I am a subscriber to and a big fan of The Nation. I'm also a fan of the work of Eric Alterman. But I feel I must correct something in this piece, something that has been widely disseminated. It's a mistake that has become accepted, and although I expect as much from the corporate media, I expect better from Eric Alterman.
I worked in television news for many years and was doing that when Rev. Louis Farrakhan delivered the speech in which he supposedly called Judaism "a gutter religion." I got a videotape copy of the speech and watched it. Farrakhan did not call Judaism "a gutter religion."
In that part of the speech in question, Rev. Farrakhan was condemning the treatment of Palestinians by Israel. He said anyone who oppressed other people and used their bible or religious teachings to justify such treatment was practicing "dirty religion." The point in context, although it referred to Israeli actions, was not about Judaism only, nor was it limited to Jews. And he said "dirty religion" not "gutter religion."
As for the Hitler quote, which was from a different, later speech, in context Rev. Farrakhan did say Hitler was evil. And it did not, in context, sound like he was holding Hitler up as someone to be admired.
I make no case as to whether or not Rev. Farrakhan is an anti-Semite. I hold no brief for Rev. Farrakhan. I simply think the truth matters. That's why I read The Nation and respect the work of Eric Alterman.
Santa Maria, CA
Jul 16 2008 - 9:39pm