Jailbird Jesse Never Earns His Stripes
There are some mysteries in life that we’ll never understand. How does love turn to hate? Why do flammable and inflammable have the same meaning? Why is Pluto limited to a dog’s normal locomotion while Goofy walks around on two feet? Why are so many self-styled feminists about as feminine as John Wayne?
This week’s mystery involves Jesse Jackson. He was arrested Monday for blocking traffic at Yale University. His cause du jour is the strike being conducted by some service and clerical workers at the school.
The Most Reverend Jackson, who’s never met a TV camera he didn’t like, made the most of it. Using the back of a police wagon as his podium, he hoisted his hands, bound in plastic ties, above his head and defiantly raised them in victory, turning around slowly so that nobody missed his triumphant moment back in the public eye.
This certainly wasn’t Jackson’s first brush with the law. He’s been getting arrested for years. Just a few of his greatest hits:
Jesse sat down in the middle of New York’s Fifth Avenue in 1993 to protest the detention of HIV-positive Haitians at the U.S. Naval base at Guantanamo Bay. Oddly, the police didn’t welcome Jackson’s relaxed posture and arrested him.
In 1999, he availed himself of New York City’s hospitality once again and was arrested in a demonstration against police brutality.
The same year, he was charged in Decatur, Illinois with criminal trespass and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. This was in a demonstration opposing the expulsion of six high school students for fighting.
In 2001, he was arrested in an Oklahoma demonstration against the execution of a black woman who’d been found guilty of killing her lesbian lover, a woman she’d met in prison.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of his encounters with the criminal justice system. So the question is: With a record like his, why doesn’t he spend much, if any, time in jail? He’s always out and about, frenetically seeking new opportunities for self-promotion and, of course, more money.
It appears as though authorities never detain him very long. Are they afraid he’ll miss an appointment with his manicurist? Do they keep him around just long enough to get his autograph?
And what sort of sentences are handed to him? The press is peculiarly quiet about what happens after the arrests. Jackson often complains that blacks are disproportionately punished in courts. It looks like, despite being a repeat offender, he’s never punished.
The day of his most recent arrest, Jesse said, "This is the site of national Labor Day outrage." That’s especially rich, coming from a guy who has so little work experience of his own. Unless you count being a scam artist extraordinaire as work.
Jackson is outraged over how Yale treats its employees, specifically the members of two locals of the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees International Union. The service and clerical workers, those poor exploited workers of the world, earn an average wage of $32,000 a year.
Yale is offering the two locals immediate wage increases of nine percent and 14 percent. This is in addition to seven weeks of paid leave. And a health plan in which the school pays the full cost, with no deductible or co-payments required of employees. Oh, and then there’s the college scholarships of up to $46,400 per child for employees who’ve worked at Yale full-time for six years or more. Not to mention the $25,000 housing grant for employees who buy homes in designated neighborhoods.
Naturally, such shoddy treatment of employees is intolerable. I’m sure that Jackson is much more generous with the people who work for him and look forward to his public disclosure of the compensation packages he offers. We know how munificent he was with a former employee who did double duty as his mistress.
"This is going to be for economic justice what Selma was for the right to vote," Mr. Jackson told fellow demonstrators at Yale. Decatur was another Selma, according to the Rev. As was Florida after the 2000 election, Houston, when he was there defending racial preferences, Riverside, California, where there was a police shooting, Hollywood, when it wasn’t handing out Academy Awards in accordance with affirmative action requirements, and New York any number of times.
So many Selmas, so
little time. Maybe that’s why police authorities never
bother to measure Mr. Jackson for the striped jail uniform he ought to
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