Memo To: Seth Lipsky, publisher, The Forward
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: The Nation of Islam
In my website's TalkShop, as you know, we've had running discussions of the black/white racial divide, the tensions between blacks and Jews, and the pros and cons of Minister Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. I thought you might get something out of an entry that came in from Charles Thorpe on May 8. I don't know Thorpe, although he has been contributing to our discussions recently. He's a black man who has been attracted to Farrakhan and the NOI. The entry followed my criticism of some commentators on my website for blabbing the same old stuff, without doing any legwork or research on their own. The last line of his memo is especially appropriate to your newspaper, at 100 years, the oldest Jewish newspaper in the country. I've had this in my file for two months and think it is a good time to hit you with it. I'm not necessarily vouching for its authenticity, although I think it is. That's not the point. It's simply a report of someone who had to check out Farrakhan himself and did so.
From: Charles Thorpe Date: 5/8/98
To Jude, Cedric, Mike, Scott and all concerned: I would like to offer a little of what I have come to learn on the subject of Min. Louis Farrakhan and how this battle between him and certain Jewish organizations and the media had its origin.
I can remember following the Presidential campaign of the Rev. Jesse Jackson back in '83-'84, when the unfortunate "Hymietown" remark was reported in the media. Jesse Jackson, by the way has apologized ad-nauseum for this remark. However, even prior to this remark, certain Jewish groups were raising placard signs which read "Ruin Jesse Ruin," instead of the oft-repeated chant of "Run Jesse Run." Most of this vehement opposition to Rev. Jackson and his candidacy emerged because of his foreign policy stance on Israel and Palestine. He met with Yasir Arafat in 1979 and believed in having a more balanced policy toward the Palestinian cause. Of course this drew the ire of many Jewish organizations and to some was politically unacceptable, much less political suicide.
Enter Louis Farrakhan who I believe has enjoyed a 30 year or more friendship with Jackson. He traveled with Jackson overseas in either '79 or the early '80's (I forget the exact year) to offer his diplomatic connections in Syria when Jackson spearheaded a release effort of the then captured Lt. Robert Goodman. So naturally, Jackson asked Farrakhan to aid him in his bid. Prior to this venture Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam had little to no involvement in American politics even though his organization had definitely reaped political responses from certain powerful governmental groups i.e. (see documents on the Counterintelligence Program of the FBI). Also they had no involvement with the dominant Jewish community.
However, when the newspapers begin to constantly beat up on Rev. Jackson, urged on by the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith, other radical Jewish groups, such as the Jewish Defense League began to threaten Jackson's life. Jackson's Los Angeles campaign headquarters was firebombed. The JDL said they were going to march on Jackson's house. Min. Farrakhan at that time believed Rev. Jackson was on a mission from God to awaken the dispossessed masses into new realms of hope and consciousness. He believed his candidacy was to speak for the poor and voiceless. So when these groups purported to attack Rev. Jackson's home and family, Min. Farrakhan placed the Fruit of Islam (the Nation's paramilitary guard) around them for protection. In speeches the Min. was making around that time he appealed to members of the Jewish community to try and reason with their anger over Rev. Jackson because he believed that Jackson was the last chance for Black people to advance in a major way. He said that Black people have let all their leaders that stood for them, be cut down, such as Martin, Medgar, and Malcolm, and that blacks would not allow this leader to go the way of the others. He then admonished members of the Jewish community that if they harmed this brother (Rev. Jackson) it would be the last one they would harm and that God's wrath would some down upon them for killing a man He (God) raised up.
The next day it was carried in major newspapers that certain Jewish leaders likened Farrakhan to a "Black Hitler" because they said he threatened to kill Jews. This is double-speak, an outright lie, and is how he controversy began. I'm sure Jewish leaders didn't calculate the response they would get, but they soon found out that this was one Hack leader who would not run from the fight. He took umbrage at the remark and said that "the only comparison with Hitler that you can lake with me is that Hitler rose Germany up out of the ashes, I'm trying to rise Black people up out of the ashes, but don't compare me with your wicked killers." " Hitler was wickedly great." That was 1984. hat's the origin of the "Hitler is Great" tag or the "Farrakhan pal raises Hitler" headline. From that date to the present the verbal debate is continued. Although members of the Jewish community initiated the ay, even with the unfortunate comments made on both sides, Farrakhan has continually been willing to sit down and dialogue to put an end to the feud.
Enter Jude Wanniski. He seems sincerely interested in getting to know a man who many in the Black community would deem their leader, even though they may be of a different religion. Most leaders in the international community recognize Farrakhan as a Head of State, as evidenced on his recent World Friendship Tours. It's not hard to see the importance of this man and his impact in any political policy movement that affects the Black community - and you could add to that Latino, Arab, Indian, Asian, and White because I've read of his work with each community on a variety of issues. Really it doesn't take a lot of time, reading or research to find out and follow the history of the Nation of Islam, but it does require an objectivity, patience, and sincerity. I believe Jude has taken the time to do this and has come to the conclusion that this is a good man who, should not be overlooked by White America. Breathing life into the Black community is what Farrakhan says he is doing and with the message of unity he has inspired his people to clean up their lives and unite to do a positive work for their community which is dying of internal rot, outside neglect and apathy.
Through my cursory study of Nation of Islam speeches, newspapers, and even outside publications I have also come to see the value of Louis Farrakhan to our nation and believe the Black community is most in need of this type of courageous leadership. Representation like his is actually needed for every community and I truly believe that he has evolved into such a dynamic spokesman for the oppressed because of his ability to transform people like Cedric Muhammad into what he is becoming. He, along with the rest of the TalkShop students, are critical thinkers who will hopefully one day effect public policy and political decisions. I applaud Jude's defense of a man he sincerely believes is good for our country. I applaud Mike's defense of his ideas and beliefs. I applaud Cedric's position that we should move on from bickering, study what we need, come up with programmatic ideas that aim to solve the problems heretofore discussed.
I do believe, however, that Louis Farrakhan is the glue to his community and has to eventually be understood properly. Jude has definitely opened many in the white community and political spectrum to the relevance of Min. Farrakhan juxtaposed to the electorate. He also has linked understanding of economic principles necessary to influence public policy, where the Black community is concerned. This is very courageous, given Min. Farrakhan and his public image. Mike has formulated an issue -oriented agenda, which should be thoroughly studied. Cedric is attempting to synthesize what he has learned as a student of Min. Farrakhan and Jude, plus the ideas given on TalkShop by people such as Mike. I sincerely believe he is trying to come up with policy issues that will aid in the upliftment of his people and all those suffering at the bottom of the socio-economic ladder. To all of these efforts I am in agreement with and wish to add my voice to such positive work. Hope this wasn't too long, but I wanted everyone to know it's really not difficult to find out information if you give it a good try.