Jesse Jackson Should Retire from Public Life

07/21/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

From the very first day that I met the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson in 1976, he came across as an arrogant, self-serving opportunist. It was at a meeting of Palestinian American business leaders in Chicago, who were desperate to make their voices heard in a society that had closed them off. Jackson told these businessmen and community leaders that if they "raised tens of thousands of dollars" for him, he would "champion their cause" and be a "spokesman for Palestinian justice."

At the time, Jesse Jackson was the highest ranking and most influential public official to say that he could see some justice in the Palestinian cause. I was a cub reporter, just entering journalism. I attended the meeting and took notes for a story I planned to write for my small Arab American newspaper that I published monthly, "The Middle Eastern Voice." It bothered me that the entire focus of Jackson's comments was about how much money the community could raise for him, rather than the simple principle that as Americans, these Palestinians had a right to have their voices and views heard.

But before I could publish my newspaper story, word leaked out. Roger Simon, a columnist at the time for the Chicago Sun-Times, called me to ask if I was at the meeting and what I heard. I told him. Simon identified me as a "journalist source" at the meeting, making it obvious to all who the source had been. Years later, when Jackson entered my City Hall beat, he pointed at me and said "I know you." Surprised, I asked, "How?" And he pointed to his face and said with a glaring look I'll never forget, "I have eyes."

Well, you may have eyes, Rev. Jackson but you don't have brains.

I can understand your jealousy at watching a young, smart black man like Barack Obama do what you have tried and failed to do your entire career. I can understand you riding on Obama's coattails to interject yourself into the national spotlight that you so often covet. I can understand you feeling envy and wanting to "cut his nuts off" as you whispered so grudgingly to another guest on a television interview program.

But what I don't understand is why you stooped so low as to appear on the FOX News Network, "the base" for the extremist propaganda arm of GOP Jihadies. FOX News? Are you that desperate to stay in the limelight?

Oh, but you sure are smart. You certainly have the experience from making embarrassing off-microphone comments about everyone else, like in 1984 when you called New York "Hymietown" because of its large Jewish population. You learned from your experience to get in front of the shame and try to blur the focus from your ugly remarks. You rushed to get ahead of the controversy. You apologized and then did your best to expand it to the "bigger picture," hoping to distract from your ugliness. You said you hoped "you" wouldn't be the cause of harm to Obama's campaign. Even in your half-hearted "apology," it was still all about you.

I think that even in the ugliness of your comments, on mike or off, it was all about you being in the center circus ring.

In contrast, I have learned to truly admire your son, Congressman Jesse L. Jackson, Jr., who said in what had to be a moment of truthful courage, "Reverend Jackson is my dad and I'll always love him. He should know how hard that I've worked for the last year and a half as a national co-chair of Barack Obama's presidential campaign. So I thoroughly reject and repudiate his ugly rhetoric. He should keep hope alive and any personal attacks and insults to himself."

The Palestinian cause never needed a leader like, Rev. Jackson. All they need to do is set aside the emotion and replace their heated rhetoric with reason. As for Barack Obama, he doesn't need the Rev. Jackson either.