Memo To: Abe Rosenthal, The New York Times
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: World Islamic Conference & Farrakhan
You may have seen or heard a tv or radio report about Minister Louis Farrakhan’s weekend conference in Chicago. If you did, all you heard was that Muammar Qadhafi addressed the conference by satellite and urged Farrakhan to persuade American taxpayers not to finance “a Hebrew state.” The reports also said Farrakhan urged the U.S. to end all economic embargoes, everywhere in the world, which is correct, and has been my position since the end of the Cold War, long before I met Farrakhan.
These news reports, Abe, were extremely misleading. Attending the conference from more than 20 countries of the Middle East, Asia and Africa were Islamic scholars and holy men. The only politician who said anything was Qadhafi, who spoke for 50 minutes, and as far as I can tell made the only comment of the entire four-day conference that could be interpreted as being anti-Semitic. My wife Patricia and I were among the few Christians invited to attend as observers. We attended the plenary sessions and several of the workshops and had dinner with Min. Farrakhan on three of the four nights, as he entertained the global delegates. We heard only talk of reconciliation among Jews, Christians and Muslims.
I’m working on a long report on the conference and will send it to you as soon as it is finished. I do want you to know of one thing he said in his concluding address to the conference on Sunday. He called upon the government of China to invite the world’s religious leaders to Beijing for the purpose of discussing religious worship in China, with the aim of “normalizing the state’s relations with Judaism, Christianity and Islam.”
Abe, you know I’m not a careless reporter. I’ve spent an enormous amount of time in the last two years studying this man Farrakhan, what he has accomplished, and what he aims to accomplish in the future. If you think of him as a political man, you will be led to all the erroneous conclusions about him being a bigot and anti-Semite. He is not a political man. He represents God, not Caesar, which was the theme of his Sunday address. If you would put your reporter’s hat on for awhile, and begin asking questions about what is going on here, you may see as I do that Farrakhan is now emerging as the spiritual leader of the entire Islamic world. From that pinnacle, he will be a positive force, not a negative force. He knows that he could be the key to peace in the Middle East. I’ve spent dozens of hours with him in the last several months. If you had had that same opportunity, you would see as I do that he is a unifying force for all the religious faiths that flow from the law of Abraham.
By the way, Qadhafi’s harangue got only the politest applause from the 3500 in McCormick Center. And then, it was when he praised Farrakhan’s efforts on behalf of the oppressed people of the world, without regard to their race or religion. There is no more talk of jihad from Qadhafi. I’m sure you are aware that the Vatican has established diplomatic relations with Tripoli. Farrakhan’s relations with the leaders of Libya, Iraq, Iran and Syria are central to his efforts to unify the entire Islamic world under one banner, a spiritual banner that is perfectly compatible with the spiritual banners aloft in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Rome. Islam can only be unified around a center of moderation that is based on spiritual principles, not around a fringe of anger and terror that are remnants of the century of war now ending.