Jesse Spins Paula on CNN

April 18th, 2006 12:13 AM

As of this moment all we know for sure is that a state grand jury has issued sealed indictments against two Duke University lacrosse players in a case of ALLEGED rape. Are these two really guilty? That remains to be seen. But Jesse Jackson, appearing with Paula Zahn on CNN, has already set the racial fires burning with hot-button talk of “plantation” and “slavery” and “fantasies” of white men having their way with black women.

Jesse obviously waits by the phone for the next CAUSE to divide America. This time, the call came from Duke University and here he is, front page again.

It’s too bad that Paula failed to remind Jesse that “fantasies” work both ways. Plenty of prime time African American athletes somehow walk off with the sharpest blonde on campus. Is that a problem? No, as long as we remember that we’re all in this together and that race is a problem only when we (or some people) make it a problem.

For Jesse, the verdict is already in, and not only for these two players, but for all America.

This lacrosse uproar, if it needs to be aired before all the facts are in (already a mistake), deserves calm reflection, or at least someone to refute wild (and premature) allegations. Sadly, Paula Zahn was not up to the task on her program. Monday, April 17, and even more pathetic, this is what passes for journalism along our MSM.

What journalists could we be talking about when we have one celebrity interviewing another celebrity? (This is here, and it keeps coming – as in Katie Couric.)

When it comes to race (tempers still so easily touched off), we need interviewers with guts and not someone more suitable for Entertainment Tonight. Paula Zahn is likeable and sometimes more than just a pretty face (at times she can be brave), but here she was outmatched by a knockout pro who found a light-jabbing patsy.

We -- who were caught listening to this exchange between host Paula Zahn and guest Jesse Jackson – hoped for measure for measure, but in vain. This would have been the moment, Paula’s moment, to bring up the Al Sharpton/Tawana Brawley caper (gleaned from Internet sources such as Wikipedia), in which Sharpton (abetted by others) not only agreed that Brawley had been raped by six white men, but went ahead to point the finger at prosecutor Steven Pagones.

In the end, a grand jury found Brawley’s charges to be baseless, indeed a hoax; Pagones later won a defamation suit against Sharpton, though Pagones’ reputation was forever ruined, and as for Sharpton, that’s his story and he’s sticking to it – and, indeed, his reputation is quite intact, quite the celebrity.

Can this be Tawana Brawley all over again? Another hoax? Maybe -- maybe not. Maybe those two lacrosse players really are guilty, and if so, they should rot in jail, and not for abusing a black woman, but for abusing a woman, any woman, period. This is not – or should not be – about race. If they are found not guilty, well then, we still lose for allowing race mongers to keep us on edge.

Some people play this game not for the benefit of truth but for ambition and self-promotion.

True, bigotry still exists in this country. Bigots will always be among us. But we are not a bigoted nation. This nation ABOLISHED slavery (a good point Paula, next time) and this nation passed two major Civil Rights Acts, one in 1964, another in 1965, and this nation adored Michael Jordan above all other athletes and worships Oprah Winfrey above all other notable women.

(If it’s no holiday for Barry Bonds, it’s been no picnic for Pete Rose, either.)

Today’s New York Post carries an editorial insisting that a new stadium for the Mets be named for Jackie Robinson. Robinson was a hero (to all!) because he trafficked not in hatred but in “majestic dignity.” Robinson brought us together (in my opinion, even more than Martin Luther King, Jr.) and taught us and even shamed us into accepting black as equal to white.

Yes, one nation on the baseball diamond and one nation under God.

We’ve come a long way, and still have a ways to go, but that’s what makes this nation extraordinary. We keep making mistakes, because we are human, but, as no other people, we keep correcting these mistakes. We’re working at our problems but instead of Jackie Robinson’s “majestic dignity” we hear different voices with hardly anyone who can find the wisdom or gather the courage to shut them up.