Anti-Semitic comments shouldn't be tolerated

January 27, 1994|By WILEY A. HALL

Let me put this as clearly as possible: There is no secret Jewish agenda to take over the world. Jews do not control the U.S. government, the international banking industry and the media. And there is no Jewish conspiracy to manipulate black American leaders, undercut black institutions and oppress black citizens in general.

To believe otherwise is rank bigotry. In fact, such anti-Semitic nonsense does not even merit discussion by reasonable people -- any more than the racist lie that blacks are genetically inferior to whites.

Call my stand "thought control" or "censorship" or another example of "political correctness," if you like. But there is too much ugliness in our society to take such attitudes lightly. Anti-Semitism, like racism, has left too indelible a stain on our culture. Therefore, anti-Semitic notions -- like racial stereotypes -- should be repudiated whenever they appear.

That is why I applaud Baltimore's Rep. Kweisi Mfume and other black leaders for taking strong exception to anti-Semitic sentiments attributed to an aide of Minister Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam.

On Nov. 29, Khalid Abdul Muhammad, in a speech at Kean College in Union, N.J., reportedly said that Jews have systematically preyed upon the black community.

He further said that Jews "have a secret relationship with us," and that they have black entertainers, athletes and politicians "in the palm of their hand."

Sinking even lower, Mr. Muhammad referred to the extermination of six million Jews during World War II; he reportedly said, "But don't nobody ever ask what did they [the Jews] do to Hitler? What did they do to them folks? [The Jews] went in there, in Germany, the way they do everywhere they go, and they supplanted, they usurped . . . they undermined the very fabric of the society."

And Mr. Muhammad scoffed at Jewish support for blacks during the civil rights movement. "What they have actually done, brothers and sisters, is used us as cannon fodder."

Last week, in a full-page advertisement in the New York Times, the Anti-Defamation League of B'nai B'rith ran what it called excerpts from the speech. After the ad appeared, many black leaders called upon Minister Farrakhan to either repudiate the remarks or explain them.

He has refused to do either. Instead, he reportedly said on Monday that Jews were "trying to use my brother Khalid's words against me to divide the house. The members of the Jewish community are the most organized, rich and powerful in the world . . . They're plotting as we speak."

Politically, it is not easy for black leaders to denounce the vituperative remarks attributed to Mr. Muhammad.

Though seldom acknowledged, anti-Semitism exists in the black community to the degree that some people will accuse Mr. Mfume and others of being "puppets of the Jews."

To a black politician, such an accusation could be a potentially damning label and cause the loss of some votes in the black community. It is akin to what happened in the white community a generation ago when some politicians were labeled as supporters of blacks.

Yesterday, a spokesman for the Nation of Islam in Chicago refused to say whether the quotes attributed to Mr. Muhammad and Minister Farrakhan were accurate.

But I was referred to a couple of books "for your education, brother": "The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews," published by the Nation of Islam, and "The Jewish Onslaught: Dispatches from the Wellesley Battlefront," by Dr. Tony Martin.

Both books make essentially the same nonsensical claim as Mr. Muhammad -- that there is a Jewish agenda to hold blacks back. And this week's issue of Mr. Farrakhan's newspaper, the Final Call, includes an interview with Dr. Martin about the Jews.

Therefore, I believe it is reasonable to assume that Mr. Muhammad was stating -- albeit coarsely -- Nation of Islam policy.

If that is so, such attitudes make the Nation of Islam soul brothers of David Duke, the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacists. And any allies of white supremacists are no brothers of mine.

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