Wednesday, June 20, 2012
What set Jesse off this time? An athletic shoe company named Adidas was about to release a new shoe which had a plastic chain attached to it, running up to an ankle shackle. Poor taste? It doesn't even rise to poor taste. They are scumballs for trying to make money off the misery of slavery. After an uproar, Adidas backed off and isn't going to sell the shoe after all. They say the concept of the shoe had nothing at all to do with slavery. Right.
And yet, it might have not been a totally bad idea for Jesse's cause for the shoe to have made its way into the marketplace. Ask yourself who would have bought it, or worn it if not bought. I say not Asian office workers. I say not black businessmen. I say it would be worn by the cool foul-mouthed dudes of the hip-hop culture and the same ones who like to get their arms branded in black college fraternities. The only purpose for this kind of stuff is to make white people who see it feel embarrassed or ashamed or self-conscious. Anything that can do that is cool in the hip hop community. I'm sure you get the logic: people who have never been slaves trying to make people who have never owned slaves feel bad. The reward is to continue racism for yet another generation. Anyway. The shoe would have sold well to that group and for that reason. Hip white kids would then also buy them as a gesture of sympathy to the cause of their oppressed brothers and sisters. Adidas would have made a killing. Jesse Jackson should have just let the scenario play out. But his bread is buttered by stoking racial hatred.
Now, if the Rev. Jesse Jackson had only denounced the shoe as a bad idea that was hurtful to black people who remembered the history of slavery in the U.S., that would have been just fine. And whites of good will should have joined him in denouncing the insensitivity of Adidas. But no, Jesse couldn't stop at that. He had to demagogue. That's his stock in trade. So he brings up this tired lie about the U.S. Constitution. Jesse knows its a lie, and he knows he is lying to his followers when he talks about it, but he still does it after knowing the truth all these years. That sucks. From the AP news story today:
"The attempt to commercialize and make popular more than 200 years of human degradation, where blacks were considered three-fifths human by our Constitution is offensive, appalling and insensitive," said Jesse Jackson, one of the most high-profile critics.
Rev. Jackson is right that the part about black slaves being counted as only three-fifths of a person was certainly originally in the constitution in 1787, though long since amended. But wouldn't it be more helpful and healing if he went on to explain what was REALLY going on in the minds of the constitution writers at that time, instead of letting it stand as "proof" that white people then only considered blacks as less than a "real" person? Wouldn't it? So why doesn't he? Because the truth would be detrimental to his goal of keeping his followers nodding their heads in unison about bad white people.
The truth? There would have been no United States of America without the southern states being a part of it. At that time the South had slaves in great quantity. If the northern states wanted the South to join their proposed union, there would have to be a compromise. That compromise was to agree to continue to allow the importation of slaves until the year 1808 (congress later outlawed the further importation of slaves effective January 1, 1808.) The South wanted something else: they wanted their slaves counted in the census enumeration so that they could have more representatives in congress. The northern states rebelled at this demand. They felt (rightly) that the black slaves would still not have representatives in congress arguing their cause; their white owners would just have more representation in congress. The South would not give up on this demand entirely (and they were very powerful, especially Virginia; without Virginia there would have been no union) but the north at least was able to back them down a bit. Just a bit. Virginia and the others finally agreed to count only three-fifths of their slaves in the census. That still gave them more representation in congress than they should have been entitled to, and make no mistake: that representation did not represent black slaves. It gave lopsided representation to black slave owners. But a union was forged, an imperfect union that would be under constant construction over the next centuries.
So Jesse Jackson is still telling his followers that the dirty old white men who started this country believed that their slave ancestors were only three-fifths of a man. And there he stops.
In other news, Rodney King drowned Sunday. I think it was Sunday. Rodney King of the infamous LA police beating and subsequent race riots in LA. It was Rodney King who said afterward, "Can't we all just get along?"