Jesse Jackson Demands ‘Diversity’ from Silicon Valley (Part I)

Carl Horowitz

6/7/2014 12:31:00 PM - 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.”

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.