Washington Babylon — January 15, 2008, 2:07 pm

Would Louis Farrakhan Exist Without Richard Cohen?

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.

Share
Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

Commentary November 17, 2015, 6:41 pm

Shaky Foundations

The Clintons’ so-called charitable enterprise has served as a vehicle to launder money and to enrich family friends.

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Get access to 165 years of
Harper’s for only $45.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

March 2017

City of Gilt

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Tyranny of the Minority

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Texas is the Future

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Family Values

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Itchy Nose

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Black Like Who?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Article
Texas is the Future·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

Illustration (detail) by John Ritter
Post
The Forty-Fifth President·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

Photograph (detail) by Philip Montgomery
Article
Itchy Nose·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

Artwork (detail) © The Kazuto Tatsuta/Kodansha Ltd
Article
A Matter of Life·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

Photograph (detail) by Edwin Tse
Article
Black Like Who?·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

I first heard the name Barack Obama in the spring of 2004, while visiting my mother in Chicago. As we sat around the kitchen table early one spring morning, I noticed a handsome studio portrait among the pictures, lists, cards, and other totems of family life fastened to the refrigerator door. “Who’s the guy with the ears?” I asked, assuming he was some distant relative or family friend I didn’t know or else had forgotten. “Barack Obama,” she answered with a broad smile. “He’s running for Senate, but he’s going to be the first black president.”

Photograph © Jon Lowenstein/NOOR

Number of Supreme Court justices in 1984 who voted against legalizing the recording of TV broadcasts by VCR:

4

A Spanish design student created a speech-recognition pillow into which the restive confide their worries, which are then printed out in the morning.

Greece evacuated 72,000 people from the town of Thessaloniki while an undetonated World War II–era bomb was excavated from beneath a gas station.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

Who Goes Nazi?

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

By

"It is an interesting and somewhat macabre parlor game to play at a large gathering of one’s acquaintances: to speculate who in a showdown would go Nazi. By now, I think I know. I have gone through the experience many times—in Germany, in Austria, and in France. I have come to know the types: the born Nazis, the Nazis whom democracy itself has created, the certain-to-be fellow-travelers. And I also know those who never, under any conceivable circumstances, would become Nazis."

Subscribe Today