Memo To: The New York Times editors
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: My $1000 Reward
Back in 2000, when one of your reporters quoted Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan as having said “Judaism is a gutter religion” and “the Pope is the anti-Christ,” I wrote the reporter directly and pointed out that he said neither. She checked on the “anti-Christ” quote and found that it had actually been said by Khalid Muhammad. Happily, the Times made a correction. When I asked the reporter about the “Judaism” quote, she replied that they could not find it, but knew that he had said it, so there would be no correction. In the two years since, I tried to get the Associated Press to make a correction, but their top editor said they follow the New York Times and would continue to report that Min. Farrakhan said: “Judaism is a gutter religion,” or “dirty religion.” I then offered a $1000 reward to anyone who could find the quote.
Last month, when I was invited to appear on “The O’Reilly Factor” because of my defense of Min. Farrakhan’s trip to the Middle East, I repeated the offer on the air, and Mr. O’Reilly said he would find the quote and claim the $1000 for his favorite charity. I then wrote a memo broadcasting an exchange between me and a noted Jewish intellectual, Joshua Muravchik, in which he claimed the $1000 reward because he found the “gutter religion” quote of 1984. I’d already warned him that the 1984 quote did not include the term “Judaism,” and that it would not qualify. He actually became quite abusive, insisting that everyone knew the official religion of Israel was Judaism and Min. Farrakhan directed his criticism at Israel itself, not Judaism. I suggested that readers look over my exchange and decided whether I should pay the $1000. About 70 readers wrote letters taking sides, 40 in Min Farrakhan’s favor, 30 in Muravchiks. The majority agreeing with Muravchik said they “knew” what Farrakhan meant and he could not wriggle out of it. The most common defense of Min. Farrakhan was that if he had made the disrespectful remark about “Judaism” once, he would have made it in other places and other times, and there was no record advanced by his critics that he had.
Most interesting was the claim of another reader who found that Min. Farrakhan had used the term “synagogue of Satan” and thought this proved he was disrespectful of the Jewish people, who go to synagogues. The quote actually supports the meaning and intent of Min. Farrakhan in distinguishing between those Jews who practice Judaism and those who simply pretend. Here is the quote from the Bible:
'Behold, I will cause those of the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie--I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and make them know that I have loved you.’ Revelation 3.9
The discussion did prompt me to write to Min. Farrakhan and ask if he had any thoughts he would like to contribute, and he responded promptly with this letter, which speaks for itself:
IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE BENEFICENT, THE MERCIFUL.
August 1, 2002
(Peace Be Unto You)
May this letter find you in the best of health and spirit.
Thank you so very much for your correct and sincere defense of the remarks attributed to me from nearly 18 years ago.
To those who read your website: if you knew me you would know that I am a man who will stand up to what I say, because I am unafraid to face the consequences or criticism for remarks if I believe that what I have said is correct.
The problem is my being purposefully misquoted.
I never intended to besmirch or defame the religion of Judaism. As a Muslim, we believe in all of the Prophets of Allah (God) no matter where they have been sent in any part of the earth. We believe in the scriptures which they brought. We respect and honor the Prophets that Allah (God) sent to the Children of Israel and the scriptures that they have received.
After it was said that I condemned Judaism as a gutter and dirty religion, I explained that religion is not what we profess. It is what we practice. Therefore, all of the Prophets demanded that we just not be hearers of the Word, but, doers. Whatever we are, Muslim, Christian, or Jew, the religion that we preach is morally sound and correct, and, can never be called dirty, unclean or gutter. Allah (God) sends us Prophets and scripture to take us out of the gutter and take unclean human beings and purify us by His Word and by our practice of His Word.
When I spoke of Israel, I spoke not of the religion called Judaism, but, of a practice of deceit, lying, thievery, and murder as dirty, unclean and unworthy. It is sad that I have explained this over and over again for these past 18 years, but, no matter what I say, every time my name is mentioned it is said of me, "This is the man who described Judaism as a gutter religion and referred to Hitler as a great man." This is my honest statement, then, and now.
May Allah (God) bless you in your sincere effort to defend the truth of what I said and what I intended. You are correct. I never mentioned Judaism. I mentioned dirty religion that refers to a dirty practice that besmirches and defames religion. I hope that this in someway will satisfy your readers.
I Am Your Brother and Servant in the Cause of Truth and Justice,
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan
Servant to the Lost-Found
Nation of Islam in the West