Dialogue with Mayor Koch
Jude Wanniski
April 30, 1997


Memo To: Website fans, browsers, clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Dialogue with Mayor Koch

Picking up on our website memo of last week, on my exchange with former New York City Mayor Ed Koch on the subject of Louis Farrakhan, I received another missive from Hizzoner on Friday afternoon and immediately responded.

Date: Fri. 25 Apr 1997
From: Ed Koch
To: Jude Wanniski

Dear Mr. Wanniski:

I received your e-mail of April 21st. I want to commend you for your perseverance and stamina. Nevertheless, you have not convinced me, and I know that I have not convinced you.

I would indeed be interested in the context that Minister Farrakhan delivered the many anti-Semitic, anti-Catholic and anti-white statements that he and his authorized surrogates have made without apology or remorse over the years. Some of those remarks are set forth in my New York Post columns of April 4, 1997, and April 18, 1997. I suggest he begin with providing the context for his reference to Judaism as a "gutter religion" and the Pope as "the anti-Christ." When I receive answers from you which I hope you will endeavor to obtain from him, I will be happy to give you other passages for his response as well. I have no interest in entering into a personal dialogue with him.

Our correspondence on this subject has come to an end.

All the best.

Edward I. Koch

April 25, 1997

Memo To: Edward I. Koch
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: No More Dialogue?

I'm happy that you admire my perseverance and stamina, but I'm sorry that you have tired so quickly of this honest effort to bridge the racial divide. I'm also a bit disappointed in you, Mayor. I'd thought because you are retired from elective politics and no longer have to be political, you could at least be open to a serious exchange of views. At the very least, it would give you something to write about in your NYPost column from time to time.

Min. Farrakhan would be happy to reply to your request for explanation about his having discussed Judaism as a "dirty religion" and called the Pope an "anti-Christ." Inasmuch as he does not remember ever doing so, he merely asks that you would provide the citations, at least the time and place where he is alleged to have done so. My guess is that by including the word "surrogates" in your missive, you have been advised that maybe Farrakhan did not say the things attributed to him, but that someone else did. The episodes involving Khalid Muhammad cannot be put on Farrakharis head, I think you would agree, because those clearly anti-Semitic slurs made by Khalid resulted in his punishment, as he was removed from association with the Nation's organization as soon as Min. Farrakhan viewed the tapes and discussed the behavior with what amounts to his Cabinet. Min. Farrakhan told me personally how offensive he found that type of rhetoric and how he would never engage in it himself.

There is considerable anti-Semitism among black intellectuals, I grant you, most especially among certain tenured black professors at the city university. These are not affiliated with the Nation and you should not confuse their remarks with the Nation. Because my livelihood and my political good will is at stake in this project, I have to be very careful in making sure I am not dealing with a racist or a bigot or an anti-Semite. If he were, I would know it, having spent so many hours viewing videotapes and reading transcripts of Farrakhan speeches. The only thing I know he has said about the Pope with which Catholics might take offense is his remark on "Meet the Press" two weeks ago that Pope Pius XXII turned his back on the holocaust, a statement he made having read the recent issue of The New Yorker in which a former Catholic priest made that assertion. There is a debate that will probably never end on the Pius XXII issue, but at least you must agree that if Min. Farrakhan erred, he did so on the side of sympathy with the holocaust victims.

As a Catholic myself, I defended Pius XXII to Min. Farrakhan after his remark, with information he was not aware of. By the way, Min. Farrakhan two Sundays ago gave the sermon at St Sabina's RC Church in Chicago. If you would like to have it, I will send you a videotape as soon as I get one. It is inconceivable to me that he would ever entertain the notion of the Pope being the "anti-Christ." Any comments he has made in his speeches about the shortcomings of the Catholic Church in its relationships with black Americans have been quite accurate. Along with all other white religious institutions, the Church does not have a good record in speaking against slavery or racism or anti-Semitism. It has been much better to both blacks and Jews since Vatican II. To be fair to the Church, its leaders have been human, and there is no white human I can find inside or outside the various churches, including the synagogues, who until very recently did not look at black men as inherently inferior. Jews were among the most aggressive in helping blacks acquire their legal rights under the Constitution, but there is no record of their disagreement with Christians and atheists that black people are at least a little bit intellectually inferior to Caucasians.

The reason I'm working so assiduously at this project, Mayor, is that it strikes me as the most important on Earth. Not to "rehabilitate Farrakhan," but to once and for all put racism in all its forms behind us. It is only because Farrakhan makes us face our own racist tendencies, by speaking out about them, that we finally have an opportunity to turn over the rock and let the light shine in. The one thing I've learned for sure about Farrakhan is that he really means it when he says he has an open mind, and will change it if he gets better information.

You've slammed the door on me, Mayor, but I will leave mine open to you. I was not kidding when I told you how much I admired you for the energy, wisdom and compassion you put into your service to the city. This is why I take the trouble to respond to your observations and will continue to do so if you have a change of heart.