Carl Horowitz

As Jackson sees it, a company has a choice: 1) expand hiring, marketing and other activities in ways that favor nonwhites; or 2) get ready for a boycott, picketing, a lawsuit or other bad publicity. Typically, his targets fold like a cheap suit, agreeing to increase their minority hiring and outreach. In addition, they make sizable donations to Rainbow/PUSH (thus facilitating future shakedowns) and/or set aside a certain portion of their contracting to minority-owned firms that pay Jackson for referrals. To the corporations, it’s just a small cost of doing business. In reality, however, the cost is anything but small. For in donating to Jackson, they are providing the infrastructure for a perpetual shakedown campaign.

Jesse Jackson’s style can be called affirmative action with a clenched fist. And because of the timorousness of white executives, ever afraid of being called “racist,” that style gets results. Toyota, Nike and Anheuser-Busch are just a few companies that have felt Reverend Jackson’s wrath. And the settlements can be anything but trifling. Back in 2001, for example, Toyota, fearing a Jackson-led boycott, “agreed” to spend $7.8 billion over the next decade to promote “diversity” among board members, employees, suppliers and customers.

By this year, however, Jackson seemed to have gotten rusty. It had been a long while since his brand of brinksmanship had delivered results like these. And unlike Al Sharpton, he isn’t tight with President Barack Obama. So he had to get creative. Fortunately, for him, he knew where to go. It was a long string of affluent communities along and near San Francisco Bay with lots of money and accommodating white people.

Silicon Valley, here we come.

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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