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When was the last time you read anything about Louis Farrakhan? My guess is that it was in a column by Richard Cohen of the Washington Post.
Cohen has been demanding that public figures denounce Farrakhan for at least 24 years, going back to 1984 when he wrote a column calling upon Jesse Jackson to do so. During the 2000 presidential campaign, Cohen criticized Smokin’ Joe Lieberman for not criticizing Farrakhan, at least to his satisfaction, and a year later he attacked the appointment of Maya Angelou to the board of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum because she had spoken at the Million Man March.
“Do not misunderstand,” Cohen wrote. “I am not accusing Angelou of either antisemitism or racism–the twin pillars of Farrakhan’s demagoguery–or of being a supporter of his. I am saying, though, that when asked to appear at Farrakhan’s Million Man March, she did not say no, as some principled African Americans did, nor did she offer any sort of rebuke.”
Thus Cohen’s column today demanding that Barack Obama renounce Farrakhan was all but inevitable. Never mind that Obama has no ties to Farrakhan and has never said anything favorable about him. Column inches need filling and, according to Cohen, Obama must publicly reject Farrakhan–because Obama’s minister at Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., has spoken favorably about the leader of the Nation of Islam.
Many of Farrakhan’s public comments are disgusting, but this is tripe even by Cohen’s own lamentable standards. Just as he did in the case of Angelou, Cohen acknowledged that “nothing in Obama’s record suggests he harbors anti-Semitic views.” He then goes on to smear Obama by (indirect) association with Farrakhan and says that if Obama doesn’t speak out against Farrakhan, the candidate will confirm Cohen’s suspicions that he has no “mettle” and “that he is a fog of a man.”
Beyond the smear job, Cohen might want to go back and read his column on Angelou, in which he generously forgave Jesse Jackson and Congressman Charles Rangel for speaking at the Million Man March. But, he wrote, “Angelou was a different matter. She is no politician or political leader. She would not have suffered at the polls if she told Farrakhan to get into his flying saucer and get the hell off the National Mall.”
“Cohen,” I wrote back in 2006, “can be an absolutely fierce bulldog—when he’s attacking soft targets like Louis Farrakhan, suicide bombers, or Nazis.” If nothing else, the man is predictable.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”