Is NBA star LeBron James a victim of racism? The Rev. Jesse Jackson thinks so.
When James decided to leave his hometown team to play elsewhere, the owner of his former team accused James, among other things, of "cowardly betrayal." He felt jilted, and his team suddenly lost perhaps half its market value. Maybe before commenting the owner should have taken a cold shower.
Jackson, however, sees RACISM: "(The owner's) feelings of betrayal personify a slave master mentality. He sees LeBron as a runaway slave." "Runaway slave"? The owner, Jackson implies, would have reacted differently — had James been white.
These are tough times for Jackson.
In post-Obama-election America, Jackson and Al Sharpton (the Robin to Jackson's Batman) struggle with a declining market share. They are rabble-rousers in search of rabble to rouse, race-card players in need of race cards when anti-black racism has become an inconsequential matter. With their dark view of "race relations" in "White America," they never saw Obama coming. They lacked the awareness to see that America had changed and that Obama's election was possible.
So Jackson's flying on fumes. Consider this:
In Oakland, Calif., a white transit officer shot and killed a black passenger. The officer claims that he shot accidentally, that he intended to reach for his Taser and instead pulled out and fired his gun.
A jury — with no blacks — found the former officer guilty of involuntary manslaughter rather than second-degree murder or voluntary manslaughter. The sentence can range from probation to 14 years with the gun enhancement charge. The minimum for second-degree murder is 15 years. Post-verdict riots in Oakland resulted in the arrests of over 80 people.
Where were Jackson & Sharpton? Neither said much about the case, let alone jetted in to lead a protest. Did they keep quiet because the jury reached a reasonable and certainly defensible verdict? Even the liberal San Francisco Chronicle called the verdict "consistent with the evidence." Did the duo keep quiet because they said nothing when two young black men were arrested for the April fatal beating of Tian Sheng Yu, a 59-year-old immigrant from China who was in downtown Oakland on a shopping trip?
It's hard out there for a "black leader." Imagine a typical morning.
Jackson: What's in the inbox today?
Secretary: Not much, sir. The owner of LeBron James' former team called him selfish and heartless.
Jackson: That's it?
Secretary: Sorry, sir.
Jackson: No police beatings of blacks? No YouTube videos of whites jumping on blacks? No tape of a politician, law enforcement officer or public figure using the N-word?
Secretary: No, sir. It's pretty quiet out there. MSNBC hired another white host.
Jackson: No, they're on our side.
Secretary: Sorry, sir. Well, there's the black ho thing.
Jackson: The what?
Secretary: Hallmark put out a greeting card encouraging graduates to take on the world, even the universe.
Secretary: Well, the computer chip inside the card talks about "black holes."
Jackson: You mean as in black holes in outer space?
Secretary: Yes, sir.
Jackson: So what?
Secretary: Well, a civil rights group called the card racist because "black holes" sounds like "black hos."
Jackson: You're kidding me.
Secretary: No, sir. They got the company to pull the card.
Jackson: What moron said "black holes" in space sounds like "black hos"?
Secretary: The NAACP, sir.
Jackson: Anything else?
Secretary: Remember all those black women murdered in Los Angeles over a period of 25 years?
Secretary: They caught the guy.
Jackson: Fantastic. Is he white?
Secretary: No, sir. Black.
Jackson: Maybe half-white, like Obama?
Secretary: No, sir. Completely black.
Secretary: Sorry, sir.
Jackson: Wait. Did anybody criticize the way South Africa hosted the World Cup?
Secretary: No, sir, people called it well-run and said it enhanced Africa's image. Although — a lot of people complained about those horns.
Jackson: That's no good. I found those suckers annoying, too. I even switched it off a couple of times and watched "Law & Order." And now it's over.
Secretary: The World Cup?
Jackson: No, "Law & Order." It's been canceled. I'm going to miss that show.
Secretary: Me too, sir.
Jackson: Looks like we'll have to run with the LeBron thing. Better get on it before Sharpton does. Maybe I can accuse the owner of having a slave mentality: "You'll go to your grave, thinking LeBron's a slave." Nah. Needs work.
Secretary: Slave, sir? The owner signed LeBron to a sign-and-trade deal for $110,000,000.
Jackson: How much?
Secretary: $110 million, sir. Sir? What's that noise?
Jackson: Sorry, I was practicing my jump shot. OK: "Lincoln's rolling in his grave, 'cuz you called this brother a slave."
Secretary: Better. Sir, Mel Gibson's on line one, and Rev. Sharpton's on line two.
Jackson: I'll take Sharpton. Is he calling about LeBron's owner?
Secretary: No, sir, he wants to know if you can get him season tickets for the Miami Heat.
Jackson: Tell him I'm not in. How about: "For talkin' trash, you can stick your money up..."?
Larry Elder is a syndicated radio talk show host and best-selling author. His latest book, "What's Race Got to Do with It?" is available now. To find out more about Larry Elder, visit his Web page at www.WeveGotACountryToSave.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.