Memo To: Website fans and Polyconomics clients
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Letter to The Wall Street Journal
Peter A. Signorelli, managing editor of publications at Polyconomics since 1982, has been following the Nation of Islam on and off for 35 years. As an undergraduate in Political Science at the University of Michigan in 1961, Peter helped arrange a speaking engagement by Malcolm X at Ann Arbor and later in Detroit. As a reporter and political columnist in Las Vegas, Nevada, in this period, I had become an admirer of Martin Luther King, having covered a speech he gave at the Convention Center. My interest in Malcolm X developed after his assassination and my reading of the Alex Haley Biography of Malcolm X. At the time of the Million Man March last year, I asked Peter to follow Louis Farrakhan and the Nation more closely, as we both found credible his initiative in seeking reconciliation with the Jewish community. Jack Kemp has had a parallel interest in bridging this gulf. This led to attempts on our part to begin a process that might have benefits similar to those that followed President Carter's Camp David initiative, which brought together Arab and Jew. There has been little progress to date, although I am still in regular contact with the Nation of Islam and remain optimistic that progress can be made if others who remain skeptical can be persuaded of Minister Farrakharis sincerity. In the following letter to the editor of the WSJournal, sent to the newspaper on November 1, Peter Signorelli takes issue with an anti-Farrakhan op-ed article of October 30, which makes no mention of Farrakhan's attempts to seek reconciliation with the Jewish community.
Wall Street Journal
200 Liberty Street
New York, New York 10281
In his opinion-editorial ["A Match Made at the U.N." 10-30] Pedro A. SanJuan indulges in terminological terrorism, slandering Minister Louis Farrakhan as "a racist, anti-Semitic demagogue." He asserts, without providing a shred of evidence, a ridiculous claim that the World Day of Atonement Oct. 16 held before the United Nations was a mere manipulative maneuver by UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali in an effort to secure his reappointment to that position. To be charitable, Mr. SanJuan is misinformed at best. However, the Journal editors are irresponsible for printing such an egregiously misinformed, near-slanderous view.
You are not the first publication to label Min. Farrakhan a racist and anti-Semite, nor would many dispute that he has made remarks that are offensive to Jewish people. However, Min. Farrakhan has on more than one occasion, for twelve years now, stated his desire to heal relations with the Jewish community. Surely you are aware that GOP Vice Presidential candidate Jack Kemp tried a year ago to arrange just such a reconciliation dialogue between the Nation of Islam and the Anti-Defamation League, but that it was Mr. Abraham Foxman of the ADL who declined to participate in that effort. Mr. Kemp recently called upon Min. Farrakhan to renounce anti-Semitism, and Min. Farrakhan did indeed respond, denouncing anti-Semitism before a mass audience at the National Convention of the Oppressed in St. Louis, Mo. September 28. (Maybe you actually are unaware of this, as there has been almost no mention of it in the press.) The response of the ADL has been that this still is not enough, and it will not sit down in dialogue with the Nation of Islam.
More recently, Min. Farrakhan at the World Day of Atonement again extended the hand of reconciliation, stating "I am a sinner like all human beings...but I can only repent when I myself have done some act for which I know I am guilty. I have asked members of the Jewish community, let's sit down and dialogue, and if you can show me where I am in error I will humble myself and admit I am wrong." Again, his offer has been rebuffed (and unreported by the media).
The state of race relations is America's most pressing domestic problem. A healing between the Jewish community and the Nation of Islam is an essential first step in the healing of relations between black and white. Min. Farrakhan's initiative ought to be supported, not dismissed or denounced. It is of serious note that he increasingly speaks a multi-racial force of the oppressed — "Blacks, Native Americans, Hispanics, Arab Americans, poor whites and others" — that can advance the task of reconciliation and responsibility in this "time of great spiritual darkness." Min. Farrakhan wishes to light a candle, but others prefer to sit in the darkness and curse. Mr. SanJuan's diatribe feeds the darkness.
Peter A. Signorelli