- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 12, 2000

"Say it ain't so, Joe." I'm afraid it is so. Sen. Joe Lieberman, ah frumer yid or, in English, a religious Jew announced on Sept. 26: "I'd be open to sitting and talking to Minister [Louis] Farrakhan … I have respect for him …" In February 1994, Vice President Gore said: "We should not tolerate any anti-Semitic statements by people like Louis Farrakhan." Mr. Lieberman would have agreed with Gore six years ago but then, of course, he wasn't running for vice president.

They called the baseball great Joe Jackson "Shoeless Joe Jackson." Let's call the senator from Connecticut "Ruthless Joe Lieberman." Would this Joe do anything to win the presidential election? You bet he would.

I wrote nothing when he sold out his position against affirmative action to placate Rep. Maxine Waters, or when he forgot his crusade against Hollywood depravity in the interests of campaign fund-raising. I wanted to see how flexible a conscience he had. Now I know. With his sellout to Minister Farrakhan, I have my answer. What Al Gore wouldn't dare do as a Southern Baptist, Ruthless Joe offers, as a devout Jew, to do gladly. Get it? Boy, they're smart.

Who is this man whom Ruthless Joe respects? I have followed Minister Farrakhan's career for some time. In particular, I recall a press conference on Feb. 3, 1994, at the Vista Hotel in Washington, which I attended. The oratory that afternoon would have suited a Nuremberg rally. I listened to a man who, speaking in the name of Allah, cited as theological justification for his hostility to Jews the Talmud, as having pronounced the curse of Ham on the black race. He accused Jews of being slave traders in the South. Mr. Farrakhan said he wanted to save the world from the "Jewish menace."

What I heard from the lips of Minister Farrakhan were not only accusations against Jews as enemies of blacks but also accusations against the Roman Catholic Church, because the Catholic Church, he said, had never spoken up against lynching and slavery. He demanded black disaffiliation from Catholic and Protestant denominations, from Christianity itself. He intends that American blacks join the Nation of Islam and accept the rule of the mosque. Minister Farrakhan's message is that liberation for blacks will come from Mohammed not Christ, from Mecca not Rome, from Islam not Christianity. In other words, Minister Farrakhan is not only an anti-Semite, he is also anti-Christian.

I wonder whether Ruthless Joe is aware that the A. Philip Randolph Institute, without mincing words, has spoken out to its black constituency against Minister Farrakhan and everything he stands for. Norman Hill, president of the Randolph Institute, publicly repudiated Minister Farrakhan as a civil rights leader.

One of the more disreputable aides of Minister Farrakhan is a black man who now goes by the name of Khalid Muhammad. His denunciations of Jews might have come from one of Adolf Hitler's favorite newspapers, Julius Streicher's "Der Stuermer." Muhammad's speech a few years ago was described by Norman Hill "as one of the vilest statements which spewed in the most simplistic terms: hatred."

Even though Minister Farrakhan eventually suspended Khalid Muhammad as an official spokesman for the Nation of Islam, "it is significant," said Mr. Hill, "that Farrakhan did not denounce the essence of the statement nor its positions." In effect, said Mr. Hill, Minister Farrakhan exculpated Muhammad as someone who had only spoken the truth and should, therefore, only be criticized "because of the manner in which the statement was made."

"Still, there are those African-American leaders," said Mr. Hill, "who continue to want to bring Farrakhan into the family of civil rights leaders." And now we can include a Jewish-American leader who wants to do the same thing.

Back in the 1930s there was a charming rogue of a politician named Jimmy Walker, who became mayor of New York City. Eventually he had to resign because he was a crook. In an earlier role as a New York state legislator Jimmy Walker rose to defend his surprising vote for some obnoxious bill. With a fine irony he uttered this unforgettable line: "There comes a time in every politician's life when he must rise above principle." Ruthless Joe Lieberman understands.

Arnold Beichman, a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, is a columnist for The Washington Times.

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