Using “Race as a Wedge Issue” By Using Race as a Wedge Issue

You just know that when Jesse Lee Peterson of the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny (BOND) releases a statement, it is going to be something ridiculous … and once again he doesn’t disappoint:

According to BOND ACTION, Inc, Founder and President, Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, the Obama campaign and its surrogates have knowingly used race as a wedge issue to scare black voters and mischaracterize Republican positions on the issues. Rev. Peterson said today, “If the McCain campaign doesn’t start aggressively combating these false allegations it will cost them the election” … Rev. Peterson said, “Democrats are using the same racially charged scare tactics used by white segregationists in the past to antagonize the races. This is shameless and dangerous, and we have a moral duty to point it out.”

Peterson, a right-wing African American activist, has built an entire career out of calling African American Democrats racists while defending white people who are actually … you know … racist, like Michael Richards:

By not allowing whites to express themselves, it only drives the problem underground and forces people to keep these emotions bottled up — in essence, the politically correct culture is helping to create people like Michael Richards!”

And Duane Chapman:

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson, Founder and President of BOND, the Brotherhood Organization of a New Destiny, issued the following statement today congratulating Duane “Dog” Chapman and his fans on the news that plans are in the works to resume production of the hit show “Dog The Bounty Hunter.” A&E suspended the show on October 31 after a tape of Duane using a racial slur to describe his son’s girlfriend was sold to the Enquirer. Since the incident, Duane Chapman has worked closely with conservative black organizations such as BOND and CORE to reach out to the black community.

The following is Rev. Peterson’s statement about this developing story: “Congratulations to Duane Chapman and his family. Duane is not a racist. We’re happy to learn that A&E is planning to resume production of ‘Dog The Bounty Hunter,’ which should have never been suspended.

Back in 2005, Max Blumenthal wrote a good profile of Peterson that explains the role he plays in the right-wing movement:

In late February, inside a sterile conference hall at Washington’s premier conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation, a crowd of no more than seventy took off their snow-flecked coats and settled in for an afternoon with a group of speakers billed as “The New Black Vanguard.” Perched on a platform above the audience, the speakers promptly launched a barrage of attacks on the civil rights establishment and “the entertainment-industrial complex.” At first the audience seemed disengaged, even a bit overwhelmed by the cacophony of blustery rhetoric. Then the Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson piped up. “W.E.B. Du Bois was a communist, socialist pig,” Peterson crowed. A few of his fellow panelists blanched at his overheated language. But once the shock subsided, laughter rippled through the previously mute crowd, followed by vigorous applause.

It was vintage Peterson. Throughout his fifteen-year career as a right-wing evangelical minister, Peterson has never shied from bombastic assaults on targets ranging from civil rights leaders to liberal Democrats to undocumented immigrants. But while Peterson’s strident style may be unique, with his extremist politics he is merely playing the role of front man for a murky, well-funded network of white nationalist activists and right-wing Beltway operatives. By deploying Peterson to gatherings like the Heritage event and into the media, this coterie of conservatives have been able to apply a bold veneer of blackness over the brand of bigotry they find increasingly inconvenient to espouse on their own. Peterson has no professional or political accomplishments to speak of, beyond directing a small inner-city aid ministry and hosting a radio show syndicated on a handful of AM stations across the country. To his sponsors, though, that’s irrelevant; it is his immunity from charges of racism that matters.