Any praise of Farrakhan heightens the prestige of the leader of the Nation of Islam. or good reasons and bad, he is already admired in portions of the black community, sometimes for his efforts to rehabilitate criminals. His anti-Semitism is either not considered relevant or is shared, particularly his false insistence that Jews have played an inordinate role in victimizing African Americans.
In this, Farrakhan stands history on its head. It was Jews who disproportionately marched for civil rights and, in Mississippi, died for that cause. Farrakhan and, in effect, [his minister], despoil the graves of Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman and, of course, their black colleague James Chaney.
I can even see how someone, maybe even Obama, could dismiss Farrakhan as a pest, a silly man pushing a silly cause that poses no real threat to the Jewish community. Still, history tells us that anti-Semitism is not to be trifled with. It is a botulism of the mind.
After Cohen's column ran in today's Post, Obama had a change of heart on the matter. "I decry racism and anti-Semitism in every form and strongly condemn the anti-Semitic statements made by Minister Farrakhan," Obama said in a statement. "I assume that Trumpet Magazine made its own decision to honor Farrakhan based on his efforts to rehabilitate ex-offenders, but it is not a decision with which I agree," he added.
That brings us to the candidate the Democratic Party has just asked the 7th District voters to send to Washington to represent us in Congress for the remainder of the term of the late U.S. Rep. Julia Carson (D). Carson's grandson, Andre Carson, was front and center throughout the recent "Going Home" funeral services honoring the life of Rep. Carson. The controversial Farrakhan was invited to speak. Seated next to Farrakhan at the services was a local Nation of Islam leader. While people of many faiths and backgrounds were invited to speak, no representative of the Jewish faith or the GLBT community spoke at the services. During Farrakhan's speech, he echoed the sentiments of U.S. Rep. Carolyn Kilpatrick that it was the dying wish of Rep. Carson, "send my seed" we're told, that Andre take her place in Congress and endorsed the dying wish.
While Carson's own campaign treasurer and long-time Carson supporter, Erin Rosenberg, stood up and walked out of the service when Farrakhan spoke, everyone else politely remained seated, including Gov. Mitch Daniels and Sens. Richard Lugar and Evan Bayh. To many people in the 7th District, it was a slap in the face of Carson's supposed legacy of supporting diversity and equal rights for all to have wanted such a controversial, known-racist and anti-Semite speak at her services. Andre, who is a Muslim like Farrakhan, said it was his grandmother's and not his decision to have Farrakhan speak in an interview with fellow blogger Ruth Holladay. Rep. Carson, who was a Christian, was not known, at least publicly, to have any ties to Farrakhan. Andre told Holladay that his grandmother came in contact with Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam while she was Center Township Trustee, presumably because some of the employees there were followers of Farrakhan. In his interview with Holladay, Andre credited the Nation of Islam with helping to clean up drug-infested neighborhoods, which he said his grandmother found appealing.
Some may be satisfied with Andre's explanation, but others think he is implicitly supporting Farrakhan's racist and anti-Semitic views by not publicly condemning him. Farrakhan's stature was only heightened, as Cohen would explain, by giving him such a prominent role at Rep. Carson's funeral. Should we assume from Andre's silence on Farrakhan that it's because Farrakhan's racism and anti-Semitism are either irrelevant to Andre Carson, or are they shared by him? The voters of the 7th District deserve to hear exactly how Andre feels about Farrakhan in the wake of the honor his family bestowed upon him by allowing him to speak at his grandmother's televised funeral service. And more importantly, does he accept the endorsement of his candidacy Farrakhan delivered to him at his grandmother's funeral.