To: Jack Kemp

From: Jude Wanniski

Re: What Louis Farrakhan Really Said

Now that it’s absolutely clear George W. will be the GOP nominee, I
think you should have a talk with him about Louis Farrakhan of the
Nation of Islam. You know better than almost anyone in politics that
Minister Farrakhan has been unjustly vilified and demonized as
anti-Semitic and even anti-Catholic, that while he has publicly taken
issue with some of the political positions favored by the Jewish
political establishment, he has never said a word against Judaism — or
Catholicism. Governor Bush last month said that as president he would
include the Nation of Islam in his considerations for federal contracts
as a “faith-based organization.” He told Fox News Sunday on Jan. 30: “I
believe that the folks — the Muslims who accept, you know, love your
neighbor like you’d like to be loved yourself, and whose hearts are set
right to help a neighbor in need.” Nobody paid any attention to this
until Fox replayed it after John McCain won the Michigan primary on Feb.
22. Remember, Jack, that when Bush spoke at Bob Jones University, McCain
not only blasted Christian Coalition leader Pat Robertson and Jerry
Falwell as “agents of intolerance,” he equated them with “Louis
Farrakhan and Al Sharpton,” all four being men of the cloth.

The first critical mention I saw of Bush’s early positive comment
about the NOI was in the Feb. 24 New York Times Metro column by Joyce
Purnick, a journalist for whom I have great respect. She noted that
Farrakhan had called “Judaism a gutter religion” and called the Pope the
“antichrist.” I was surprised because while I had seen the New York
tabloids make this error repeatedly, I’d not seen the Times get into the
act. In the days that followed, many journalists made the same
attribution, including Martha Irvine of the Associated Press, Ralph
Hallow of the Washington Times, and Don Feder, a syndicated columnist.
In each instance, they repeated the assertion that Farrakhan had said
“Judaism is a gutter religion.” With Bush scrambling to turn the
Catholic vote against McCain after the Michigan primary, he decided to
blast away at Farrakhan in a March 1 speech in Los Angeles: “Louis
Farrakhan preaches hate. … Louis Farrakhan is a hateful person” who
preaches an “anti-Semitic message.”

What happened, Jack, was that Bush made the same “mistake” you made
in September 1996, when you told a Harlem audience that you wished you
had been invited to address the Million Man March in October 1995 — and
the roof came down on your head. I think you should bring this up with
Bush and give him a clear picture of what has been going on. I’ve been
trying to straighten out the press corps on the incorrect quotes, but
the NOI has been trying to correct those errors since 1984, and they are
still made by respected journalists. You may recall the several weeks it
took for me to get former NYC Mayor Ed Koch to acknowledge he had been
in error when he wrote that Farrakhan had called the Pope the
“antichrist.” It was actually Khalid Muhammad who did so in a 1964 Phil
Donohue Show — one of the reasons Khalid was dismissed from his
ministry at the NOI. In other words, Farrakhan is still getting blamed
for a hate message that he had condemned. When I first asked Farrakhan
about the quote, he told me he was specifically taught by his mentor,
Elijah Muhammad, to never say a word against the Pope. Quite the
opposite, over the years Farrakhan has repeatedly and publicly praised
Pope John Paul II for his good works on behalf of reconciliation among
the world’s nations and religions.

The “Judaism is a gutter religion” comment is carved in stone, as far
as journalists and politicians are concerned. Governor Bush would be
surprised to learn that the quote of June 24, 1984, when Farrakhan
returned from a trip to Libya, never mentioned “Judaism” at all and did
not use the word “gutter.” He used the term “dirty religion” as he had
in other speeches regarding Christians and Muslims who commit injustices
behind the shield of their religion, thus making it dirty. This is from
the website of the NOI’s newspaper, Final Call: “Minister Farrakhan
regularly teaches that ‘Muslim sheiks who live in opulence [from the
riches of oil] when their people live in squalor are practicing a dirty
religion.’ Christians that give the poor a Bible and then exploit their
faith and take their natural resources in the name of God, have dirtied
that religion. Television evangelists who thrive off of the faith of the
gullible and ignorant, have dirtied the religion.”

The exact 1984 quote was this: “… America and England and the
nations backed Israel’s existence. Therefore, when you aid and abet
someone in a criminal conspiracy, you are a part of that criminal
conspiracy. So America and England and the nations are criminals in the
sight of Almighty God. Now, that nation of Israel never has had any
peace in forty years, and she will never have any peace because there
can never be any peace structured on injustice, thievery, lying and
deceit and using the name of God to shield your dirty religion under His
holy and righteous name.”

Is Farrakhan saying there should be no state of Israel? No, Jack, he
is not a Zionist, but has repeatedly said that only the injustice toward
the Palestinians need be removed, with a Palestinian state living
side-by-side with Israel. You are aware, Jack, that Farrakhan has
recently struck up an association with a group of fundamentalist rabbis
from Brooklyn who are not Zionists. The Anti-Defamation League, which
has led the charge against the Nation of Islam over the last 16 years,
has actually criticized Farrakhan for meeting with these rabbis as if he
can only be considered “pro-Semitic” if he is accepted by the right kind
of Jews.

The reason you are the man who should take responsibility to discuss
this with George W. Bush, Jack, is that the same thing happened to you
in 1996, when you were on the GOP ticket as Bob Dole’s running mate and
had the roof fall in on you when you said some nice things about the
Million Man March. It was because of you, after all, that I began to
look into these issues and discover the great injustices being done to
Minister Farrakhan. You know how I’ve introduced several of our mutual
Jewish friends to Farrakhan and how they uniformly agree he is not what
the media says he is. Like you, they are still afraid to have their
names used to vouch for him, because the price to be paid for breaking
ranks is so high. Joyce Purnick of the Times told me she is doing some
research now into this issue, after I raised the issue of her “gutter
religion” quote, but individual journalists can’t bear this burden.
Their careers would end if they would take up a defense of Farrakhan.
Heck, in 1998, when Tim Russert had Min. Farrakhan on Meet the Press,
the Anti-Defamation League took out a full page ad in the New York Times
blasting Russert and NBC.

If you would have the courage to open this discussion publicly, Jack,
the press corps would be able to come in as a corps, to set the record
straight. There would be a lot of yelling back and forth, but in the
end, truth would be served … and it would be healthy for the country
to go through the experience.

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