|Jews in a Synagogue, by Rembrandt (Metropolitan Museum of Art)
You must always check the date on news stories popping up on Facebook. It’s embarrassing to register shock — James Garner dead? Oh no! — only to be informed that he passed away in 2014.
So a week ago, when I noticed a CNN report headlined “Nation of Islam leader Farrakhan delivers anti-Semitic speech,” the first thing I did was see whether he delivered the speech in 2012 or 2002. I mean, talk about an evergreen headline, right?
Feb. 25, 2018. Nation of Islam Saviours’ Day. In Chicago. Prompting me to then wonder if the local papers covered it. Nope. Which makes sense. A big city, this, statewide elections looming, plus the continual drip-drip-drip of corrosive national news, like acid leaking out of a car battery. Where on the list of priorities would you put an 84-year-old cult leader saying what he always says?
Not that any reporter worth his salt wouldn’t leap to attend a Farrakhan rally. I highly recommend the experience, having drawn that short straw years ago. I’m glad I did. Louis Farrakhan is a powerful speaker, in the classic Fidel Castro model: carrying on for hours and hours, puffing and preening. He holds his audience rapt, with occasional trips to the sales tables to fortify themselves with bean cakes.
It’s quite a show. You can say a lot in three hours, and Farrakhan does: about dignity and self-reliance and power, heavily spiced with a farrago of conspiracy theories. Eventually, he reaches for the Jews like a man scratching a rash. The latest instance classic third-person Farrakhan:
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