Often stories like this become opinion or commentary pieces. This will be neither. This is a story about two men seeking attention, and playing political chess. Or should it be a cage fight between Jesse Jackson and Rick Scott?
The George Zimmerman trial, and the verdict, have had an enormous effect on racial division in the United States. Zimmerman was called a racist by some for his apparent stalking of Trayvon Martin, and heralded by others for defending himself according the Florida’s ‘stand your ground law.’
17-year-old Trayvon Martin was symbolic of every young black man in America, and as a less than respectable young man by others. There are beliefs that he was defending himself, and others claim he was the aggressor, causing George Zimmerman to fear for his life.
There were six women on Zimmerman’s jury. Based on Florida law, they found him not guilty. The verdict was not totally unexpected. Only two men knew the details of what happened on that night in a gated community in Florida, and one of them is dead.
Protests immediately began across the United States. But the majority of those demonstrating were not truly questioning the jury’s decision, but were there to create focus on racism in America, and a law that exists in Florida and several other states granting a citizen with a gun the right to provoke another individual, and kill him with that gun if he or she feels threatened.
Jesse Jackson has been out of the limelight for some time. The last public appearance I remember seeing him was at President Obama’s election in 2008. I guess he believes too much time has passed.
Today Jesse Jackson was in the Florida State Capitol in Tallahassee. And he plans to spend the night with protesters there.
Stevie Wonder has already said that he will not perform in the entire state of Florida until the ‘stand your ground’ law is repealed. Legendary Harry Belafonte has added he voice and black right’s organization to the rally. Jesse Jackson may have gone too far.
Rev. Jesse Jackson: “We want the stand your ground laws to end. We want the governor to have a special session. This is an emergency. People are crying out, people are hurting. We need an emergency session of the legislature.”
Governor Rick Scott has refused. Jackson increased his criticism of the governor and his state. He uses labels, calling Florida “the Selma of our time.” Jackson has also referred to Florida as the “Apartheid State.”
Jackson’s use of labels is legendary. They are unfair, and in no way characterize the majority of the residents of the ‘sunshine state.’
But Governor Scott is no better.
Earlier this month the Justice Department filed a lawsuit against the state for actions violating the Americans for Disabilities Act. More than 200 disabled children have been separated from their families needlessly because Florida failed to follow the letter of the law.
And, while the majority of the citizens of Florida are not racist, the governor’s position is questionable.
Governor Rick Scott said, “Jesse Jackson owes every Floridian an apology for his reckless and divisive comments. It is unfortunate that he would come to Florida to insult Floridians and divide our state at a time when we are striving for unity and healing.
Floridians are a strong, resilient people. We are fortunate to live in a great state where all Floridians enjoy opportunities to get a great job and a world-class education.”
Scott has his own set of prejudicial beliefs. He signed a bill in 2011 requiring welfare recipients to pass a drug test.
And his statement about Florida’s educational system is a blatant lie. Many parents in Florida choose to home school their children because of the inadequacies of the system.
“Studies show that people that are on welfare are higher users of drugs than people not on welfare” and “the bottom line is, if they’re not using drugs, it’s not an issue.”
In addition, he has made attempts at redistricting Florida to ensure a Republican advantage in elections.
Jackson is part of America’s past. Although he has valid concerns, and is recognized as an activist for African-Americans dating back to Reverend Martin Luther King, his tactics are ineffectual.
Governor Scott is a southern governor. He has proven himself to lean away from equality and fair play.
My suggestion stands. Let’s put these two in a cage and let them fight it out. May the dirtiest fighter win.
Alfred James reporting