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Book Review: 
Shakedown! Exposing the 
Real Jesse Jackson
 by Peggy Whitcomb

"Jesse ...  is really just a David Duke in black skin,"  -- the Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson 

 Bill O'Reilly of "The O'Reilly Factor" is one of the few major media figures who does not hesitate to criticize Jesse Jackson, so it was appropriate that the author of a critical new book about Jackson appeared on that program. The book is aptly titled "Shakedown," in honor of the Reverend Jackson's success in extracting millions of dollars from weak-kneed corporations that are fearful of his calling them "racist." - Thomas Sowell

He could never have done it without the enthusiastic support of the mainstream media.  Other black leaders have noted that he is in fact, a creation of the media. Jesse Jackson was a nonentity in the early sixties. He hungered for notoriety. He wanted to be rich. His skills were those of the master con artist, and he had no shame, there was nothing he wouldn't stoop to for money and power. (Jesse's photo is a hotlink to his PBS page.  Their view of him is very different from the one you see here.)

"Shakedown! Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson" by Kenneth R. Timmerman is shocking because the truths exposed in the book were never deep, dark secrets to anyone except to the American public. The information presented, meticulously backed up by documents and interviews, was always available to journalists and columnists who made the effort to find it and had the integrity to write about it. But the few who dared were viciously attacked by the liberal media, and at times by Jesse's close friends, the Black P Stone Rangers, a violent Chicago street gang. 

Even as the national media was increasingly drawn to Jesse's theatricality and bombastic racist statements serving to promote his non-profit organizations, Jesse used the muscle of the street gang to shake-down Chicago businesses for 'contributions'. His non-profits, Operation Breadbasket and PUSH,  were merely vehicles for providing Jesse with a power base and were the illegal source of his personal income. 

After tapping out Chicago businesses, Jesse moved on, during the Carter administration, to bilking the American taxpayers out of billions of dollars in federal minority set-aside contracts (those awarded to Jesse's family and friends were usually subcontracted to white businesses) and federal grants to non-profits.  This was money never adequately accounted for, money that Jesse considered his own (illegal) private purse for his fabulously luxurious lifestyle. Several of those in the Carter administration who worked at the Commerce Department and the Labor Department, shoveling those grants and contracts to Jesse, went to work for him after Carter left office. 

To the dismay of many black leaders, the mainstream media crowned Jesse Jackson as the primary civil rights leader and spokesman for America's black community. His non-profits were supposed to provide services to America's black poor and inner-city children.  No one in the media seemed to notice or care that few benefits ever accrued to those for whom the set-asides and grants were legally intended, though Jesse got richer and more famous, and his relatives and a few well-to-do black business friends made out like bandits. (Until President Reagan cut off funds to questionable organizations like Jesse's.)  But Jesse just moved on, to mau-mauing (Timmerman's term) big American corporations. 

The mainstream media was Jesse's leverage when he put the arm on the corporations. No longer did he need to call on his half-brother Noah Robinson (whom Jesse had introduced into the Black P Stone Rangers and who is now serving a life sentence for murder) to provide gang members to intimidate Chicago businessmen or to bulk up demonstrations and boycotts.   Jesse now had available much more powerful 'muscle' to enforce his demands. 

Big business caved when Jesse threatened to shame them....in the press....as racists. One corporate executive told Timmerman that businessmen would rather be called child molesters  than to be charged with racism because the media outrage was greater! Corporate bosses knew the media was uncritical of Jesse's statements and would not investigate the charges.  Jesse 
blackmailed the companies into 'covenants' promising to hire, on Jesse's recommendations, black executives, to give business to specified black companies, and to make contributions to Jesse's non-profit organizations. The few blacks who profited from Jesse's brokering also made contributions to his non-profits and to his personal finances. He was making money 
from both sides and in the process extending his power and patronage. 

The mau-mauing of corporate America was  easy and lucrative, and became more so when Jesse took it to the heart of Wall Street in the nineties. Corporations, banks, even Alan Greenspan were soft touches for Jesse's increasingly sophisticated blackmailing. Why not? The media was far more effective and powerful as enforcers than his Chicago gang friends had been.  Jesse's statements about 'diversity' and 'access' (buzz words replacing the old 'minority set-asides') were trumpeted as God's own truth by solemn talking heads on the TV nightly news. 

The New York Times and the L.A. Times, which are the source of news for many newspaper conglomerates around the nation and for the world, praised Jesse as the leading civil rights leader even though nothing Jesse was doing benefitted the black poor.  Precious little of the millions he collected trickled down to provide services to or to educate and train blacks.  Jesse and a very few black businessmen profited. That was the goal and that was the accomplishment of his raid on Wall Street. 

A devastating section of Timmerman's book is that devoted to Jesse's activities in Africa.  Jesse never met a dictator anywhere in the world that he didn't like, if the dictator wisely cut Jesse and his friends in on the exploitation of the dictator's country -- in return for Jesse's support of him in the United States. By the mid-nineties, Jesse and President Clinton had settled their differences and Clinton named Jesse as the Special Envoy to Africa. It was 
Jesse's license to mau-mau entire countries, and he lost no time 

The tragedy is that in grabbing for a share of the looting of Africa, he sold out the poor black citizens there, just as he had done in America. The difference was that selling out poor blacks in Africa meant leaving them at the mercy of brutal murderers. Timmerman spells out exactly how Jesse's activities led directly to the slaughter of thousands in Africa. An African journalist, Tom Kamara, wrote: "Rev. Jackson is considered a civil rights leader in America, but in Africa he is a killer's rights leader." 

Why did Americans not know of what was happening in Sierra Leone or in Zimbabwe or Liberia? Why did we not know of what was being done in those countries in the name of the United States? Why did we not know of the part played by Jesse Jackson, as Special Envoy to Africa, in the blood baths in that important region of the world?  Recently, there have been 
comments in the news that Americans aren't interested in foreign news. One talking head said that news organizations should include more foreign news in their programs so as to educate Americans. 

Who decided we weren't, aren't, interested in foreign news?  The mainstream media has long been selective in what is presented to us in news programs, in newspapers. There was almost a news black-out (factual, full information) in the nineties on Africa and American foreign policy there. And there was also what now looks like a news black-out on the truth about Jesse Jackson, right here in America. 

When Jesse went on at length about his early life in horrible poverty, the media did not tell us that in fact Jesse grew up in a middle-class home with two parents. He was born illegitimate but his mother married a working man who gave Jesse his name. Jesse exploits the title of 'Reverend' but was not ordained by normal Baptist procedures. And no one in the media pointed out Jesse's very close ties to and use of a violent Chicago street gang. 

Nor did we hear about the stupendous contributions Jesse received from Arab-Americans wanting entree into American politics. These latter included the American Muslim Council that had and has now close ties to Hamas, whose military wing is one of the terrorist groups killing civilians in Israel   One Arab-American contributor had relatives among Arafat's closest advisors, including one who dispensed contracts for construction on the West Bank, contracts awarded to Jesse's family and friends in return for Jesse's support. 

Judging by Timmerman's revelations, Americans, black and white,  have been sold a bill of goods by the mainstream media.  Jesse not only ripped off small business people, ripped off tax payers, ripped off share-holders in American corporations, leaving utterly unfulfilled his promises to poor black citizens, but he also set back race relations in America.  Timmerman quotes the Reverend Johnny Hunter:  "Jesse virtually invented black racism".

Reverse racism has no other goals than empty revenge or leverage for 
blackmail.  It has nothing to do with equal opportunities for all Americans. 

Martin Luther King Jr said that he had a dream that one day his children would be judged by their character, not by the color of their skin.  Jesse insists that Americans be judged only by the color of their skin, forget character. Which makes sense in a way when it comes to Jesse Jackson.  No decent American of any race considers lying, extortion and blackmailing as qualities worthy of respect. 

Text © 2002 Peggy Whitcomb   Where known, the photos link to their source.

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