Memo To: Gregory Muhammad
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Thanks, I needed that
What a nice surprise, Gregory. Your kind words about me on your Milwaukee website about my defense of Minister Farrakhan came at exactly the right time. When I take on the project of defending a person whom I believe is being unjustly maligned or demonized, it is always my father’s voice telling me it is something I must do, because nobody else wants to bother. He named me Jude after St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes or hopeless cases, and he provided the role model for me when I was growing up in Brooklyn in the 1940s. We were Catholics living in Boro Park, a Jewish neighborhood then and now, and he taught me to stand up against injustice to Jews. I’ve told the story before about how he took me to the rectory of our church after a Sunday mass, where the pastor railed against Jews, the “Christ-killers,” and told the old Irish priest in no uncertain terms that if it occurred again, he would take his family to another church. I was no more than 10 or 11 and I remember how shocked I was to see him sternly lecturing the priest, who seemed stunned and speechless. My father also taught me to respect Negroes, at a time when they seemed to have no respect. He did so in the most effective way he could do so with a small boy, telling me that a black man had saved his life when he was working in the Pennsylvania coal mines at age 13, in 1915. So I do what I do, Gregory, because of him.
Why did your generous posting at your website come at just the right time? I’d called a man I’ve known casually for a long time, a conservative columnist who is a devout Christian, to enlist him in a project to fix our money by linking it to gold again -- doing so in order to help elevate all standards of human behavior at home and around the world. I mentioned a number of religious leaders in our country who are sympathetic to the idea and then mentioned Min. Farrakhan. That was the end of the discussion. He would have nothing to do with me if I was “fronting for Louis Farrakhan.” I thought I could get him to hear me out, but he said nothing could change his mind. He gave me his e-mail address when I said I would send him the unpublished interview of Farrakhan you posted on your website, but after I did, he e-mailed me back indicating he had no intention of reading it and that he wanted our communication to end. I was totally unprepared for such a wholesale rejection of my hope for reconciliation with a very Christian man.
If that were not bad enough, here was Senator Joseph Lieberman, Vice President Gore’s running mate, on Meet the Press Sunday, berated by Tim Russert for having said he would be willing to meet with Farrakhan and that he “respected him.” To have Russert, a fellow Catholic, rake over the coals a Jew who is open to reconciliation, reminded me of that priest my father confronted some 55 years ago. Lieberman was great, Gregory, even to the point of saying after the election he would be willing to meet with Farrakhan without preconditions. What depressed me was Russert, showing an old film clip from 1995, out of context, to goad Lieberman, and to show again Farrakhan’s comments about political Jews “controlling” black artists and athletes by warning them against their contacts with Farrakhan.
To top it off, Gregory, I then heard The Washington Post on Sunday blasted Lieberman for being willing to meet with Farrakhan, even though this was a man who in 1984, the Post claims, said “Judaism is a gutter religion.” I’ve spent two years trying to get the major media to admit he never said any such thing and to stop saying he did, but it won’t go away. My conservative Christian friend, the columnist, told me that he wanted nothing to do with a man who has such a difficult time explaining his statements. When I told him that Jesus of Nazareth would take the trouble, he told me not to lecture him on his faith. It was at this point where I wondered, Sunday morning, if there was any hope for a reconciliation between Muslims and Jews in the Middle East. When even this relatively small difficulty between an American black Muslim and the Jewish political community can not be approached, let alone be discussed, you can imagine my frustration and depression. Then came your e-mail to look at your website. You brought me back to life, Gregory Muhammad, and I am grateful for your support.