Recently, at a faith breakfast doubling as a campaign event, 2020 Democrat presidential candidate Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) announced that he would be willing to meet with infamous anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, acknowledging that he was “very familiar with Louis Farrakhan and his beliefs and his values.”
Booker’s comments, while alarming, serve as a steady reminder that the American Democratic Party does not regard anti-Semitism as a form of ethnic hatred, but as a mere difference of opinion. Indeed, Booker’s speech at the breakfast in Columbia, South Carolina provides a roadmap for the type of Farrakhan whitewashing we might come to expect from 2020 Democrats attempting to justify their continued correspondence with Farrakhan (outlined here are numerous connections between Farrakhan and the Democrats).
“I live in Newark so we have famous Mosque 25, we have Nation of Islam there,” Booker stated at the breakfast. “As mayor I met with lots of folks talking to [Farrakhan]. I have heard Minister Farrakhan’s speeches for a lot of my life, so I don’t feel like I need to do that, but I’m not one of these people that says I wouldn’t sit down with anybody to hear what they have to say. But I live on a neighborhood where I’m getting guys on the streets offering and selling his works. I am very familiar with Minister Louis Farrakhan and his beliefs and his values.”
Booker’s blasé discussion of Farrakhan reminds American voters that Democrats are wholly unserious about tackling anti-Semitism within their own ranks. Booker had been responding to an audience member who had specifically asked whether Booker would reject speaking with Farrakhan on the basis of Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism.
Instead of using his response as an opportunity to offer a full-throated condemnation of Nation of Islam leader, Booker took the opportunity to normalize the rabid anti-Semite, referring to Farrakhan’s “beliefs and his values” as if they were a matter of philosophical debate.
Farrakhan is infamous for his anti-Semitic, anti-white, and homophobic rhetoric. He has been known for blaming Jews for 9/11 and for referring to them as “termites;” for calling whites the “anti-Christ;” and for accusing the “wicked Jews” of “promoting lesbianism, homosexuality.” His list of grotesque absurdities over several decades could fill multiple columns.
New Jersey has a Jewish population that is three times the national level. Booker would be wise to consider that his constituents are the repeated targets of Farrakhan’s gross rhetoric. Rather than advocating on behalf of those within in his state, he opted to intellectualize that hatred and present it as a mere value system.
Booker’s comments are just one more indication that the Democratic Party has no intention of confronting the creeping anti-Semitism that has infected its ranks. The reason Booker felt comfortable normalizing Farrakhan is the same reason Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) felt comfortable praising contact with anti-Semite enabler Jeremy Corbyn; the same reason the Democrats have done nothing to remove Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from the House Foreign Affairs Committee, despite her anti-Semitic comments; the same reason the Women’s March has remained a quasi-arm of the Democrat Party, despite its ties to Farrakhan; and the same reason the left-wing boycott divestment sanctions movement has flourished on college campuses, despite numerous alleged ties to anti-Semitic terrorist organizations.
The reason lies in the fact that Democrats regard anti-Semitism as a socially acceptable difference of opinion, as in, “You like Jews, and I don’t.” To Democrats, it isn’t a centuries-old form of ethnic hatred, but an unconventional yet viable political stance. Commentary like Booker’s, sadly, solidifies this interpretation.