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Jesse Jackson: Back in action

By Gregory J. Hand
web posted August 13, 2001

Jesse JacksonIt was only recently that Jesse Jackson's future wasn't looking too bright. First there was the revelation about his having a mistress, who not only got to visit the Oval Office with Jackson to see Bill Clinton, but who unlike Bill's mistress also gave him an illegitimate child. Then there was the subsequent scandal involving what appeared to be a $35,000 payoff to said mistress to 'get her out of town,' so to speak, followed by allegations of financial mismanagement at his many enterprises, charges that go back almost to their creation.

On top of that whole debacle, post Florida election mess he was in the middle of a long dry spell. It was all he could do to keep up with Al Sharpton, indisputably America's most proficient race hustler, in trying to raise a stink about the U.S. Navy's use of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques. Reverend Al, despite his 90 day sentence for his own Puerto Rican antics, has successfully managed to upstage Jackson at every turn.

In fact, the best Jesse could do was whine about his wife Jackie's treatment after she had been arrested while protesting down in Puerto Rico, which probably had more to do with his gaining her approval after the affair than anything else. Like a man looking for amends, or at least one trying to prevent a nasty divorce where she could potentially strip him of a good bit of his 'donations,' he labeled her ten day sentence as being "excessive."

Poor Jackie even served to embarrass Jesse for his efforts, although given his very public infidelity, turnabout is fair play. While on the stand testifying, after having been sentenced to ten days in jail, eight of which had already been served, the fifty seven year old wife of Jesse bemoaned while in tears that, "Because of my convictions, I have spent eight days in jail suffering insults to my dignity too horrible to tell," which probably meant that she was denied the use of her boutique facial products, gourmet meals, and access to her extensive wardrobe, not to mention servants at her beck and call. She continued, "As both a mother and political prisoner, I ask you to restore my right as a citizen and my dignity." Having been denied shopping privileges on Chicago's swanky Michigan Avenue for a week and a half, the wife of the multimillionaire was able to outdo even her husband in blowing nothing so out of proportion as to defy logic.

While it would be reasonable to assume that Jackson had hit close to bottom, and that he had a long road back to recovery in the public eye, that would require the supposition that Jackson had been weakened by his recent scandals. Quite the contrary. It seems that Jackson, despite the few setbacks that have befallen him, has simply been sitting around waiting to be offended beyond the 'abuse' of his wife. This of course is the modus operandi of all left wing minority groups, getting offended at the most trivial of nonsense, only to demand financial compensation to mend the slight. Jackson has been at the forefront of these sorts of shakedowns, making not only quite the name for himself, but untold millions in supposedly getting his feelings hurt.

And his feelings are hurt yet again. Who is his latest target, this unfortunate company with the very deep pockets that has gotten Jesse all worked up, drooling at the prospect of an even fatter bank account? That would be the automobile manufacturer Toyota, or more specifically Toyota's American branch, which had an ad that Jesse didn't particularly care for.

The ad itself was a promotional postcard, one in a set of three, which had been issued by Toyota with the intention to promote the RAV4 sport utility vehicle. It had been created by international agency Saatchi & Saatchi, was, according to Toyota, part of a "buzz" campaign that relied on using postcards distributed to hip urban nightspots and coffee houses. According to their web site, "The postcard was not directed at any ethnic group."

But Toyota pulled the cards on May 14th, even before Jackson had an opportunity to get offended, "because the image could evoke negative imagery, especially among different generations." What exactly was in this ad? The card in question showed the teeth in a black person's smile with a gold miniature of the vehicle placed on one of the upper front teeth.

Even with Toyota's pulling of the ad before Jackson had filed his standard complaint, Jackson, sensing money in the air like a shark takes to blood in the water, decided to get insulted anyway. He claimed, not surprisingly, that the ad had racist overtones, as everything Jesse doesn't like always seems to have. If he had a bad night of sleeping, no doubt it was the racist mattress that caused it.

After meeting with Toyota corporate leaders, he told reporters that, "The only thing missing is the watermelon." Really? An ad showing gold capped tooth on a black man is racist? Is he serious or delusional? It would, unlike the watermelon, seem to be standard wear for many in the hip-hop set, the target audience of the ad, and it wouldn't be a stretch to claim that they probably weren't offended by it, at least not until Jesse told them to be. If Jesse wants to complain about stereotypes, why doesn't he launch against black men who father illegitimate children and walk away from their responsibility? That way he can fleece himself for a change instead of trying to screw (no pun intended) everyone else.

Jackson also called for a boycott unless Toyota met his demands, which included the creation of a, "3-5 year plan on parity, diversity and inclusion, including timetables and targets." In other words, quotas, quotas, and even more quotas. Also on Mr. Jackson's extortion list were changes that would "empower minority employees." Toyota, which saw its number of minority employees more than double between 1974 and 1992, maintained that it has always had a diverse workplace. It was just that they were not using the Jackson definition of the word 'diversity.'

Whenever Jackson takes the stage at moments such as these there is always the payout, and this time was no different. Toyota, stupidly enough, committed $7.8 billion to a "Diversity Effort," pledging the money over 10 years toward increasing business with minority suppliers and hiring more minority employees. Toyota also said that the program will include minority procurement, dealer development, job training and community support.

Jim Press, chief operating officer of Toyota's U.S. sales arm, said the automaker will spend $700 million over the next year with minority businesses, place $100 million with minority money management companies and expand the use of minority investment banking firms. Toyota will also hire a minority advertising agency next month and spend $150 million over the next three years on minority promotional programs. Toyota will also increase its budget for developing minority dealers to $25 million, and will set a goal of finding four to six new minority dealers a year.

All this, just because Jesse Jackson gets offended at an ad that had already been pulled from circulation? Apparently so. Said Toyota spokesman Mike Michels, "The discussions with Mr. Jackson have given us the opportunity to look at things more closely and comprehensively." Of that there can be little doubt. Much like a mafia don, Reverend Jackson just made them an offer that they could not refuse.

This, obviously, is nothing new for Jackson. In fact it is the latest in a long line of such extortions for personal enrichment, and that of his family and friends. Jackson, in fact, seems to prefer telecommunications mergers as his target of choice. SBC/Ameritech, GTE/Bell Atlantic, AT&T/TCI, and CBS/Viacom all had to face the Jackson assault. It cost SBC/Ameritech a $500,000 donation to Jackson's Citizenship Education Fund (CEF) to get him to back down from his protests. GTE/Bell Atlantic coughed up $1 million.

AT&T pledged $425,000 for Jackson's approval to merge with TCI, and Viacom, in order to be taken over by CBS, had to pledge $680,000 to Jackson's CEF, and their UPN subsidiary gave another $50,000. Needless to say it is quite an education to compare Jackson's comments on such mergers before and after said 'donations' have arrived.

But it isn't just Jackson who profits from such behavior, as his friends and family also seem to do extremely well. His children Yusef and Jonathan own a Chicago beer distributorship, River North Sales and Service, which they bought from Anheuser-Busch in 1998. The company has exclusive rights to an area of Chicago, which includes all bars, restaurants, hotels and nightclubs within its borders, not to mention Wrigley Field, and generates between $30 and $40 million in sales each year. Neither son had prior experience in either selling beer, or of running a mid-size company.

Anheuser-Busch, which sells 47 per cent of the nation's beer, and who dominates most markets, is second in Chicago behind the Miller Brewing Co. Anheuser-Busch's goal is to surpass Miller Brewing, who is currently in the number one position, and according to the Chicago Sun-Times, "the Jacksons will play a key role if that is to happen." Of course they will. For a fee.

Jackson, of course, had boycotted Anheuser-Busch in 1982 over the company's alleged failure to diversify its distributorships to minorities. At that time Anheuser-Busch had pledged $5 million to help minorities to buy distributorships, but it wasn't enough for Jackson, who went ahead with the boycott. A year later, Anheuser-Busch doubled that amount. Anyone taking bets that a member of the Jackson family will wind up with a lucrative Toyota dealership in the next few years?

Interestingly enough, also during the time of the Anheuser-Busch boycott, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, "A black-owned paper in St. Louis, where Anheuser-Busch is based, reported that Jackson had demanded $500 each from black businessmen to support the boycott. Jackson sued the paper, but he dropped the suit after a judge ruled that the newspaper could inspect Operation PUSH's financial records." Records that are world renowned for creative accounting.

In addition to his children, Jesse's friends also seem to do pretty well by having Jesse close by. For example, regarding the SBC/Ameritech transaction, Jackson persuaded Ameritech to sell a portion of its cellular business to Chester Davenport, a close friend of Jackson's, in a deal that put Davenport in business with GTE. Davenport, like Jesse's children with beer, had no prior experience in telecommunications. Not only that, but he only had to put up $60 million for a seven percent share of the $3.3 billion dollar transaction, which would value his portion at $231,000,000. This certainly reinforces that belief that it isn't what you know, it's who you know.

Davenport also managed to get a plug from Jackson during the CBS/Viacom merger, as he and another close friend, Percy Sutton, were two of the three Jackson suggested buyers of Viacom's sale of the UPN network, which ironically enough turned out to be a condition of FCC approval. Sutton owns Inner City Broadcasting, of which Jesse and Jackie Jackson were original investors. The shares, which are in Jackie's name, were, as of last year, still owned by the Jacksons.

There are other minority firms close to Jackson, in addition those owned by Davenport and Sutton, which get special treatment as well. For example, Blaylock & Partners, L.P., got the opportunity to co-manage the AT&T/TCI $8 billion dollar bond offering, netting them an estimated $750,000. They are just one of many. Regarding Toyota's spending $700 million over the next year with minority businesses, placing $100 million with minority money management companies and expanding the use of minority investment banking firms, and the hiring a minority advertising agency next month, in addition to a Jackson family Toyota dealership I am also taking bets that a good bit of this will go to friends of the Jackson family.

Jesse Jackson was faced with a choice in his hustling of Toyota. On the one hand he could have been more of a statesman, praising Toyota for quickly realizing the potential problems by the creation of such an ad given the hypersensitivity with some minority groups, and quickly pulling them from circulation even before such a complaint arose. Companies obviously make mistakes, and despite the harmless nature of the ad, Toyota reacted quickly as a preventative measure to head off any potential problems. Unfortunately, they were too late, although truth be told, had Jesse gotten wind that they were even contemplating such an ad campaign, it would be too late.

Jesse's second choice, his preferred choice, was to make a mountain out of a small lump. Jackson's various entities now bring in approximately $15 million per year. There can be little doubt that Jackson, along with his friends and family, will benefit greatly from Toyota's $7.8 billion dollar agreement with him. Jackson, as usual, is taking gross advantage of the situation to clean up for him and his friends. How much did Toyota donate to his Citizenship Education Fund?

This, of course, is what this racket has been all about: enriching Jackson and his friends under the guise of helping minority communities. Beyond helping Jackson and some of his millionaire friends and colleagues, the money extorted from these companies does very little to improve the lives of the blacks that Jackson purports to represent beyond the symbolism of a couple of jobs here and there. If it actually did anything beyond that, given the decades he has been pulling this stunt, demonstrative progress would have already been seen outside his close circle. But it has not.

The sad part is that the black community is strangely complicit in the whole arrangement. That the 'brotherhood' is enriched seems good enough for them, even if it doesn't benefit that vast majority of its members. Jackson complains, and the free mobs come out to give numbers to his boycott threats. The companies relent, and Jackson and Co. walk away all the richer, leaving to his mobs the one gift he is good a giving: continued hatred towards white America. There was a time when blacks served as slaves, unpaid workers on plantations that made their masters rich. Symbolically they still are. With their Jackson inspired rabble rousing, they are working for free to the benefit of their master. Master Jackson, that is. ESR

Gregory J. Hand is a political and social commentator whose weekly columns disclose his personal passion for conservative issues. His columns appear regularly at NewsCorridor, OpinioNet, and Ether Zone, and he is also a contributing writer with Enter Stage Right. He has a B.A. in Economics from Wofford College. You can view the complete catalog of all of his works on GregoryHand.com, and can reach him at ghand@gregoryhand.comghand@gregoryhand.com.

Other related articles: (open in a new window)

  • Jesse Jackson's empire by Patrick J. Reilly (April 2, 2001)
    Patrick J. Reilly has more than a few questions about the finances of the organizations that Jesse Jackson has founded or leads
  • Jesse Jackson loses direction by Mike Green (November 29, 1999)
    Mike Green says Jesse Jackson shouldn't have to Decatur, Illinois if he wanted to make a difference since the real problem isn't there
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