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Sweet column: Jackson tells Sweet Obama "does not have to jump through hoops to prove his ethnicity." Does not recall saying Obama is "acting like he's white."

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WASHINGTON -- The Rev. Jesse Jackson told the Chicago Sun-Times on Wednesday night he doubted a flare-up over a remark attributed to him about White House hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) "acting like he's white" would harm the campaign. He called discussions about the blackness or whiteness of the biracial Obama "absurd."


Jackson, who has endorsed Obama, on Tuesday was conducting a voter registration drive in South Carolina, a crucial early primary state with a substantial African-American vote. A big black voter turnout would help Obama.

The Wednesday edition of the State, a South Carolina newspaper, said that Tuesday, "Jackson sharply criticized presidential hopeful and Illinois Sen. Barack Obama for "acting like he's white" in what Jackson said has been a tepid response to the arrest of six black juveniles on attempted-murder charges in Jena, La."

Jackson said he did not recall making the racially charged remark.

Steve Brook, deputy managing editor of the State, said, "We stand by our story." The disputed comment was made after a speech and was not taped.

"I don't associate myself with that statement, that's not my position," Jackson said. "... I'm dumbfounded by this story. ... Black enough, white enough, this argument is an absurd one." Obama, he said, "does not have to jump through hoops to prove his ethnicity.''

Jackson said in a statement that while Obama has "remarkably transcended race," the "impact of Katrina and Jena makes America's unresolved moral dilemma of race unavoidable."

The Obama campaign jumped into damage-control mode Wednesday, sending out memos to reporters and South Carolina elected officials and political activists detailing statements Obama has made supporting the "Jena 6," the latest chapter in the nation's ongoing struggle with racial equality.

Jackson told the Sun-Times that Obama campaign adviser Ertharin Cousin, aware of the pending story, called him Tuesday night seeking "clarity." Jackson sent out a statement reaffirming his support for Obama.

Obama issued a statement Wednesday saying, "Outrage over an injustice like the Jena 6 isn't a matter of black and white. It's a matter of right and wrong." Obama added he had been consulting with Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.), one of his national campaign chairmen, on how he should be framing his comments about the Jena 6.

Jackson spoke with the Sun-Times as he was leaving South Carolina, where he was organizing under the banner of the Rainbow/PUSH organization he founded, en route to Jena for a demonstration today in support of the black teens.

He was critical of Democrats in general for not speaking out louder in defense of the Jena 6. "At least Barack issued a statement," Jackson said. He said Democrats -- not naming any names -- should "at least call for hearings. Whether it's the Jena 6 or Katrina, it is just too obvious to ignore."

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5 Comments

Just out of curiosity, did the white kid deserve the beating? He was beaten to a pulp, yet the beaters are the ones "deserving" a rally? If this is what the modern civil rights movement has become, I gracefully exit the movement and ride into the sunset.

Just out of curiosity - The white boy is transcendent and the bruises looked like he was beating to a pulp.

Don't forget he was suppose to been beating to death yet, he was able to attend a party that following night.

I gracefully accept the ride and do into the storm of Jena 6

People like Jesse(Hymietown)Jackson and Sharpton leading a parade of racists down to Louisiana to try to get 6 black boys out of trouble is exactly what the civil rights "hustle" has become. Trying to legalize black on white crime is what the goal is. I just hope uninformed, apathetic white people wake up and realize the war that is being declared on them from the black population in this country. This Jena 6 episode is just the latest declaration of that war.

Re; The Jena Six
HELLO!
Is any [wise] one out there?
This was a hate crime and the animal like mob madness of these young men should not be defended. Six of them beat ONE because of some stupid implication with nooses? They have now somehow been made the victims. If they had left it alone at the cruel joke they could have been considered victims but they made a choice and are now the criminals and must be treated as such. In essence they put the nooses on.
SIX to ONE? Come on ! When is that okay?
I went to jail at age 17 [charged as an adult] many years ago for a fight on the school yard. I didn’t like it but it was and is the law. As for the 16 year old… it would not be the first time a person that age was tried as an adult.
Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton should sit down and shut up! These agitating, race baiting, bigoted poverty pimps deserve no respect. Reverend? Please. Shame, shame, shame be upon them.
And you white supremacists who can’t tell color from character, you need to sit down and shut up too. You are just as bad, only you’re at the other end of the pendulum.
Every body calm down, don’t look at the color of these kids and follow the laws in place. It’s really that easy. You might try applying it to all situations.
PS. Obama just lost my potential vote

Since this is a political blog, I will make a political comment. Notice how Hillary, Obama, and Edwards all came out in support of the Jena 6 criminals. Also notice how no republican candidate came out in support of these punks. So next year, if you vote for Hillary, Obama or Edwards, you will be voting for someone who thinks it's okay when six blacks beat one white person into the emergency room.

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Lynn Sweet

Lynn Sweet is a columnist and the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Lynn Sweet published on September 20, 2007 8:30 AM.

Sweet blog special: New Obama Iowa ad/Reaching out to Independents, Obama relies on "Straw Cynics." was the previous entry in this blog.

Sweet blog extra: Obama takes walk on vote to condemn MoveOn.org ad. 97 senators vote. Obama one of three who don't. UPDATED. is the next entry in this blog.

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