Hate wins when leaders stay silent

Hate wins when leaders stay silent
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“The only two certainties in life are death and taxes.” It is a line attributed to both Mark Twain and Benjamin Franklin. No matter who coined it, few can doubt its veracity. Today, it might be revised to add a third certainty: Louis Farrakhan is an anti-Semite and a hate monger. We cite as evidence his July 4 address, “The Criterion,” that was scheduled to air on, but cancelled by, Fox Soul, a new streaming service by the broadcast giant. 

It was then aired on Revolt TV, a channel founded and run by Sean “Puffy” Combs, also known as P. Diddy, Diddy and Puff Daddy. The rapper and songwriter, worth an estimated $885 million, evidently was proud to air Farrakhan’s message, tweeting: “Everyone can watch … Just not the scared ones.” 

Truth be told, Jews have every reason to be scared. They recall another hate monger from the 1930s who started out by putting across his message in the beer halls, until he had millions of followers goose-stepping with him through the streets of Germany.

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During his speech, Farrakhan — who has called Jews “termites” and falsely accused Jews of being behind the slave trade — stated that Jews are “responsible for this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out, turning men into women and women into men.” He has questioned whether the Holocaust occurred, stated that Jewish people are “Satan,” and claimed that Jews rejected the Torah and replaced it with the Talmud

“They made that word in their minds, and in their believers’ minds, greater than God’s words,” Farrakhan said. He warned Black and brown Americans not to be immunized against COVID-19 if a vaccine is created, saying it will be a plot to depopulate them.

In the weeks leading up to Farrakhan’s address, personalities such as rappers Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg tweeted out remarks in support of Farrakhan to their millions of followers. The founder of Black Lives Matter-Los Angeles, Melina Abdullah, has been outspoken in her support of Farrakhan, as has Tamika Mallory, one of the organizers of the 2017 Women’s March. 

A few days after “The Criterion” aired on Revolt TV, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson posted on Instagram his admiration for Farrakhan and published a quote that he maintains came from Adolf Hitler, stating that white Jews “knows [sic] that the Negroes are the real Children of Israel and to keep Americas [sic] secret the Jews will blackmail America. They will extort America, their plan for world domination won't work if the Negroes know who they were.” Jackson was criticized by Philadelphia Eagles management for his remarks and then issued an apology that later was condemned by sportswriter Reuben Frank of NBC Sports as showing a “profound lack of understanding for why people are offended.” He said: “It wasn’t an apology at all.”

While the reaction in the Jewish community to Farrakhan’s latest diatribe and the messages of support from prominent Black celebrities was predictably negative, what is most upsetting is the absolute silence from America’s Black leaders and clergy with regard to the hateful, anti-Semitic message. Many Jews have proudly expressed their solidarity for African Americans in the wake of the horrific deaths of George Floyd and other Blacks at the hands of police. American Jews, in large numbers, and leaders of the American Jewish community have been outspoken in their support for racial justice and police reforms. 

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So, we believe it’s fair to ask why there hasn’t been any condemnation or criticism by African American leaders of Louis Farrakhan’s hateful rhetoric. Why do they remain silent, when he defames not only Jews but others, including the LGBTQ community? He has spread falsehoods about those who are working to find a cure for the coronavirus pandemic, which so far has killed more than 130,000 Americans, a large number of them Blacks. As Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us all, “He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.”  

At a time when our nation is faced with a health emergency, when our economy has been shut down and millions of people have been thrown out of work, when there is the very real issue of finding a way to repair the wounds of racial injustice, this is the moment when haters and anti-Semites must be criticized — not supported. We must condemn Farrakhan’s words, not ignore them. As writer James Baldwin once said: “Not everything that is faced can be changed. But nothing can be changed until it is faced.” 

Just as Jewish Americans are trying to understand the realities faced by many Black Americans, the African American community also should be willing to examine the realities faced by American Jews. The virulent anti-Semitism of Louis Farrakhan is one such reality. And just as Jews are willing to stand with their Black brothers and sisters in the fight for racial justice, African Americans should be willing to stand with their Jewish brothers and sisters in the fight again anti-Semitism.

Let us recall that the only real winner in the U.S. decision to attend the 1936 Olympics in Berlin was Adolf Hitler. Likewise, in today’s world, when celebrities and sports figures honor Farrakhan and African American leaders remain silent, only hate wins.

Rabbi Marvin Hier is founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center and a two-time Academy Award-winner for producing the documentaries “The Long Way Home” (1997) and “Genocide” (1982). 

Richard Trank is writer, director and executive producer of the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s award-winning Moriah Films division and an Academy Award winner for “The Long Way Home.”