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Pittsburghers should shun Farrakhan

Written by Susan Mannella on .

No one should interfere with minister Louis Farrakhan's right to speak, but his appearance in Pittsburgh this evening at a forum on "The Disappearing Black Community" bestows on him unwarranted credibility.

Beyond the Million Man March, Rev. Farrakhan has openly purveyed bigotry at home and embraced terrorists abroad. Instead of castigating Moammar Gadhafi for killing his own people, Rev. Farrakhan blamed Zionists who "dominate the government of the United States of America and her banking system" while "trying to push the U.S. into war."

Since the 1980s, Rev. Farrakhan has marketed this canard, a lie that traces back to Henry Ford's notorious libel in his series "The International Jew" (1920), which fanned the flames of Jew-hatred in America and was a favorite of Adolf Hitler. A serial hater, Rev. Farrakhan has libeled Korean and Arab-American merchants, gays and "liberated" women.

Saying Americans should separate the positive message (black empowerment) from the bad (anti-Semitism) just doesn't cut it anymore. Rev. Farrakhan does not deserve the respectability of having Rep. James Clyburn of South Carolina sit along side him. We hope Mr. Clyburn follows the lead of Melanie Campbell and withdraws from the Pittsburgh event.

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., shortly before his assassination, warned: "When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You're talking anti-Semitism."

Today, anti-Semitism, often masked as "anti-Zionism," is making serious inroads in the mainstream of society -- from the intimidation of Jewish students on campuses to ugly anti-Jewish outbursts by prominent people such as Mel Gibson, Helen Thomas, disgraced NPR fundraiser Ron Schiller and fashion designer John Galliano.

All these people were publicly confronted for their bigotry. If America seeks a level-playing field, shouldn't Rev. Farrakhan be subject to the same rules?

RABBI ABRAHAM COOPER
Associate Dean
Simon Wiesenthal Center
Los Angeles, Calif.

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