African-American conservative activist Jesse Lee Peterson has become a darling of the Tea Party, most recently serving as a featured speaker at an anti-immigrant rally in DC last month. Peterson offers up far-right commentary on issues from gay marriage to immigration, but his specialty is insisting to mostly-white crowds that racism against people of color no longer exists and that African Americans in general, and President Obama in particular, are the real racists.
In a long interview with the Los Angeles Times today, Peterson goes into detail about what he sees as the scourge of “black racism,” kicking off the conversation by insisting “most black Americans are suffering not because of racism but lack of moral character” and going from there.
The problem with the Civil Rights Act of 1965, Peterson tells the Times, is that it didn’t “protect white folks” against “black racism”: “If they had just changed it so the same laws that protected white folks would protect black people and left us alone, things would be much better today.”
“Not all but most black people are so racist toward white people,” he added.
Asked about racist attacks on President Obama – like images of the president growing watermelons on the White House lawn — Peterson replied, “If they're just doing it to have some fun, I don't see anything wrong with it….It's known that — not all — but black people love watermelons. It's not a put-down. “
Growing up you worked the same land where your ancestors were once enslaved. Didn't you experience racism there?
I did — colored-only signs, white-only signs. In the movie theater, blacks had to sit in the balcony. I was fine with that because we had a better view! I saw they were wrong, but we were taught not to hate. And we knew white people who weren't doing those things.
Now, not all but most black people are so racist toward white people. And white Americans are afraid if they say the wrong thing, they'll be accused of being racist.
The founding documents of this country didn't consider you or me to be fully legal beings.
At one point there was definitely racism from white America, but that started to change over the last 40 or 50 years. White people realized, yeah, this did exist, we're sorry, we're going to [institute] stuff to help blacks get themselves together. They passed laws against white racism, but the problem is they have not had an honest dialogue about black racism.
Wasn't the Civil Rights Act the right thing to do?
If they had just changed it so the same laws that protected white folks would protect black people and left us alone, things would be much better today. Change the law, then get out of the way of people coming together.
What do you think of President Obama?
I think he's the worst thing to ever happen to this country. He doesn't care about black people. He's selling them out for Hispanic votes. He cares more about homosexuals than he does about blacks. In healthcare and education — illegals have overpopulated public schools in South Central, and blacks are feeling pushed aside. They voted for Obama thinking he would be for them, and he's not.
The Internet is full of stuff about Obama growing watermelons on the White House lawn, or Michelle Obama posing for National Geographic. Isn't that racist?
It depends on the heart of the person doing it. If they're just doing it to have some fun, I don't see anything wrong with it. They did the same thing to Bush.
They didn't make fun of him because of his race.
They aren't making fun of Barack for being black either. It's known that — not all — but black people love watermelons. It's not a put-down. [Although] I'm sure you can find racists like the KKK who hate black people and will use something like that.
Elsewhere in the interview, Peterson addresses marriage equality (“Homosexuality is not about love or family or civil rights; it's about sex”) and his efforts at reparative therapy (“If they were to forgive their parents, then God will forgive them and remove that identity from them and they will be free”).
You endorse marriage. Gays have fought for marriage.
Same-sex marriage doesn't exist; there's no such thing in God's eyes. So-called same-sex marriage would destabilize society. Homosexuality is not about love or family or civil rights; it's about sex.
What do you say to gay people you counsel?
I tell them they were not born that way, that a spirit has made a home inside of them that came from some sort of trauma — maybe they were molested at an early age or had angry parents — and that if they were to forgive their parents, then God will forgive them and remove that identity from them and they will be free.