George Will's disdain for the politics of Jesse Jackson is no secret. But his column "Pretend Senator, Pretend State" {op-ed, July 19} was nothing more than a rambling tirade designed to belittle Jackson while purporting to address the complex issue of D.C. statehood and Jackson's bid for the shadow senatorship.

Granted, Will doesn't have to like the man or agree with his motives, but why does he find it so difficult to accept Jackson's vision of purpose? Jackson has worked most of his adult life (until recently without substantial reward) to put the plights of disadvantaged minorities and working-class poor in the national focus, and with a good deal of success. I must note that he has done so with more sincerity and effectiveness than most newspaper columnists.

Unprovoked harassment and character assassination of African-American political leaders is not new. So it should come as no surprise to Will that even the perception of prejudice and racial bias is enough to spark cries of racism from a necessarily defensive community of black political leaders. With this in mind, Will's characterization of the motives and aspirations of Benjamin Hooks and Jackson -- men who have selflessly devoted their lives to public service -- can only be seen as particularly insensitive.

-- Ronald Fullwood