Tuesday, July 13, 2010
JESSE JACKSON (*yawn*) PLAYS THE RACE CARD
If there's any real leadership in the 21st century American civil rights movement, they'll come down like a ton of bricks on Jesse Jackson for his incendiary take on Lebron James - or more specifically, on Cleveland Cavaliers' owner Dan Gilbert's reaction to losing James. Gilbert's tirade after James left Cleveland to sign as a free agent with Miami was petty, mean-spirited and worthy of the fine imposed by NBA Commissioner David Stern, but it had nothing to do with runaway slaves, masters or plantations - all loaded terms that the Reverend Jackson used in a predictable, half-baked and reckless attempt to correlate modern sports free agency with the Emancipation Proclamation. He accuses Gilbert of having a "slave master" mentality and of treating James like a "runaway slave." If that's not an affront to the memory of generations of African Americans who suffered and died as captive, forced laborers, I don't know what is. Jackson also cherry picks his facts by invoking the names of Curt Flood and Spencer Haywood, two black athletes who, in Jackson's words, "changed the plantation rules," but he conveniently ignores Andy Messersmith and Dave McNally - two white baseball players who were instrumental in striking down the reserve clause and paving the way for free agency in sports. Dan Gilbert's sour grapes over losing Lebron James were small-minded and unbecoming, but Jesse Jackson's transparent attempt to spin it into a race issue is dangerous and irresponsible, and exposes Jackson as a racist more than it does anyone else.