Jewish World Review Oct. 20, 2000 / 21 Tishrei, 5761
http://www.jewishworldreview.com -- IT SEEMS to me, to paraphrase Shakespeare, that which we call a crackpot, by any other name should sound just as loopy.
Unfortunately, that's not the way the world works. We all know that poor people are "crazy," while rich people are "eccentric." Weak people are defined by their insanity, strong people are revered in spite of, or because of, their weirdness.
For example, if Oliver Stone were a handyman and sat next to you on a bus, you'd switch seats. But while such double standards are bad enough on the personal level, they are extremely dangerous at the political level. Which is why the continued kid-glove treatment of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan is so disturbing.
Oh sure, journalists are quick to point out that Farrakhan has a long record of making anti-Semitic and racist remarks. We've all heard how Farrakhan has praised Hitler, called Judaism a "gutter religion" and the "Synagogue of Satan" and denounced the white man as the anti-Christ.
We've even been informed of Farrakhan's penchant for letting subordinates like Khalid Muhammad say the really nasty stuff. Muhammad called John Paul II a "no-good cracker" Pope, just to name one of thousands of disgusting comments.
Other people in the Farrakhan orbit have said the Vatican is run by "a lot of white faggot boys" and described the 12 apostles depicted in a painting of the Last Supper as "a whole lot of white faggot boys" and "America should be glad that every black man is not on a killing spree for all the suffering they have done."
But before I run out of space reprinting quotes anyone can get from the Anti-Defamation League, the real news isn't that Farrakhan is a bigot who keeps the company of bigots. It's that he's loony tunes.
Just this last Sunday, the day before the Million Family March (which fizzled spectacularly), Tim Russert of "Meet the Press" interviewed Farrakhan. Yes, Russert held Farrakhan's feet to the fire about his latest anti-Semitic comments (something about Joe Lieberman having dual loyalty to Israel and Jews running Hollywood).
But why give Farrakhan a chance to play games, spew more bile and impress the impressionable by saying controversial stuff? It seems that most interviewers want to attack the hate talk. That's certainly admirable.
But Russert et al. could do a lot more for the common good if they asked Farrakhan to explain why he thinks he has ridden in a flying saucer.
Now, to be fair, there is a whole lot in Nation of Islam theology (which is nothing like Orthodox Islam) about some odd stuff. And to be even more fair, every "religion" sounds pretty weird when put under a rationalist microscope. So, put aside the fact that the Nation of Islam holds that an evil black scientist created the "blue-eyed devil" white man in a lab accident 6,600 years ago (for some reason the calendar never seems to flip to, like, 6,603 years ago).
Put aside the fact that the Nation of Islam believes that whitey will be punished by a huge, city-sized, flying spaceship that will rain destruction down upon white people only. Forget the fact that there's only two and half months left in the century before that death-dealing spaceship will be past due. As odd as it sounds, Farrakhan has reiterated this in the press, including in a major profile in The New Yorker a few years ago.
Putting all that aside, Farrakahn believes Elijah Muhammad, the (by all accounts deceased) former leader of the Nation of Islam, is living on a spaceship circling the planet. Also, a few years after Elijah "died," the spaceship picked up Farrakhan and the two men had a nice chat with each other. Afterward, Farrakhan says the spaceship let him off near Washington, D.C.
The only major television journalist I've ever seen query Farrakhan about this stuff was Ted Koppel, host of ABCs "Nightline," in 1996. Koppel asked him about the spaceship stuff, saying, "It sounds like gibberish, but maybe you can explain it."
Farrakhan didn't back off. The spiritual leader explained that the huge spaceship is "over the heads of us in North America, and soon you shall see these (spaceships) over the major cities of America." This fact is being kept "above top-secret by the United States government."
Farrakhan didn't stop there. Offended at the "gibberish" remark, he fell back on some hard science: "And if it were gibberish, they made an awful lot of money, Mr. Koppel, on that movie called 'Independence Day' --- it flooded the theaters." Koppel conceded this point, but also alerted Farrakhan to the fact that "Independence Day" wasn't a true story.
Next time Farrakhan is on "Meet the Press," I, for one, would prefer to hear if Farrakhan thinks "Independence Day" was real-life documentary. I've heard enough of what he thinks of