Jackson, Mfume shocked, shocked by Farrakhan

January 28, 1994|By ROGER SIMON

Jesse Jackson has suddenly discovered that Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam does not like Jews, white people or the pope.

Jackson did not know this before.

Jackson only learned about it when he picked up the New York Times on Jan. 16 and saw excerpts from a speech made by Nation of Islam national spokesman Khalid Abdul Muhammad that dripped hatred and spewed venom.

Muhammad called Jews "the bloodsuckers of the black nation." He said that black South Africans "should kill everything white" in their country. And he called Pope John Paul II "the old, no-good pope, you know that cracker. Somebody need to raise that dress up and see what's really under there."

Jackson was so shocked by all this that five days later he called the Times and denounced the speech as "racist, anti-Semitic, divisive, untrue and chilling."

Jackson also called upon Farrakhan to "address" the statements made by his spokesman.

What is odd about all this, however, is that Farrakhan, himself, has made similar statements for years. And Jackson has never demanded that Farrakhan repudiate his own racism, anti-Semitism or lies.

Far from it. Last September, a meeting between Farrakhan, Jackson, Ben Chavis of the NAACP and Rep. Kweisi Mfume, D-Md., who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus, ended with the participants calling for new unity between the groups.

Mfume even went so far as to enter into a "sacred covenant" with Farrakhan. "No longer will we allow people to divide us," Mfume said to a cheering crowd.

The covenant set up formal links between the Black Caucus, which is made up of the 40 black members of Congress, and Farrakhan's Nation of Islam.

Yet only five months before, Farrakhan had told the Chicago Sun-Times: "When I talk to Jews, I am talking to a segment of that quorum that holds my people in their grip. . . . They got a grip on politicians, on black preachers, on black intellectuals."

On June 5, 1992, in his newspaper The Final Call, Farrakhan said: "The God who taught me calls the white man the skunk of the planet earth. He is so wicked and so filthy that God calls him the skunk of the planet."

In March of that year, he wrote: "Does the Pope ask his white brothers and sisters to repent of their evils to our people [in Africa] before asking our people to forgive? Does he really represent Christ, or does he represent that originator and organizer of organized crime on this earth? Who represents Christ: Pope John Paul II or the Honorable Louis Farrakhan?"

Yet only now are Jackson and Mfume and other black leaders shocked by Farrakhan's platform.

How come they weren't shocked before?

Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, says the difference between Farrakhan's statements and the statements of his spokesman is a difference of degree and style.

"We are very much concerned with the level of racism and anti-Semitism from the lips of the Rev. Louis Farrakhan," Foxman told me. "But it doesn't come close to the high-decibel, off-the-wall anti-Semitic lunacy that came from Minister Muhammad. This was on its face so hideous that you couldn't hide from it. Black leaders called me when they read that speech to tell me they were appalled."

But shouldn't they have been appalled a long time ago?

I called Mfume and asked him if he was unaware of Farrakhan's past statements before entering into his "sacred covenant" with him.

Mfume said he knew of the statements, but that he was trying to "reach out" to Farrakhan.

"I was raised in a rather simple manner to believe that you have to try to find the best in people," Mfume said. "I was trying to reach out at least once and try to make a difference."

But wasn't it naive to believe that he could "reach out" to a seasoned demagogue like Farrakhan?

"Some people might come to the conclusion it was naive," Mfume said. "But I thought it was an attempt that was necessary. The risks were great, but the benefits would have been greater."

Today, there are no benefits.

Today, there is only a hatred so appalling that nobody can still hide from it.

SUNDAY: Mfume and Farrakhan

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