Ugly racial politics were on full display yesterday when Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke to a reception held by the Congressional Black Caucus. Long a racial demagogue, Jackson used the occasion to call out a black congressman who voted against Pelosi’s health care bill. Via the Hill:
“We even have blacks voting against the healthcare bill from Alabama,” Jackson said at a reception Wednesday night. “You can’t vote against healthcare and call yourself a black man.”
Jackson didn’t mention him by name, but it was clear he was talking about Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama. Davis, a Democrat, is one of the more conservative members of the CBC and is running for governor of Alabama. He stayed classy and had this to say:
One of the reasons that I like and admire Rev. Jesse Jackson is that 21 years ago he inspired the idea that a black politician would not be judged simply as a black leader,” Davis’s statement said. “The best way to honor Rev. Jackson’s legacy is to decline to engage in an argument with him that begins and ends with race.”
I don’t know what’s worse – Jackson’s statement or the coy messages of approving appreciation Congressional Black Caucus gave afterwards. Jackson later tried to ridiculously claim that he wasn’t saying black lawmakers should vote a certain way, just that a healthcare bill would help Davis’ home state of Alabama. In other words, don’t listen to what I said, listen to what I said I said.
This is just another despicable episode of racial identity politics rearing its head. I call BS on Jackson’s equivocation of his remark and the shrugs of his supporters. Conservative blacks are routinely roasted for holding right-of-center political views or voting Republican. Just look at how Condoleezza Rice, Michael Steele, Clarence Thomas and numerous others are treated as token blacks, race traitors and sell-outs.
When Jackson says he doesn’t think black lawmakers should vote a certain way, I quite frankly don’t believe him. According to some people, a person’s political outlook and voting patterns should be a direct result of the hue of their pigmentation. It’s bitterly divisive and moves us farther away from a color-blind society where we are judged by the content of our character and the merits of our ideas alone.