250 protest address by Afrocentric professor

March 13, 1994|By C. Fraser Smith and James Bock | C. Fraser Smith and James Bock,Sun Staff Writers

About 250 people gathered last night at Baltimore's downtown Holocaust Memorial to denounce a talk occurring on the opposite side of town by a Wellesley College professor who blames Jews for much of the plight of American blacks.

Tony Martin, a black Wellesley professor who has written a book called "The Jewish Onslaught," continued his attack last night during a speech at Walbrook High School.

"If anybody still wonders whether there's a 'Jewish onslaught,' what has happened in Baltimore the past few days is proof of the reality we have to deal with today," Dr. Martin said.

He was referring to the protests of his remarks and calls for the Baltimore school system, which rented Walbrook facilities to the group sponsoring Dr. Martin, to bar him from speaking in a city school.

A far different opinion was aired at the Holocaust Memorial, starting about 8 p.m.

"The real onslaught is of hatred and vindictiveness leveled against the Jewish people by the leaders of the Nation of Islam," said Rabbi Chaim Landau of Ner Tamid Congregation of Baltimore.

But not all of the demonstrators were at the memorial to protest Dr. Martin's views.

About a dozen young men and women who appeared to be skinheads from an unnamed neo-Nazi organization marched on the north side of Water Street opposite the memorial with two orange and black flags, each marked by a swastika.

"Drop dead," shouted one of the 250 or so people demonstrating at the memorial.

"Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil, Sieg Heil," the counter-demonstrators chanted.

The skinheads identified themselves as "white people of America for a white future."

One of the Jewish demonstrators, a veteran of World War II and the Korean conflict, ran into the group and tore one of the flags from its pole. He stuffed the flag under his coat and walked back to the memorial.

"I have relatives who died in the [Nazis' World War II concentration] camps, and every time I see that insignia, it just makes me angry," he said.

Among the speakers at the memorial was Rep. Benjamin L. Cardin, a 3rd District Democrat.

"We will never be silent, we will always speak out against hatred," Mr. Cardin told the crowd. "We will stand up together to purge our community of that type of behavior."

Alan L. Keyes -- radio talk show host, former diplomat and former candidate for U.S. Senate -- was one of the speakers.

Mr. Keyes, who is black, said Americans must stand up to hateful words and writings.

"Violence on the street begins with violence on the tongue, in the heart and in the mind," he said. The hatred that led to the Holocaust is the same hatred that allowed slavery, he said.

After the neo-Nazis left, one of the Jewish demonstrators said, "What just happened shows that the people we have to worry about are the neo-Nazis -- not Jews and blacks. When people realize that, maybe we can get back to business."

Jay Bernstein, one of the rally's organizers and founder of a group called People Against Hate, said Jewish leaders protested at the memorial instead of at Walbrook High to avoid being confrontational.

The memorial, commemorating the 6 million Jews killed during the Holocaust, provided a fitting site for the rally, Mr. Bernstein said. "This is a symbol of where hate leads," he said. "These lies must be met with the strongest condemnation from all groups."

At Walbrook, Dr. Martin addressed a mostly middle-aged crowd. The 1,300-seat high school auditorium was half full. Dr. Martin was flanked by three bodyguards.

He described what he considers a pattern of Jewish opposition to black advancement over the past 20 years. He cited what he said was Jewish opposition to affirmative action, the removal of Andrew Young as United Nations ambassador and criticism of then-presidential candidate the Rev. Jesse L. Jackson for calling New York "Hymietown."

"I guarantee you can pick up any Jewish newspaper in the country and find any number of expressions worse than Hymietown directed against black people," he said to vigorous applause. Dr. Martin ridiculed Mr. Jackson and other mainstream civil rights leaders for being sensitive to Jewish concerns.

"We are dealing here now with power gone crazy," he said, referring to American Jewish organizations.

Dr. Martin received several standing ovations.

At the door of the school, civic activist A. Robert Kaufman distributed an open letter to those willing to accept them.

"The general Jewish community has been in my experience the ethnic group most sympathetic to black aspirations of complete equality since the 1930s," the letter said.

He called on African-Americans to "excise this unjust and historically dishonest anti-Semitism."

Jay Rashid Karter, an organizer of the event, told the audience that whites apparently were frightened that blacks were learning their own history.

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