Memo To:Mayor Rudy Guiliani
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: Khalid Muhammad
As we move closer to September 5, the date of the Million Youth March in New York City being sponsored by the new Black Panthers, it is important that you have a clear picture of where Khalid Muhammad is coming from, or you will miscalculate and cause serious harm to the city and its black/white relations. It is too easy to view Khalid as a man motivated by pure hatred of the white community in general and Jewish community in particular. The reason he may get a sizeable turnout of young black men and women, including at sizeable representation of gang members, is that a great many black youths view him as acting out of love for them. Donít laugh, mayor. This is whatís happening.
Khalid has become a repository for a black rage that could not be contained by Minister Louis Farrakhan within the Nation of Islam. Iím sure you never thought of it this way, but Minister Farrakhan is a holy man who teaches his followers to love their enemies. He teaches them to renounce violence as a means to an end, teaches them to turn the other cheek when insults are hurled at them instead of throwing insults back. Members of the NOI do not carry weapons; to be in good standing they are forbidden to own guns. No member of the NOI since its founding in 1930 has been convicted of a hate crime of any kind, certainly no desecration of a holy place of any religion. Khalid Muhammad remained a member in good standing with the NOI and served in a high rank in its organization -- until he lost control of himself in 1993, having his frustration and anger turn to hatred against the white community in general and the Jewish community in particular. It saddened Minister Farrakhan that this happened, but it forced him to take Khalid out of good standing.
At the Nationof Islamís Saviorís Day celebration in Chicago this spring, which I attended as an observer at the invitation of Minister Farrakhan, I heard Minister Farrakhan during his lengthy address take a moment to ask the 15000 Muslims to say a prayer -- for Khalid. There is no excommunication in the Nation of Islam. Those brothers and sisters who stray from the rules of the church are simply known to be on the outs with the community. So it is with Khalid. He has formed his own political organization. He apparently encourages his members to bear arms. He acts out of the rage felt especially among the dispossessed young black men and boys who have for so long lived at the bottom of American life, who continue to feel oppressed by a white supremacy they know continues whether you or I or other white Americans are conscious of it.
The NYTimes has reported that Min. Farrakhan ďsupportsĒ Khalidís Million Youth March. I would rather put it that he does not oppose it -- as long as he knows Khalid is planning a peaceful event. If he were asked, would he join the march? I donít know. But if he did, it would certainly be a peaceful march. Minister Farrakhan has the moral authority in the black community to produce that kind of an outcome. My advice to you, Mayor, is to call Mayor Ed Rendell of Philadelphia, who is a Democrat and who is Jewish, and who called upon Louis Farrakhan to come to the City of Brotherly Love to defuse an explosive racial situation involving a march. Mayor Rendell will tell you that Minister Farrakhan is a good man, as far as he can tell, and that his appearance in Philadelphia was most salutory. The Jewish political organizations denounced Rendell for what he did, but in the wake of Minister Farrakhanís visit, the local newspapers reported 50-to-1 approval of Rendell. Subsequently, Mayor Daley of Chicago met with Farrakhan and again found the experience a useful, hopeful one.
You must appreciate the fact that while Rep. Charlie Rangel can actively oppose the idea of the march, because he is a political man, Minister Farrakhan cannot oppose it because he does see there is a rage that exists among black youth, and unless it can express itself in a peaceful way, it will find other ways to do so that will not be peaceful.
My suggestion is that you call Jack Kemp, who is as plugged in as anyone in the white community because of his lifelong concern for problems affecting the black community -- and his close relationship with the Jewish community. In the LA riots following the Rodney King verdict, Jack made contact with the Nation of Islam, and the experience was extremely helpful in calming those troubled waters. I know you like Jack, who supported your mayoral candidacy when many other Republicans turned up their noses. And he appreciates the great strides you have made in improving the lives of the people of your city. There has to be a way of defusing what might be a tinderbox. You canít go wrong by trying this direction. Iím sure Jack would be glad to help.