Insight on the News - Features
Preaching a Gospel Of Self-Reliance
By Kenneth R. Timmerman
Photograph by Greg Whitesell
The Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, a Los Angeles pastor, is challenging blacks to revise their views on the traditional civil-rights movement. In January, Peterson and his allies held the Third Annual National Day of Repudiation of Jesse Jackson outside Operation PUSH headquarters in Los Angeles. Peterson's book, From Rage to Responsibility (Paragon House, $19.95, 132 pp), tells the story of his personal odyssey from angry black youth to father, conservative and role model for young men. Insight senior writer Kenneth R. Timmerman, whose new book Shakedown! Exposing the Real Jesse Jackson (Regnery, $29.95, 512 pp) goes on sale March 4, interviewed Peterson during the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in late January.
Insight: We visited recently at your headquarters in Los Angeles, where your Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND) is based. Tell our readers about BOND's activities.
The Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson: Our primary focus is on the black man in America and our motto is: "Rebuilding the Family by Rebuilding the Man." We are concerned about the black man who is not in the home. We try to get him to wake up, drop his anger, return to God and take control of his life so he can guide his family. His children are suffering because they are missing their father; his wife is angry because he's gone.
We believe that if such men would turn back to God and let God guide them, this would end many problems in the black community. It's all about the family. Our overall message is that the problem is not between blacks and whites. It's good against evil, right against wrong. Personal Bio The Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson: Spreading the family-values message to all who will listen. Currently: Founder and president of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND), whose motto is: "Rebuilding the Family by Rebuilding the Man." Born: May 22, 1949, on a plantation in Midway, Ala. Education: Graduated Rebecca Comer Vocational High School, Midway, Ala., 1968. Attended Los Angeles City College. Career highlights: Converted from Democrat to Republican in 1990. Radio talk-show host on KTYM in Inglewood, Calif.; board member of the Christian Coalition of California; hosted First "National Day of Repudiation of Jesse Jackson" on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday, Jan. 17, 1999; speaker at Conservative Political Action Conference on "Welfare Reform and Faith-Based Initiatives" (February 2000). Books: Seven Guaranteed Steps to Spiritual and Financial Success (1998) and From Rage to Responsibility (2000).
The Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson: Spreading the family-values message to all who will listen.
Currently: Founder and president of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND), whose motto is: "Rebuilding the Family by Rebuilding the Man."
Born: May 22, 1949, on a plantation in Midway, Ala.
Education: Graduated Rebecca Comer Vocational High School, Midway, Ala., 1968. Attended Los Angeles City College.
Career highlights: Converted from Democrat to Republican in 1990. Radio talk-show host on KTYM in Inglewood, Calif.; board member of the Christian Coalition of California; hosted First "National Day of Repudiation of Jesse Jackson" on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday, Jan. 17, 1999; speaker at Conservative Political Action Conference on "Welfare Reform and Faith-Based Initiatives" (February 2000).
Books: Seven Guaranteed Steps to Spiritual and Financial Success (1998) and From Rage to Responsibility (2000).
Insight: You recently published a book, From Rage to Responsibility, which would be considered inflammatory had it been written by a white man, in which you talk about "a code of silence in the black community about black racism." What do you mean by that?
JLP: There's this notion that only white people can be racist, but this is not true. When blacks are told they can't be racists because they are oppressed and don't own anything it's just another way of brainwashing and controlling Americans who are black. A lot of this has been taught, generation after generation, by black preachers and civil-rights leaders who want to make blacks angry. As a result of this anger, based on a contrived and false politics of envy, most blacks are racist toward white Americans and don't trust them.
We try to get white Americans to start speaking up, too, because a lot of them have allowed themselves to be intimidated by the civil-rights leaders and liberals who manipulate the word "racism." If you think there are better alternatives than affirmative action, welfare or reparations [for slavery] they call you a racist. Some whites are so intimidated by this that they cow down. And when you cow down to evil, it will destroy you.
Insight: In your book you claim that there is a race industry that instills antiwhite attitudes among blacks.
JLP: Yes, they want to control us. First, they want political power and know that black Americans are going to vote for so-called black representatives ó especially if they are liberal Democrats. So they take hold and maintain control of voting power in the black community.
They believe that we belong to them, that they own blacks. They maintain that ownership through government programs, welfare, affirmative action and social programs. These programs give blacks a sense of kinship with liberal whites. It makes them think the Democratic Party is doing something good for them without realizing that Democrats are using the government programs to get votes and maintain power.
For generations the liberals have told blacks that the Republicans are not on your side, that they want to take away your jobs, take away your safety-net programs and put you back in slavery. A lot of blacks have never examined the Republican Party to see if what they've been told is true.
Insight: You held your Third Annual National Day of Repudiation of Jesse Jackson in January. What prompted you to launch such a movement?
JLP: We believe it is not racism that is holding blacks back but the undermining of moral character which resulted from taking the father out of the home.
This was encouraged by the welfare-advocacy schemes pushed by so-called civil-rights leaders ó including Jackson, [Rep.] Maxine Waters [D-Calif.] and the Congressional Black Caucus.
So every year on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday in January we protest in front of the Rainbow PUSH office in L.A. We bring in speakers and information about Jackson and the so-called civil-rights leaders, to show people of character the difference between Dr. King's dream and Jackson's nightmare.
Insight: You recently filed a lawsuit against Jackson after a meeting with officials from Toyota, where Jackson and one of his sons physically assaulted you. What happened?
JLP: On Dec. 10 we attended a meeting that was sponsored by the Rainbow PUSH Trade Bureau in Los Angeles at which a Toyota vice president, Irv Miller, was invited to speak. Toyota is going to be spending $700 million in the inner cities starting this year, and we were hoping to make contact with Toyota. There were about 200 people at the meeting.
When Jackson got up to speak, he talked about his trade bureau, clearly implying that if you want to receive any benefits from Toyota you needed to join and that it would cost you somewhere between $250 and $2,500 a year, depending on how much you made.
After Miller made his presentation, I got up during the question period and told him about my organization, BOND. I told him we have a home for boys that are coming out of juvenile detention centers and that I wanted to have a direct contact with him because we are a conservative organization and don't trust Jackson as a gatekeeper.
When I said that, all hell broke loose. People were yelling and screaming and calling me names. One man started screaming at me to sit down. From across the room Greg Mathis ó that's Judge Mathis of the daytime TV show ó shouted out that I'd been watching too much of The O'Reilly Factor. At this point Jonathan Jackson comes over and tries physically to intimidate me. His father goes to the podium and says that black conservatives are parasites who come out whenever he shakes the tree.
When the meeting finally ended Jonathan Jackson came back from across the room and shoved me. His father comes over, and I found myself encircled by a crowd of people, yelling and screaming. Jackson said to them, "Get his ass out of here." They were cursing at me, punching and inciting people, saying they are going to kick my ass. Jonathan Jackson attempted to physically assault me again, but someone who knew him stood in front of him in an attempt to hold him back, so he started making sexual comments at me.
I have to tell you two things that were running through my mind. First, when they were screaming at me, it reminded me of a Ku Klux Klan meeting. Instead of it being whites in sheets it was blacks in suits, but the hostility was the same and maybe even worse. When they had me encircled, I had a flashback of when I was growing up in Alabama and we integrated the all-white schools.
Insight: Why haven't more black leaders challenged Jackson in the past?
JLP: A lot of so-called black leaders are truly racists in their hearts. When they see Jackson attacking white Americans, blaming white Americans, intimidating corporate America to get what they want, in their minds it is payback. The other reason many of these so-called black leaders tolerate Jackson is that they are immoral themselves. They don't say anything to him because they are guilty of the same sins.
Insight: Clearly you have made enemies of some powerful black leaders. But how has the liberal white establishment responded to your efforts?
JLP: The white liberal establishment hates me the same, especially when we deal with issues like homosexuality, abortion and racism.
They don't like that because they know that if black Americans would wake up and realize how they are being used by liberals they would be out of work. It's difficult for the liberal press to promote black conservatives because they still want only their own message to be sent. That one message is that liberal Democrats love you, white Republicans hate you.
The liberal press wants to give the impression that all black people are united and that we all agree with Jackson and the NAACP [National Association for the Advancement of Colored People]. Their image of the black community is that all blacks hate whites and all blacks want welfare and immorality. Well, it's just not true.
Kenneth R.Timmerman is a senior writer for Insight.