Opinion: Louis Farrakhan Just Got an Invite to the White House, So Where’s the Outrage?

Opinion:  Louis Farrakhan Just Got an Invite to the White House, So Where’s the Outrage? 

Louis Farrakhan

White House staffer Omarosa Manigault reached out to the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader, but most Jewish groups have been deafeningly silent in response. It’s a startling double standard compared to their treatment of Keith Ellison

Allison Kaplan Sommer | Haaretz

The news may have been buried under the vast pile of developments in Trump World over the weekend (health care, religious liberty, overseas trip, Ivanka’s book and Kushner’s conflict of interest, for starters), but the resounding silence by the Republican noise machine and mainstream Jewish community following White House staffer Omarosa Manigault’s friendly remarks and outreach to anti-Semitic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan still spoke volumes.   

“I’ve never shied away from having an open, and I believe a good, relationship with Louis Farrakhan,” said Manigault, director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison in the Trump administration. “I would look forward to receiving that invitation and sitting down with him.”

Manigault was rolling out the red carpet for Farrakhan during a chat with talk-show hosts on a Chicago radio station on Thursday.

The conversation was part of Manigault’s efforts to send a message that the Trump administration was reaching out to the African-American community – something the former reality star has been attempting, with mixed results, since starting her job.

When they asked her – cloaked in polite words – how a self-respecting African-American woman could carry water for Trump, she responded that the community had no right to complain about Trump’s policies (as they have vocally in Manigault’s presence) if they didn’t make their concerns and desires known to the White House.

The radio hosts followed up by asking if Farrakhan would be among those invited to give the White House his two cents, and Manigault replied hospitably.

Just one Jewish organization spoke out strongly following the incident, asking for clarification. It was Anti-Defamation League National Director Jonathan Greenblatt, who quickly issued a statement that “Louis Farrakhan should not be made to feel welcome by anyone in the White House. Such an overture would only serve to legitimize his long record of conspiratorial and hateful views toward Jews. We hope that the administration will make it clear that Farrakhan and his anti-Semitic organization will find no supporters in the White House.”

But from Trump supporters, the Republican Party, the rest of the American-Jewish community, and even Democrats – nada.

Let’s set aside for a moment the theoretical firestorm that would have erupted if a staffer holding the same position in the Obama White House had spoken of a “good” relationship with Farrakhan.

There is a real-life comparison to be made, when one considers the months of outrage over Farrakhan during Rep. Keith Ellison’s campaign for DNC chairman, delivered from all quarters.

From the early days of his candidacy, Ellison’s ties to Farrakhan in the 1990s were a target for criticism, despite the fact Ellison expressed regret in 2006 that he “did not adequately scrutinize the positions and statements” of the Nation of Islam, and that “they were and are anti-Semitic – and I should have come to that conclusion earlier than I did. I regret that I didn’t. But at no time did I ever share their hateful views, or repeat or approve of their hateful statements directed at Jews, gays or any other group.”

The trepidation, if overblown, was understandable, as was the sigh of relief among many Democrats when his rival Tom Perez was ultimately chosen to lead the party, with Ellison his deputy.

Farrakhan, after all, has made disturbingly hateful and anti-Semitic statements his stock-in-trade, and hasn’t slowed down in recent years. In 2015 he spoke of “wicked ones in the Jewish community that run America, run the government, run the world, own the banks, own the means of communication. They are my enemies!”

The same year, he said publicly that Israelis and “Zionist Jews” were behind the 9/11 attacks. And in 2014 he said, “The Satanic Jews that control everything and mostly everybody, if they are your enemy, then you must be somebody.”

The Trump era hasn’t slowed him down. Recently, Farrakhan tweeted: “Mr. Trump: You say, ‘America first.’ America is never first. Israel is always first. Ask any Jew, even your son-in-law.”

But if Farrakhan is so detestable, where are the voices of those who smeared Ellison when it comes to Manigault?

Where is Alan Dershowitz, who slammed Ellison’s “sordid past associations” with Farrakhan on any cable outlet or publication that would have him?

Again, one can only imagine what would be coming out of the Republican noise machine if an Obama or Clinton aide as closely tied to the president as Manigault is to Trump made such a warm gesture to the controversial minister.

So it is very strange that Manigault is getting a pass. Maybe it’s because she’s having a rough week, fighting rumours that she is being cut from Trump’s inner circle and that he is now betraying members of the African-American community that she worked hard to cultivate.

Or the reason could be that she’s not taken seriously to begin with. After all, the 43-year-old is best known as the ratings magnet villain in the first season of Trump’s reality-TV show “The Apprentice.”

Like many reality stars, she seems to be famous for being famous. Except now she is famous for being that rarest of creatures: an African-American woman who wholeheartedly vouches for Donald Trump.

“I am living the American Dream because of Donald Trump,” she said in December.   “Look at my career, the wealth and exposure that I’ve had; it’s very difficult to make the argument that Donald Trump doesn’t like black people and black women.”

Actually, it’s not that difficult. Just as it’s not hard to make the argument that Farrakhan’s nasty preaching regarding Jews goes far beyond not “liking” them, and should preclude an “open” and “good” relationship with anyone who presumes to represent the White House – no matter who the president is or what party they belong to.

Speaking in Detroit, Farrakhan slams both Democrats and Trump

“Most of you are so hurt because Queen Hillary lost,” Farrakhan said at Joe Louis Arena during the final day of the annual convention of the Nation of Islam. “And some of you have cussed me out because I didn’t vote for her. I didn’t vote for Trump. I knew both of them is the same. You ain’t going to get nothing from either one, but more deceit from Hillary, but more straight talk from Trump.

“He told you, you didn’t have nothing to lose. You’ve been a Democrat all your life and don’t have a damn thing to show for it.”

The crowd cheered in approval at his remarks.

Farrakhan also criticized Trump, but added that African Americans should not stress too much about who’s in power.

“I’m here to talk to all of you who are shaking in your boots” over Trump being president, Farrakhan said. Imitating a person who’s worried about Trump, Farrakhan said: “What are we going to do, the president is bad. He’s the president and he don’t like black people. He don’t like Mexicans. He don’t like Muslims.”

Farrakhan then said: “Maybe so. Who cares? We don’t give a damn what he likes or what he doesn’t like.

“Have no fear … the future is ours. Time for the liberation of our people.”

Founded in Detroit in 1930 by Master Fard Muhammad, the Nation of Islam’s annual convention is called Saviours’ Day and marks Muhammad’s birthday. The Nation of Islam later moved to Chicago, where it is now based. The annual convention has been held in Detroit three times over the past four years.

His talk on Sunday echoed Farrakhan’s views over the years, being highly critical of mainstream political parties, the U.S. government, and what he sees as the shortcomings of the African-American community.

Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam have drawn criticism from groups over the years such as the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish civil rights group, and the Southern Poverty Law Center for comments some see as inflammatory and anti-Semitic.

2015:Nation of Islam’s Farrakhan meets with Eminem in Detroit

The address by Farrakhan was intended to give guidance to Nation of Islam members over the upcoming year. In his talk Sunday, which lasted three hours, Farrakhan reiterated the Nation of Islam’s message of self-reliance and to eventually establish a separate black nation, though he acknowledged many aren’t ready for that.

“God wants you to separate … and give you a nation of your own, but you don’t want that,” he said.

Talking about what he said was the rise of racism and white supremacist groups, Farrakhan said that racial integration has not worked because whites “don’t want to be with you. Can’t you get the message? They don’t want you.”

Farrakhan, who led the Million Man March in 1995, strongly praised the Women’s March on Washington held in late January.

“That was one of the greatest demonstrations I have seen in the history of protests,” Farrakhan said of the Women’s March. “It was a protest against men … who have mistreated women, and put women down.”

Farrakhan criticized men for abusing women, and being immature and irresponsible. ​

“We have nothing to offer women,” he said.

Farrakhan also talked about the issue of crime in Chicago. Farrakhan called upon the community to address the violence, but also warned Trump against sending in the military. Trump had said in a tweet this year he would bring in “the feds” to stop the city’s crime.

Farrakhan also directed remarks to former President Barack Obama: “Let’s have coffee” to talk about ways to help Chicago and avoid having to bring in troops.

While Farrakhan was critical of Trump, he also showed some sympathy toward some of his positions, saying that “Trump is justified in being suspicious of intelligence” agencies.

At the same time, he mocked Trump’s slogan of “Make America Great Again.”

“America will never be made great again,” Farrakhan said. “Her days of greatness are over. The God of justice has come. And America now has to pay for what she has done.”

On stage with Farrakhan during his speech were some local religious and political leaders, including Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones, and state Sen. Bert Johnson, D-Highland Park.

An assistant to Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan also spoke, reading a city proclamation for Saviours’ Day.

Speaking at the event, Jones praised members of the Nation of Islam, urging them to help rebuild Detroit, which Farrakhan has called for in recent years.

“We need your help,” Jones said to the crowd. “Come home. Build your house here.”

Contact Niraj Warikoo: 313-223-4792 or nwarikoo@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @nwarikoo

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  • Clyde Duncan  On 05/08/2017 at 1:23 pm

    Farrakhan will be a guest at the White House?

    I will believe half of it – after I see it – and none of what I hear transpired ….

    I don’t believe it!!

    Add Minister Farrakhan’s name to the list of “unwelcomed guests”!

  • Clyde Duncan  On 05/08/2017 at 11:03 pm

    Canada’s Opinion of USA Reaches Record 35-year Low after Election of Trump

    The USA president’s anti-immigration stance seems to be the reason

    Mythili Sampathkumar New York | Independent UK

    Canadians’ view of the USA have changed for the worse since the election of Donald Trump, according to a new survey.

    Fewer than half of those surveyed have a “favourable view” of the USA, the lowest in the 35 years the survey has been asking the question about the USA-Canada relationship.

    The survey was a follow up to a similar one conducted in October 2016 ahead of the USA election.

    In addition, nearly 20 per cent of survey respondents said they were changing travel plans that included the USA. They cited the political climate as a primary reason for doing so.

    About eight per cent were considering changing travel plans as well.

    The survey of 2,000 people was conducted by Environics Institute for Survey Research and released to the Globe and Mail newspaper.

    Part of the issue seems to be tied to Mr Trump’s anti-immigrant stance. He has issued two versions of a travel ban on people entering the USA from several Muslim majority countries.

    One of his most vocal campaign promises was to build a wall on the nearly 2,000-mile (3,218 km) border with Mexico in an effort to stem illegal immigration.

    He has also threatened to cut off federal funding to sanctuary cities in the USA who have said they would not pursue arrest and deportation of undocumented immigrants within their borders.

    District and federal judges have struck down many of these attempted reforms, but Mr Trump’s actions and repeated rhetoric appear to have an impact on Canadian public view of their neighbours.

    Almost eight in ten respondents said immigration has a positive impact on their country, a number that has not changed much in the last 15 years.

    Six in ten feel there is not too much immigration into their country, bucking the trend toward isolationism and anti-immigration in the USA, UK, and France. This is the highest level in nine years.

    The survey also comes after the country accepted over 40,000 Syrian refugees as well.

    However, the survey also shows geographical differences in attitudes towards immigration, with the economically struggling province of Alberta having a less favourable view towards it. [Mississippi North dat’s Alberta, eh!]

    Also, just over half of the respondents felt “too many immigrants are not adopting Canadian values,” according to Globe and Mail reports.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 05/08/2017 at 11:43 pm

    Sean Spicer’s admission: Trump dismissed Obama’s warning about Michael Flynn as sour grapes

    Aaron Blake | Washington Post

    We’ve known for a while that the White House ignored Sally Yates’s warning about Michael Flynn. Now we come to find out that it also ignored an earlier warning from President Barack Obama himself.

    And the White House’s explanation for it is oh-so-Trump: It viewed the warning as sour grapes from a loser.

    Yates testified Monday that she warned White House counsel Don McGahn in late January about Flynn lying and potentially being compromised — weeks before the situation blew up publicly and Flynn was forced to resign as President Trump’s national security adviser. And earlier Monday, we found out that Obama also warned Trump in their post-election meeting against hiring Flynn, a former Obama appointee.

    In a briefing Monday afternoon, White House press secretary Sean Spicer weighed in on the latter case, and he suggested that Obama’s advice was taken with a grain of salt because Flynn had excoriated Obama during the 2016 campaign. Spicer wasn’t quite so blunt, but it was clear that Obama’s comments were at least somewhat dismissed as the complaints of a loser.

    Here’s what Spicer said:

    SPICER: It’s true that President Obama made it known that he wasn’t exactly a fan of General Flynn’s, which is — frankly, shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, given that General Flynn had worked for President Obama, was an outspoken critic of President Obama’s shortcomings, specifically as it related to his lack of strategy confronting ISIS and other threats around that were facing America.

    QUESTION: If a sitting president raises the name of one individual, why wouldn’t that give the president-elect pause? I understand what you’re saying — the caveat about the fact that he campaigned against Hillary Clinton, et cetera. But wouldn’t that give the incoming president pause?

    SPICER: I don’t know that I agree with your characterization. He made it clear that he wasn’t a fan of his, and I don’t think that should’ve come as a surprise, considering the role that General Flynn played in the campaign, criticizing his …

    QUESTION: So, it didn’t give him any pause at all?

    SPICER: No, I think if you know what we knew at the time, which is that the security clearance that he had, had been re-approved in April of that year, and they took — not only did they re-approve it, but then they took no steps to suspend it. So, the question has to be what did they do if they had real concerns beyond just not having — you know, not liking him for some of the comments that he made.

    Spicer’s point here makes some logical sense: Basically, if Obama knew Flynn was such a liability, why didn’t he do something more than warn his successor about it? As Philip Rucker reports, though, Obama didn’t offer a damning reason, so much as “a confluence of red flags,” according to a former Obama administration official: Flynn’s job performance, his comments about Islam, and his attendance at an event hosted by Russian state-sponsored television station RT in Moscow.

    But the other part of Spicer’s comments says a lot about how the Trump team conducts business. Then-President-elect Trump apparently took a warning from the sitting president of the United States of America not to hire a specific adviser and dismissed it as partisan politics. He didn’t think it was all that serious because he thought Obama was just sore about Flynn attacking him. And he apparently didn’t see it as any reason to increase vetting of Flynn beyond his security clearance.

    In Trump’s black-and-white world, there are only winners and losers; Flynn was a winner, and Obama was a loser bent on evening the score.

    Similar warnings from Yates also were apparently discarded — even though she cautioned that Flynn had lied to the White House and could be vulnerable to blackmail by Russia because of it. She issued that warning on Jan. 26; Flynn wasn’t forced to resign until more than two weeks later, on Feb. 13. By that point, it had become public knowledge that he had spoken with the Russian ambassador about sanctions — potentially illegally — and lied to Vice President Pence about it.

    We don’t know why that warning was ignored, but it seems entirely possible that Yates’s cautions were dismissed for similar reasons as those for Obama’s.

    Yates, after all, was an Obama appointee serving as acting attorney general before Trump’s pick, Jeff Sessions, could be confirmed. And just four days after she issued the warning about Flynn, she directed the Justice Department not to enforce Trump’s controversial travel ban. She was quickly fired.

    How the White House could have failed to heed Yates’s damning warnings about Flynn is particularly puzzling, but I suppose this is as good a theory as any.

    Regardless of whether the actual reason was valid, the explanation for dismissing Obama’s warnings is plenty telling. The White House had multiple, relatively early warnings about how the Flynn situation could blow up in its face. It heeded neither of them — in part, at least, because it declined to take the cautioning seriously — and it wound up paying the price.

    The White House has shown on plenty of occasions that it is hardly the well-oiled machine it sometimes claims to be. This is turning out to be Case Study No. 1 in that.

    If I may add: This gives one insight into how a vindictive man-child thinks! -clyde

  • Clyde Duncan  On 05/09/2017 at 11:56 am

    MSNBC Rachel Maddow

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