Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Plays the
Fool Once Again
Says He Fears Jesse Jackson May
Have Him Killed (!)
December 14, 2001
Time for some comic relief:
I previously brought to your attention an
individual named the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, proclaimed
an African-American "leader" by the conservative press. Obviously
also boasting a direct link to God and therefore qualified to determine
whether someone is entitled to call themselves a man of the cloth, Rev.
Peterson was at the time demanding that Jesse Jackson cease using the title
Fast forward to the
present. If I gave out a Fool of the Week award, the hands down winner
this week would again be Rev. Peterson.
As you may know, this past
August Jesse Jackson won an agreement
from Toyota to spend "$7.8 billion over the next decade to develop more
minority-owned dealers, increase spending with minority suppliers and
promote diversity." Among other things,
- "Toyota pledged to
spend $700 million annually with ethnic minority-owned suppliers, up
from $453 million this year, and $50 million with minority advertising
agencies and media.
- The company will also hire
a new African-American agency to join its two existing agencies by Sept.
- Additionally, the
automaker will spend $25 million to recruit and finance new minority
dealers and $2.2 million in philanthropic support for minority groups.
About $7 million will be set aside to train minorities for good-paying
jobs at dealerships."
Pretty good, huh? Not
to African-American conservatives like Rev. Peterson. They condemn
Jackson as a "racial hustler" and a "shakedown artist,"
labeling his interactions with Toyota as "extortion."
So who shows up at a Jesse
Jackson/Toyota event to demand his share of the "extortion"
money? That's right, Rev. Peterson. If it's extortion money, why
does he want a part of it?
But that's not the (entire)
comic element here. Rev. Peterson claims he was shoved by Jesse
Jackson's son, and that became a huge story
on wacky-right Newsmax.com. Bill
O'Reilly, whose obsession with Jesse Jackson should be analyzed by a
psychiatrist, did a segment with Rev. Peterson on his Fox News hit show The
Rev. Peterson is a publicity
hound, and even at this point in the story his attempts to garner media
coverage by attacking Jesse Jackson are merely annoying and pathetic.
What crosses the line into the truly absurd is this:
The next day a Newsmax.com headline
blared "Civil Rights Leader Fears for Life After Jesse Jackson
Confrontation." Wow, I thought, what else happened? What
evidence does Rev. Peterson have to back up that charge? None, it
turns out. Most appropriately, Rev. Peterson's ridiculous charge was
made on the radio show of that master of the half-truth, Sean Hannity:
"After leaving that
meeting Monday I realized that these people are so mean and desperate that
they would take me out," Rev. Peterson told WABC Radio's Sean
Then Peterson warned,
"Sean, if anything happens to me I want you to make sure you turn
this tape over to the authorities and have them look into Jesse Jackson's
organization or anybody that's connected with him.
"Jackson may not
personally do it himself," Peterson said, "but I personally
believe that he would order it done."
Talk about delusions of
grandeur. Does Rev. Peterson really believe that even were someone
willing to commit murder, they would bother to whack an
"important-only-in-his-own-eyes" grandstander like him?
Moreover, what an outrageous
slur to make against Jesse Jackson, who risked his own life over
and over again doing civil rights work in the Deep South with Martin Luther
King, Jr. It could have been Jackson who was shot on that balcony, not
Dr. King. It could have been Jackson, not Medgar Evers, who was shot
Rev. Peterson not only wants
to bask in some of Jackson's well-earned public attention, he apparently
also craves the gravitas and respect that accrues to those like Jackson who
put their lives on the line.
Sorry Rev. Peterson, you have
to earn that status. Simply making ludicrous allegations that you fear
for your life doesn't cut it. It just marks you as a fool.