Mr. Abraham Foxman
823 United Nations Plaza
New York, N.Y. 10017
Dear Mr. Foxman:
As our paths are bound to cross again, at least in various editorial pages, I thought it might make sense to make direct contact with you. My intent is simply to advise you that my interest in Louis Farrakhan rests solely on the evidence that he has been chosen by the black community as its most important leader. The 1995 Million Man March persuaded me of that, although the rest of the white political community seemed determined to ignore the fact of his leadership.
It has been my belief for the last several years, long before I came to know Min. Farrakhan, that the widening gulf between black and white America could only be bridged through a political realignment. I'd discussed this with both Democratic and Republican friends in leadership positions, in Washington and in state capitals, black and white, Gentile and Jew. It rests on my observation that black Americans are the only distinct classification of American that has never experienced a simultaneous competition for their political support by the two major parties. They have either been "owned" by the party of Lincoln, with Democrats happy to be lily white. Or, after the Crash of '29 and the Great Depression, the black vote swung to the Democratic Party, and the GOP wrote it off.
It has never been likely that any of the leaders in the Democratic Party would break ranks and lead an exodus to the GOP. The break would have to come from outside of Democratic regulars. There are no black political leaders even remotely close to Farrakhan capable of leading masses of black votes back to the party of Lincoln. My aim, remember, is not black votes for GOP candidates, but the political integration of black Americans into the national social fabric.
Louis Farrakhan is not anti-Semitic, or anti-Catholic or anti-white. He has been anti-ADL because you have been anti-Nation of Islam, and vice versa. His fundamental complaint is that the black population of the nation has been and continues to be treated like junior partners in the political establishment. On that point, I heartily agree. The gulf between us can only be bridged by the same political mechanisms that have worked to assimilate all other classes — racial, ethnic and religious.
Farrakhan essentially told our conference at Boca Raton that he knows he must come to terms with the Jewish community. Christian and secular white America will not be satisfied that the Nation of Islam is no threat to the national family until there is a truce with the Jewish community. I've assumed that the ADL will be the very last to come aboard, as your organization is the most uncompromising watchdog on the lookout for threats to the Jewish community. Still, I think you should know that it is my belief that over time this will be accomplished. This is because I've not only studied Farrakhan from your point of view, but have also studied him from his point of view toward white America.
He freely acknowledges that over the past century, American Jews have been in the front rank of those who have befriended black America. It was appropriate in this period for blacks to assume a junior role in the relationship, he says, because blacks were in fact political children. Now, at the end of the 20th century, it is no longer appropriate for the leadership of the Jewish community to look down upon black leaders in a patronizing father/son relationship. It is time for a man-to-man relationship, he says, which means that he cannot agree to pre-conditions that would appear to his constituency as the bending of his knee. You must surely know by now that the dinner he had in Chicago with senior rabbis involved demands by them that before they could publicly use their influence on behalf of refurbishing his public image, he would have to agree to a list of 10 of their demands. If they had put themselves in his shoes, they would have seen that he would have been viewed as a sell-out by his followers.
When I say man-to-man, you can appreciate that he does represent the black man's point of view in the political realm. That viewpoint sees a patronizing white America taking care of blacks by giving free food, free clothes, free shelter, free health care, instead of jobs that will enable black husbands and fathers to make a wage that can purchase food, clothes, shelter and health care. A whole generation of black men have been wiped out by the good intentions of white folks, with the Jewish community in the forefront of those good intentions.
What does he want out of reconciliation with the Jewish community? He wants a new kind of relationship, knowing only that it must lead to the rehabilitation of the black family. Your father and mine, Mr. Foxman, brought home the daily bread, and I would guess that your mother, like mine, stayed home and tended to it and the children. I had a mother who provided a role model of love and compassion, and a father who provided a role model of work and discipline. This was the central message of the Million Man March, a message only Louis Farrakhan could deliver.
On "Larry King Live" a week or so ago, Yasir Arafat was asked about his true feelings about Jews. He said that to be a good Muslim, you first have to be a good Christian and a good Jew, because Moses, Abraham and Jesus are the primary prophets of the Islamic faith. Farrakhan after the MMM told Larry King that he was a Jew and that if Arafat and Rabin could sit down man-to-man across a river of blood, surely he and Abe Foxman could sit down man-to-man, when there is no river of blood between you and him.
In the many months since, he has been discouraged from time to time, but since I came to know him a bit, and find his intentions honorable, I've urged him to hang in there and not take no for an answer. It will take some time and a lot of effort, but eventually Abe Foxman will not be able to resist a hand held out to begin a process of reconciliation. It would be nice to have it accomplished by the end of this second millennium.
Sincerely, as ever,
cc: Min. Louis Farrakhan, Jack Kemp, Seth Lipsky, Sen. John Ashcroft