choosing. Sen. Patrick Leahy, Democrat of the Boutique of Vermont, yesterday chided Mr. Ashcroft for supporting the right of a schoolgirl to put a tiny Confederate flag on her knapsack and asked him whether he approves attempts to redesign the flags of several Southern states, which is none of a U.S. attorney general's business, whoever he may be. (The thrilling state flag of Vermont portrays a glass of chilled chablis, a wedge of brie and a wilted bean sprout.) Not since the Army-McCarthy hearings in the early 1950s has Washington seen a senator attempt to punish private political thought, but Jesse Jackson, coming out of his weekend "healing" session, is determined to defeat the Ashcroft nomination lest he reveal to his disillusioned constituency that his mighty jaw is made of glass. Democrats in the Senate must heel while he heals.

The reverend has his own reasons for keeping a friendly constituency in Congress, or at least a frightened one, just as he had his own reasons for trying to prevent a robust Republican national administration from succeeding a compliant Democratic one. His tax troubles are well-known.

"For example," writes columnist Bill O'Reilly (of the Fox Network's "O'Reilly Factor"), who has been investigating Mr. Jackson's finances, "in 1998 the Rainbow-PUSH Coalition cited $1.2 million in travel expenses. But no receipts were provided in the [state of] Illinois tax return. You try that.

"In 1982, the Internal Revenue Service reviewed Mr. Jackson's non-profit status. About $1 million was unaccounted for. Mr. Jackson was ordered to repay about $700,000 to the government. It took him years to do it. The IRS did not charge him interest or penalty. You try to get that deal."

A lot of people are afraid of Jesse Jackson, and they're afraid of him because Americans, the overwhelming majority of whom are white, are not nearly as awful as Jesse says they are. It's ultimately the fear of white disapproval and white punishment that makes the charge so terrifying. Nobody knows this better than the extortionist himself. When he approached a Silicon Valley employer not long ago to demand that it hire his "consultants" on "integrating" the company, the CEO, knowing that his company had an exemplary record of minority employment, told Jesse to get lost. Naturally, he accused the CEO of rampant racism. This is an updated version of the racket Al Capone perfected, "inviting" businessmen to take him as partner or else.

But just as it was the respectable whites who finally had enough and cracked down on the Klan element in the South of a generation ago, so it is the embarrassed blacks who finally have been humiliated one time too many by Jesse Jackson. When he showed up at a black church in Harlem the other night to preach, pray and play the poor wretch in need of amazing grace, as if ancient Confederate nightriders from the Missouri backwoods had forced the lady on him, only the politicians with the biggest mouths were there to show solidarity. The prominently missing, reports Rod Dreher in the New York Post, were "the powerful New York City black clergy like Calvin Butts, Floyd Flake, A.R. Bernard, Gary Simpson, Franklin Richardson, and their followers."

When news of Jesse's love child surfaced last week, it was the unexpected suspects Jerry Falwell, George W. Bush who were the first to call to express Christian pity. Prominent black liberal pundits Clarence Page, Cynthia Tucker, E.R. Shipp and Jack White applied heat from the left, perhaps annoyed no little by the guilty white notion that Jesse should be excused by the fact that although following in the footsteps of Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart he is, after all, black. Racism, anyone?


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