Leave it to Jesse Jackson to speak in grandiose, racial terms when it comes to the Wisconsin recall election. And it’s not just the Right that’s taking notice (although the reason is quite different).
On Ed Schultz’s MSNBC program on Monday, the host talked glowingly of Jackson’s recent statements, summarizing some and playing others:
Yes, that’s Schultz paraphrasing Jackson as saying, “He called this election one of the biggest moments in the history of our democracy. He compared it to Emmett Till’s Lynching and Rosa Parks refusing to give up her seat.” And of course he then played the audio of Jackson comparing Walker to segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace.
The Weekly Standard has a paraphrase of what happened during Jackson’s speech:
Two days before the election, a crowd of 250 Democratic and union activists gathered to hear from Reverend Jackson and a host of left-wing leaders. The crowd applauded mightily when one union leader compared Scott Walker’s reforms to the attacks on 9/11. They rose to their feet when a local teachers union head screamed that Walker is a serial liar. And they cheered wildly when Jackson compared Walker to segregationist Alabama governor George Wallace.
“So now you have a governor,” Jackson thundered. “Wallace did it in Alabama and now Walker in Wisconsin – trying to take back access to vote.”
In many ways, Jackson was the most moderate of the speakers who addressed the crowd, his comparison of Walker to George Wallace notwithstanding. “There are these defining moments,” Jackson said, “big moments in the history of our democracy.” He drew a line from Emmett Till’s lynching to Rosa Parks’s civil disobedience to Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech and, finally, Barack Obama’s acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention on August 28, 2008, “another big day.” The June 5, 2012 recall would be yet another big day, he said.
As the Standard notes, the shocking statements weren’t just coming from Jackson. During the same meeting, someone invoked 9/11 to say that those greedy, rich bankers never saved anyone’s lives during threat World Trade Center attack (ignoring the fact that Walker’s collective bargaining reforms do not apply to the police and firefighters’ unions):
Hanley continued: “On September 11, when we were attacked, I didn’t see any bankers running up the stairs to save lives. … Rev. Jackson, I looked really hard to find somebody from Wall Street only a few blocks away from the trade center who would run over and save a life. I couldn’t find any. There were none. It was the public workers…And now we have watched people including some politicians in this state turn public employees into a worse enemy than Osama bin Laden.”
But back to Jackson.
When Schultz asked Jackson why he compared Walker to Wallace, he based it on the idea of voter ID efforts: “One has tried to block the vote and lost, and Walker’s trying to stop the vote and will lose.”
Of course he also went on to invoke Martin Luther King and called collective bargaining a fundamental right. Watch the full interview below: