SPRINGDALE, Wash., Dec. 3 (UPI) -- ***** See editorial notes in box below
Clutching newspapers under my arm on Oct. 9, I settled into my United Airlines seat for the trip home to eastern Washington state. In boarding my plane I negotiated the post-Sept. 11 security system at Chicago's O'Hare Airport with little difficulty.
Before leaving the Windy City, I celebrated another birthday on Monday, October 8. Richard Thomas, a Chicago businessman, and I went to the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition offices to congratulate Rev. Jesse Jackson on his 60th birthday. Jackson and I have been friends for 37 years. We were students at Chicago Theological Seminary, then worked for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference's Operation Breadbasket. We grieved Dr. King's assassination, but we kept organizing in Chicago and in other cities across the United States. Thomas, too, was part of the SCLC team and in the later formation of Operation PUSH.
Contented with my visits with family and friends, I began reading Chicago papers as my flight headed west. Michael Sneed's column, Chicago Sun-Times, October 9, changed my mood.
Sneed opened the piece with the headline, "Wave 'em." The column stated: "It should be noted that the Rev. Jesse Jackson has chosen not to fly an American flag in front of his house..., nor are the Stars and Stripes flying in front of the Operation PUSH headquarters....It just seems strange Jesse would eschew such a small effort when he was willing to make such a big effort to fly to Afghanistan to negotiate with the terrorists a few weeks ago."
Since Dr. King's assassination in 1968 in Memphis, Tenn., Rev. Jackson has become America's ubiquitous commentator on ethics and morals, civil rights discrimination, education and opportunities for youth, foreign-held hostages, politics, business development, plus culture and the arts, among other things.
What possessed one of America's most well known men to take such a position? In the aftermath of the September 11 attack on the United States, his behavior was strange to me.
Rev. Jackson is not required to hoist Old Glory anywhere. Yet, he has enjoyed more of the rights, privileges and opportunities than most Americans of any race, color, ethnic origin, or religion. He has used his vast energies and strength of mind to propel his person and ideas on to national and international stages.
Once home, I e-mailed Ken Roberts, Chief Operating Officer of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, to urge him to discuss the flag matter with Rev. Jackson. A retired Army officer, Roberts was a combat leader. His last military assignment included service at the Pentagon. He told me the section where he worked was destroyed by the crashing airliner in the attack on the Pentagon. He knew some of those murdered by the terrorists.
As a combat veteran, Roberts has a perspective on war and terror that Rev. Jackson lacks. His training and background should enable him to give Rev. Jackson a sorely needed understanding on how this attack on American soil caused a fundamental change in our nation. His military career prepared him to give Jackson and the whole Rainbow/PUSH organization a vital perspective on this war declared by President Bush and executed by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld with America's military forces.
A few days later, I sent Rev. Jackson a fax on my thoughts regarding his choice not to fly the flag. Sneed's column, Jackson should know, was likely seen not only by his friends, but also America's enemies who note his actions.
I further stated in my October 16 letter: "September 11, and now the anthrax scare, marked a most dramatic change in our nation, on the free world, and in our own lives. In this direct attack upon our land, 6,000 Americans and people from over 80 nations were destroyed, killed, murdered. The terrorists, or murderers, including their leaders, planners, supporters, financiers, and others, tried to kill 60,000 people in their attacks on New York, Washington, DC, and possibly other targets. Only by the grace of God were more people not destroyed that morning. Is it hard to conceive that those same evil people want to destroy 6 million, 16 million, or even 60 million Americans by 'any means necessary,' including using weapons of mass destruction?"
Three ideas were advanced to Rev. Jackson on why he should fly the flag:
"First, flying the flag has a new meaning for me and many Americans. It
represents our country. It is our place of origin, our home that was struck in a horrible deed. Our flag reflects all Americans in our desire to support our nation stabbed unprovoked. This terrible act threatens all our liberties, hopes, and desires, even in our 'not yet' perfect nation.
"Second, you took a major step in running as a highly creditable candidate for President of the United States. In pursuing such a position, you stated to the nation and the world that you wanted to serve as Commander-in-Chief of our nation's military. Have you changed since 1984 or 1988 that you choose not to fly the flag as a political leader in this nation?
"Third, you are the head of an American family. A Presidential candidate and a Presidential counselor, you with your family are recognized influences across the nation. Your son is a Member of Congress who swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States. You, Jackie (Mrs. Jackson), and your sons and daughters have taken advantage of the opportunities this nation holds in religion, civil rights, business, education and the arts. You represent the American story that has been demonstrated many times by people who have had little, but have made much and contributed to the greatness of America. Is it asking too much to fly the flag to honor your benefits and contributions to America in her time of distress?"
It is refreshing to see the jubilation of Afghan people as they are liberated from the yoke the Taliban and Al Qaeda. These evil men are the 21st Century slave masters who destroy, rather than build. They want to impose their ideas and behavior on Muslims and others around the world. This is contrary to all that America stands for in this new century.
Rev. Jackson played quarterback during his college football career. He is
familiar with game plans, then executing them in the pursuit of victory.
President Bush articulated America's game plan in his September 20 televised address to Congress. The contest is underway; the ball is in play now as American military forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere engage in the war on terrorism.
Does Rev. Jackson have a problem with America's fight against her enemies?
-- David M. Wallace is a political activist living in Washington State and a long time associate of Rev. Jackson. This piece was originally electornically by the Free Congress Research and Education Foundation, Inc., a conservative group in Washington, DC.