Jesse Jackson went on an angry tirade at Furman University in South Carolina on Wednesday night, inveighing against America and conservatives as perpetrators of evil and hate. Invited to speak at “Keeping Hope Alive: Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement,” an official university event where he was hailed as a champion for social justice and a “global peacemaker,” Jackson spent over an hour riling up the crowd with his remarks.
In a student recording of the event obtained by National Review Online from Campus Reform, the pastor and former Democratic presidential candidate repeatedly called the United States “the land of the free and home of genocide,” in reference to historical treatment of American Indians. His rant about that history included such seemingly disjointed comments as, “You got paid for the scalps of the red skins of the Indians . . . and that’s how we got the Washington Redskins football league.”
“We are, at our foundation, born in sin and shaped in iniquity,” Jackson said of Americans.
Turning his sights to political conservatives, Jackson told the audience that the tea-party movement was born from efforts to preserve slavery and that Republicans Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan were proponents of segregation.
“Those in the Confederacy sought to maintain the walls [of slavery] and secede from the country, the shots fired at Fort Sumter – the beginning of the Tea Party, the ‘Fort Sumter’ Tea Party, who sought to secede from the Union, set their own government, their own currency, sought to ally with France and Britain, to form their own country,” Jackson said, as audience members laughed.
As Jackson became more animated, at times shouting, some students began yelling “preach it, preach it!”
“Goldwater and Reagan – had they been successful,” Jackson said, “it would have been illegal for blacks and whites to play together on a Saturday afternoon. You couldn’t have had the Carolina Panthers behind the cotton curtain playing the Atlanta Falcons . . . it would have been illegal for them to even sit together.”
Before the event, a group of student protesters stood outside to pass out literature detailing Jackson’s controversial past. The literature was confiscated and, according to student reports, administrators told the protesters to leave. The students declined, saying their actions were protected by the First Amendment.
“It’s a shame that Furman decided to celebrate such a historical event with such a divisive individual such as Reverend Jackson. He’s been stirring up division for years through outlandish anti-Semitic, anti-white, and anti-conservative statements,” Lauren Cooley, a Furman student and protest organizer, said in a statement the student dissenters released. “It’s an even greater shame that Furman University officials attempted to stifle students’ free speech when they constantly preach about civil discourse, the marketplace of ideas, and a well-rounded liberal-arts education.”