Speech criticizes country’s attitude

By Gretchyn Lenger

The middle class is collapsing, and this generation’s challenge is to implement laws against racism and unite against economic violence, the Rev. Jesse Jackson said Saturday.

The United States has lost 500,000 manufacturing jobs in the last seven years, Jackson said. Of the 1.3 million jobs created by President Reagan in the last seven years, six of 10 pay $7,000 a year or less, he said.

“As opposed to making cars, mechanics, rubber and textiles, they’re selling hamburgers and chicken sandwiches at junk bars,” Jackson said.

e said 80,000 family farmers have been driven from their land “with no sense of mercy and no place to go … there are many rural areas with no telephone or lights and no medical care. That’s legal. Closing plants on workers without notice, building more missiles, threatening the whole human race in the name of peace is legal.”

Jackson criticized the Reagan administration saying, “Today there’s a sense of humiliation because the confidence of the American people has been betrayed by the president.” He said the White House sold arms to Iran of its own volition and is “myriad in corruption and immorality.”

“Although there are many details we do not know about this scandal, we know it is worse than Watergate … Watergate was local thuggery and thievery, an attempt to cover up a series of relatively small lies that grew bigger and bigger.

“This current scandal is more devastating,” he continued. “Lives have been lost, our foreign policy has been adversely affected and it has damaged our nation in the world of nations.”

e added, “All of this took place in the White House. If the president did not know about it, and it took place in his house, that is bad. If he did know about it and is covering it up, that is bad. If he knew about it and forgot it, that is worse.”

Jackson, who formed the National Rainbow Coalition as part of an unsuccessful 1984 presidential campaign, said this generation must set its agenda. We must not be sidetracked by racism in the struggle to unite against political and social injustices, he said.

Jackson said, “This year, a series of incidents on matters of race have dominated the news,” and he said it would be a mistake to let these confrontations define this generation’s age.

“Should we let 40 insecure, sick and frightened people behind their robes and hoods, in the backwoods of Georgia, define the new Georgia or the new America? Is the new Georgia 40 rock-throwing Klansmen who lost their chicken farms, who lost their property, who lost their jobs and have now lost their way?” Jackson asked.

“America is a quilt and not a blanket—a piece of unbroken cloth with many patches, many pieces, many colors, many sizes, bound by a common thread and that is the genius of America,” he said.

“Twenty years ago we stood outside the steps of the Lincoln monument and had a dream. This generation cannot just stand outside and dream. It must use its power to go inside the White House and implement its dream.”

Jackson said this generation must not just “abhor” apartheid, “we must end apartheid … We are treating South Africa with too much tolerance and patience. Sanctions are not enough. We must have the will to end apartheid.” He added, “None of the prospective democratic candidates have ever been to Southern Africa … you can’t teach what you don’t know, you can’t lead where you don’t go.”

In addition, Jackson said we must “redefine our relationship with the Soviet Union. We must have more trade and cultural expansion, more chance for negotiations and arms reduction, in the interest of both nations and the world. Our generation must not sit in isolation of the nuclear build-up.”

On a visit to Hiroshima, Jackson said he saw various atrocities left over from the nuclear bombs which ended World War II. He said he saw horses whose flesh had been charred in full stride and people who had been sitting on the sidewalk had “their shadows frozen in the cement.”

“Anyone who is talking about using a nuclear bomb as a bargaining chip is using very vulgar and obscene language. We must meet the change and the charge to stop testing and deploying nuclear weapons … we must choose the human race over the nuclear race,” Jackson said.

As for his candidacy in the 1988 presidential election, Jackson said state senator and family friend Howard B. Brookins, D-Chicago, is “coordinating the efforts of some of our friends who are in the process of putting together an exploratory committee to study the options for the 87-88 campaign.”

e said he learned a lot from the last campaign and “this time we’re capable of getting 10 million votes, and that’s enough to win.”

Jackson closed his speech by saying he would be heading back to Chicago, where he has been campaigning for Harold Washington in his bid for re-election.

“I’m going back to Chicago to take care of business so we can celebrate Tuesday night,” Jackson said.