Carl Horowitz

Editor's note: This column is Part I in a II Part series.

Jesse Jackson Jr. is a man who doesn’t like taking ‘no’ for an answer, especially when it comes to badgering corporations to boost their commitment to diversity. That word, ‘diversity,’ as one knows all too well, is Newspeak for forcing companies to give preference to nonwhite minorities in all aspects of operations, especially hiring and promotion. Last month, Silicon Valley, the heart of the nation’s information technology industry, got the full Jackson treatment. And its executives offered no resistance.

Jackson, or Reverend Jackson, as he is known, this past May inflicted himself upon shareholder meetings of eBay, Google and Facebook, where he challenged company leaders to aggressively step up hiring of blacks and other “people of color,” especially for management and executive board positions. Two months earlier he had brought his campaign to Hewlett-Packard shareholders.

This gambit already has yielded results. David Drummond, chief legal officer of Google (who, like Jackson, is black), subsequently released employee demographic data in response to Jackson’s demand to do so. And Google Chairman Eric Schmidt announced plans to favor women and minority candidates for the next executive board opening.

Reverend Jesse Jackson, now 72, more than anyone in this country this side of Al Sharpton, embodies the spirit of intimidation that passes for “civil rights.” Through his Chicago-based nonprofit organization Rainbow/PUSH, Jackson for decades has fused black identity politics, socialist economics and biblically-tinged universalism to promote his idea of social justice. His blend of charisma and menace, rendered in a street preacher’s cadence, has cultivated many followers. Long a dominant player on the Democratic Party Left – he ran for President in 1984 and in 1988 – Jackson’s true métier is the business shakedown. When Jesse speaks, white executives listen. For they know he will try to make life rough for them if they don’t “cooperate.”

Carl Horowitz

Carl F. Horowitz is director of the Organized Labor Accountability Project of the National Legal and Policy Center, a Gold Partner organization dedicated to promoting ethics in American public life.
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