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The Road to Nowhere: Tracing Farrakhan's Anti-Jewish Paranoia

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Announcing the publication of Volume 2 of the Nation of Islam's anonymously authored, The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews, Louis Farrakhan has again demonized American Jews--this time demanding they apologize for "an undeniable record of Jewish anti-Black behavior, starting with the horror of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, plantation slavery, Jim Crow, sharecropping, the labor movement of the North and South, the unions and the misuse of our people that continues to this very moment."

The first volume of Farrakhan's Secret Relationship (published in 1991) took up where Henry Ford's The International Jew left off seventy years before. Ford, within a decade, was forced to repudiate his handiwork after revelations that it was based on The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, an anti-Semitic forgery by the Czar's secret police. Yet Farrakhan continues to regurgitate and embroider upon the same old libels, despite a half dozen refutations--beginning with the systematic demolition published by the Simon Wiesenthal Center in 1992.

There is nothing "secret" about the fact--documented by Jewish historians for over a century--that there were Jewish slave traders and slave holders. But according to Jacob Rader Marcus, "American Jewish businessmen were accountable for less than two percent of the slave imports into the West Indies and North America. Bertram W. Korn, adds this perspective: "None of the major slave traders [in the Old South] were Jewish," while "Jewish owners of plantations . . . constituted only a tiny proportion of the [slave holding] Southerners." Not only were Jewish slaveholders vastly outnumbered by white Christian slaveholders, they were also decidedly outnumbered by free blacks who owned other African Americans--most often for the same motive that, according to African American historian Carter G. Woodson, impelled whites to own slaves: the profit motive.

What really galls Farrakhan is not so much the sins committed by a relative handful of American Jews decades before the massive Jewish exodus from Eastern Europe to the United States began. Rather, it's the good deeds done by Jews in the context of the modern civil rights movement. Jews were 3 percent of the U.S. population in the 1960s, yet fully half of the Northern white college students who put their lives on their line during Mississippi Freedom Summer in 1964 were Jewish. Rather than admit that they were motivated by altruism or enlightened self-interest or a combination of both, Farrakhan is obsessed with "proving" those activists were really engineers of an insidious conspiracy to "brainwash" African Americans into believing that Integration was really an achievable goal in America. All the African American success stories since the 1960s--culminating in Barack Obama's election with 78 percent of the American Jewish vote--matter not one whit to Farrakhan whose hatred of whites, and Jews in particular, is impervious to reality.

His current campaign to blame Jews in the entertainment industry and sports management for exploiting talented African Americans is merely a 21st century update of the "bloodsucker" libel from his notorious Time magazine of two decades ago.

In New Orleans exactly 100 years before Obama's election, young Louis Armstrong bought his first cornet with money he made doing odd jobs for an immigrant Jewish family of junk haulers of whom he subsequently wrote: "I was only seven years old but I could easily see the ungodly treatment that the White Folks were handing the poor Jewish family whom I worked for." Later, he wore in remembrance of the Karnofskys' kindness, a Star of David pendant given him by his longtime manager and friend, Joe Glaser. No doubt Farrakhan would consider the Star of David around the jazz great's neck as just another insignia of slavery. But then--as a musician and a man--Louis Farrakhan never measured up to Louis Armstrong.

Louis Farrakhan had his chance to reach out to mainstream America at the Million Man March on Washington in 1995. Rather than seize that moment, he squandered it by regaling a national audience with three hours of anti-Masonic conspiracy theories larded with mystical numerology. His Nation of Islam never carried through on the March's promise of a grassroots movement to strengthen families and restore personal responsibility. Today, with the NOI largely an empty shell, Malik "Zulu" Shabazz of the extremist New Black Panther Party waits impatiently to assume Farrakhan's demagogic mantle without understanding that for African American leaders anti-Semitism remains what it has always been: a dead end.

*This essay was authored with historian Dr. Harold Brackman, author of Farrakhan's Reign of Historical Error. Dr. Brackman is a consultant to the Simon Wiesenthal Center