What's Still Great

Leave Fred Malek Alone

The idea that he is or was an anti-Semite is insane.

By 6.7.10

There may be a more ridiculous story than that Fred Malek back in the much missed Nixon days was a kind of "Jew counter" in some kind of anti-Semitic way, but it would be hard to imagine what it would be.

To make a silly story short, back in roughly 1970-71, there was a string of bad economic numbers coming out of the prestigious Bureau of Labor Statistics. Richard Nixon, then President, was told by his top economic advisers, of whom my beloved father, Herbert Stein, was one, that the real economic picture was better than that and that the BLS was emphasizing the negative, although without in any way lying.

Richard Nixon, in a silly moment, asked if the economists in the BLS who were giving out the data were his political enemies and if they were Jews. Now, bear in mind, Nixon was BY FAR the best friend the Jewish people have ever had since Abraham. He had the most Jewish appointees to high offices, the most pro-Israel foreign and defense policy in history, saved Israel in the Yom Kippur War, put Russia at bay about helping Egypt in that war -- was just the best friend Jews have ever had, including Jews themselves.

But Nixon believed, with good reason, that most economists at the BLS were Jews and that most of them were Democrats and wondered if there was some connection between those facts and the bad news from the BLS.

Nixon never intended to do a thing about it, never intended to punish anyone, was just curious about why the BLS seemed to be slanting the news the way he thought it was being slanted.

Bear in mind, again, this is the same Nixon who risked everything to save Israel, who had a Jew as top foreign policy adviser, a Jew as head of the Fed and a Jew (my father as of 1972) as Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers.

So, Bob Haldeman, chief of staff at the White House, was asked to find out about the political and ethnic complexion of the BLS economists. Again, there was never any hint of any kind of consequence and everyone, including RN, knew it was a kind of silly, pixilated, quest.

So, Haldeman tasked his deputy, Fred Malek, one of the nicest guys on the planet, with finding this out. Malek did it, and reported it, and that was the end of it.

Now, again, to coin a phrase, bear in mind, this was 40 years ago, when the same kind of PC notions that we take for granted about race and ethnicity were not in vogue. It was routine to discuss ethnicity in terms of achievement, ability, crime, et cetera. Now, of course, the only ethnic thinking allowed is to hold Israel to an impossible standard of assisted suicide.

But, again, no action was taken by Nixon about the BLS, and life went on. It was just one of RN's brief obsessions. I doubt if he remembered it five days later. 

Fred Malek went on to build an enormous career after government working mostly with Jews. Nixon, again, went on to be the true savior of Eretz Israel. To allege, 40 years later, that a fine public servant without a morsel of racism in him, Fred Malek, was somehow an anti-Semite, to allege that Nixon was an anti-Semite, is simple nonsense. That's it. End of story.


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About the Author

Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes "Ben Stein's Diary" for every issue of The American Spectator.