Special Report

Obama’s Farrakhan Problem

It has not gone unnoticed that it was not until his presidential campaign that Obama first offered mild criticism of the Nation of Islam leader.

By 10.16.08

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Barack Obama has a Louis Farrakhan problem and not because of his endorsement from Farrakhan. Instead, it is because of Obama's more-than-passing association with Farrakhan and those who are close to the Nation of Islam leader.

In spite of Farrakhan's long history as a racist, bigot and anti-Semite, Obama thought favorably enough of him to join Farrakhan's 1995 march on Washington, D.C. Reportedly, Obama joined Reverends Jeremiah Wright and Al Sharpton in organizing the march.

Farrakhan's bona fides as a purveyor of hate are well-documented. He called Jews "bloodsuckers," Judaism a "gutter religion" and referred to Adolf Hitler as a "great man." Farrakhan said, "The God who taught me calls the white man the skunk of the planet earth."

Farrakhan promoted the anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that "the AIDS epidemic is a result of doctors, especially Jewish ones, who inject the AIDS virus into blacks." According to Farrakhan, blacks are prevented from progressing in the arts, sports, academia and politics because of Jews. "When I talk to the Jews, I am talking to a segment of that quorum that holds my people in their grip," he told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Farrakhan claimed that the POWER line of toiletry products he launched in the 1980s failed to succeed because of pressure from Jews. Obama blamed the failure of Farrakhan's products on whites. In Dreams from My Father, Obama wrote "That the POWER campaign sputtered said something about the difficulty that faced any black business -- the barriers to entry, the lack of finance, the leg up that your competitors possessed after having kept you out of the game for over three hundred years."

This should not be quickly dismissed as merely guilt by association because the overall narrative is one of someone continually associating with a group of repugnant individuals. Consider Obama's 20-year close relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright, a long-time Farrakhan supporter.

Wright's close friendship with Farrakhan goes back at least to the 1980s. Wright joined Farrakhan on a 1984 trip to Libya to visit Moammar Gadhafi. Wright predicted that once this became public knowledge "a lot of his [Obama's] Jewish support will dry up quicker than a snowball in Hell."

In his 1996 book When Black Men Stand Up for God, Wright called Farrakhan's black critics "'colored' leaders," "Oreos," "house niggras," and "enemies." Wright praised Farrakhan as recently as last year. "Minister Farrakhan will be remembered as one of the 20th and 21st century giants of the African-American religious experience," he said. "His love for Africa and African American people has made him an unforgettable force, a catalyst for change and a religious leader who is sincere about his faith and his purpose."

Trumpet, a magazine operated by Wright and Trinity Church, honored Farrakhan in November 2007 with the "Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Trumpeteer" Award.

Farrakhan was knee-deep in a racist and anti-Semitic scandal the year before his D.C. march. Senior Nation of Islam official Khalid Abdul Muhammad delivered three hours of remarks at New Jersey's Keane College that attacked whites, Jews, Catholics, homosexuals and white South Africans.

Muhammad called Jews "the blood suckers of the black nation and the black community." He warned the audience of "Columbia Jew-niversity over in Jew York City." He called the U.N., the "Jew-nited Nations." He said Jews were named Reubenstein, Goldstein and Silverstein because they "[have] been stealing rubies and gold and silver all over the earth. That's why we can't even wear a ring or a bracelet or a necklace without calling it Jewelry ... but it's not jewelry, it's Jew-elry." Muhammad argued Jews who perished in the Holocaust had it coming to them. He asked, "[D]on't nobody ever ask what did they do to Hitler?" Then he answered his own question with, "They had undermined the very fabric of the society."

A public outcry erupted and several public figures implored Farrakhan to repudiate Muhammad. Instead, Farrakhan backed Muhammad at a rally saying, "We know that Jews are the most organized, rich and powerful people, not only in America, but in the world. They are plotting against us even as we speak." Then Farrakhan clasped Muhammad in an embrace on stage. Yet, this did not dissuade Obama from joining Farrakhan's march the following year.

Obama admitted to showing interest in the Black Muslim faith when he was in his 20s. "I would occasionally pick up the paper [The Final Call, the Nation of Islam's newspaper] ... sometimes because my attention was caught by the sensational, tabloid-style headlines (CAUCASIAN WOMAN ADMITS: WHITES ARE THE DEVIL)," he wrote in Dreams. "Inside the front cover, one found reprints of the minister's speeches, as well as stories that could have been picked straight off the AP news wire were it not for certain editorial embellishments ("Jewish Senator Metzenbaum announced today ...")."

Renewed scrutiny of Obama's decades-long associations is not helpful to his candidacy especially considering the concerns of many in the Jewish community over Obama's ties to noted anti-Semites and critics of Israel. It has not gone unnoticed that it was not until after he began his presidential run that Obama first offered mild criticism of Louis Farrakhan.

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About the Author
Mark Hyman hosts "Behind the Headlines," a commentary program for Sinclair Broadcast Group. You can follow him on Twitter at @markhyman.