To: Rupert Murdoch
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Farrakhan and the New York Post
You may remember a conversation we had three years ago, at Mike Milken’s “Capcure” charity dinner in New York for prostate cancer. I said Mike -- who was sitting next to you -- was the most demonized Jew in America and that Louis Farrakhan the most demonized black, and I was defending both against charges that they did things they did not do. You wished me luck. Let me tell you, it has not been easy. There has been a general sense that Mike may have been railroaded by an aggressive federal prosecutor named Rudy Giuliani, based on phony tips from a real crook, Ivan Boesky. At least the national press corps reports on Mike’s charitable works and business activities have been fair enough, perhaps reflecting an understanding inside the news media that something was just not right in the Milken prosecution. The same cannot be said for Minister Farrakhan. The difference may be that no criminal charges have ever been leveled at the spiritual leader of the Nation of Islam, only the social accusation of bigotry and anti-Semitism. He can insist until he is blue in the face that the charges are not true, but the press corps has trouble dealing with quotes and actions attributed to him that seem to prove the case against him.
The reason for this memo to you is that as chairman of the NYPost and a major media mogul, you might lend a hand in sorting this out. I’m prompted by an editorial that appeared in the Post last Saturday, “Farrakhan’s Fake Regrets,” which repeats the charge you may yourself believe, that Farrakhan once called Judaism a “dirty religion.” As my letter makes clear, he never did. Earlier this year I scored a small success when I persuaded the NYTimes to check its report that he once said the Pope was the anti-Christ -- a canard which the NYPost has repeated many times over the years. The Times subsequently wrote a correction. It could not find support for its assertion that Farrakhan once termed Judaism a “dirty religion,” but although I wrote a letter to Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger, Jr., there has as yet been no correction, and it appeared again in the Post editorial. I’m not sure if this will strike you as something that deserves your attention, but perhaps it will jar something loose among the editors at the Post so they might at least run the letter. If Muslims and Jews from the Middle East can come together at Camp David without preconditions to find a path to reconciliation, I know you would agree the American Jewish Community and American Muslims should be able to do the same.
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July 8, 2000
Letter to the Editor
In commenting on "[Minister Louis] Farrakhan's Fake Regrets," the Post editorialist repeats the falsehoods that he "once termed Judaism as a 'dirty religion' and published historically false tracts accusing Jews of controlling the slave trade."
I've discussed these reports with Min. Farrakhan, who insists he not only has never said Judaism was a "dirty religion," or "gutter religion," as has also been said, but that he reveres Judaism and the law of Abraham and Moses as the font of all monotheistic faith, including Christianity and Islam itself. There is no record I can find where he uses the word "Judaism" and "dirty" or "gutter" in the same paragraph, let alone the same sentence. Nor could The New York Times when I asked them to justify writing that he did so.
Indeed, the Times issued a "correction" to its report that he had called the Pope the "anti-Christ," when in fact it was Khalid Muhammad who made that statement in 1994 on a Phil Donohue show. Khalid, of course, was expelled from the good graces of the Nation of Islam for such statements. When former New York Mayor Ed Koch attributed the "anti-Christ" quote to Farrakhan more than a year ago, I corrected him, and he agreed he had been in error after checking with his sources. He did not write a correction in the Post, however.
As for publishing "false tracts accusing Jews of controlling the slave trade," the "tracts" published were by respected Jewish scholars who wrote of the fact of Jewish participation in the slave trade, as limited as it was, and of Jewish ownership of slaves in the Old South. The Nation of Islam's motive: To remind the Jewish community that while Jews and blacks both have experienced slavery, blacks never have enslaved Jews, but the reverse has been true. That is, there is no room in this history for Jews to claim they are holier than thou.
The Post editorialist also errs in stating that Farrakhan has reversed himself by saying he no longer "regrets" his past behavior. In the last few years that I have gotten to know him, he repeatedly has said he wishes reconciliation with the Jewish community, but not if he has to first apologize for things he has not done. Again and again, he has extended his hand in friendship to the Jewish community, but on his feet, not on his knees.
As a white Catholic of 64 years who has spent his life in close friendship with blacks and Jews, I've been frustrated in my attempts to broker reconciliation because of the insistence of Jewish leaders on such preconditions. There could never have been a Camp David with Menachim Begin and Anwar Sadat if either had insisted on abject apologies, especially for things that were never said.