Will All Democrats Finally Condemn Louis Farrakhan?
After the Pittsburgh tragedy, my good friend Bret Stephens wrote that “The blood that flowed in Pittsburgh is on [Trump’s] hands also.” Bret joined me in a public discussion on the subject recently. The audience was divided, with some agreeing with Bret’s argument that Trump had stoked the fires of hatred and violence that expressed itself in the murder of innocent Jews, and some agreeing with me that rather than condemning a president who has shown unprecedented support for Israel and friendship to the Jewish community, we should instead implore him to give a prime-time address categorically and unequivocally condemning white supremacists.
But what I did not hear was that radical antisemites from the left, like Louis Farrakhan, had contributed to a culture of hatred of the Jewish people, with many Democrats refusing to condemn his recent and vile comparison of Jews to termites.
It is right to demand that President Trump condemn neo-Nazis. But why should Democrats give Farrakhan a pass? And I ask this more than ever of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a proud supporter of Israel who has committed the Democratic party to fighting antisemitism, and my close friend Cory Booker, who has received enormous pro-Israel financial support in the past.
A week before the Pittsburgh massacre, a man got up on a stage in the United States of America, called the Jews termites, and received a standing ovation.
That man was Louis Farrakhan. He is the racist, sexist, homophobic, antisemitic, incendiary leader of the Nation of Islam. Both a religion and social movement, the Nation was born from a combination of elements of traditional Islam and black nationalism. Added to the mix was a healthy infusion of race-based theology, with the group claiming that up until just a few thousand years ago, there were no white people.
The Nation of Islam is also one of the most powerful black organizations in the United States, with up to 50,000 members, and a formidable list of powerful allies and celebrity patrons.
Martin Luther King, Jr., famously called the Nation of Islam a “hate group.” The Southern Poverty Law Center did the same, adding on their website that the Nation has earned itself a “prominent position in the ranks of organized hate.” Under Farrakhan, the Nation of Islam has emerged as one of our country’s leading springs of hatred against not only whites, but against homosexuals and, of course, Jews.
In 1984, Farrakhan referred to the world’s only Jewish state as one “structured on injustice, thievery, lying and deceit.” He accused the Jews of “using the name of God to shield [their] dirty religion.”
Like all haters of Israel, Farrakhan’s antisemitism has nothing to do with a belief in Palestinian rights. On the contrary, it’s because Israel is filled with Jews.
And Louis Farrakhan hates Jews, pure and simple.
Most often, Farrakhan parrots the oldest antisemitic tropes. Taking verbiage right out of the Nazi playbook, Farrakhan has often referred to Jews as “bloodsuckers” for having worked as landlords in black communities.
He’s also taken time to point out the severely unoriginal idea that the Jews control Hollywood. Where he went further than almost any of his Jew-hating peers, however, was in his accusation that the Jews “have been conclusively linked to the greatest criminal endeavor ever undertaken against an entire race of people … the black African Holocaust.”
Unlike the earlier examples, these words were not spoken in the heat of a speech or in the casual environment of a radio interview. These words came right out of Farrakhan’s book, The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews.
Throughout history, antisemites of all stripes have sought to cast the Jews as something utterly worthless, yet massively destructive. It was a way of making the act of killing a Jew something that was not only necessary but meaningless. Hitler’s SS troops, therefore, were able to exterminate tens of thousands of Jews in a day. You see, they were killing an infestation, not people. And now Farrakhan has compared Jews to termites.
It may seem extreme to compare Farrakhan to Hitler — but he did it himself. During a radio interview, Farrakhan acknowledged the fact that “[T]he Jews don’t like Farrakhan, so they call me Hitler.” Instead of rebuffing the comparison, he embraced it. “That’s a good name,” he said, “Hitler was a very great man.” He then reinforced it. “[Hitler] raised Germany up from nothing,” he explained, adding that “in a sense, you could say there’s a similarity in that we are raising our people up from nothing.”
He’s also used the Holocaust as a metaphor to describe what awaited the Jews in hell. My late friend Christopher Hitchens personally heard Farrakhan punctuate a tirade against Jews with this: “And don’t you forget, when it’s God who puts you in the ovens, it’s forever!”
The only question that remains is this: how could leading political figures like Bill Clinton have agreed to legitimize such genocidal hate by recently appearing on the same stage as Farrakhan at Aretha Franklin’s funeral? And given the unfortunate association, why didn’t Clinton immediately condemn Farrakhan’s genocidal Jewish reference?
At least seven members of Congress — including Maxine Waters, Barbara Lee, Danny Davis, Andre Carson, Gregory Meeks, Al Green, and most famously Keith Ellison, have all sat down for personal meetings with Farrakhan while representing the American people in Congress. Farrakhan even attended a 2005 meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus. Barack Obama smiled for a photograph with Farrakhan just three years before becoming president.
American Jews need to draw a line.
It is not only neo-Nazis that need to be condemned by Republicans. It is Farrakhan and his ilk who should be repudiated utterly by Democrats.
Never again must mean exactly that: Never Again.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is the international best-selling author of 24 books. Newsweek calls him “the most famous rabbi in America.”