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Conservatives and Republicans Should Listen To Armstrong Williams On Minister Farrakhan

For at least three years, I have known of syndicated columnist and talk-show host Armstrong Williams' efforts to make clear to other conservatives, that their negative knee-jerk reaction to Minister Farrakhan is not in their best interests and represents a lost opportunity for both Republicans and conservatives who share points of agreement with the Muslim leader on issues of morality, self-help, family values and the role of religion in politics and who have been unsuccessful at making inroads with the Black community.

So it came as little surprise to me when I learned that Armstrong Williams had penned a column in support of Monday, October 16th's Million Family March. Armstrong has publicly disagreed with attempts, in recent weeks, by Republican Party Chairman Jim Nicholson and the Republican Jewish Coalition to demonize Minister Farrakhan and specifically the possibility that he and Senator Joseph Lieberman would meet prior to the Million Family March.

Armstrong thinks that the efforts of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), as well as those of certain members of the Republican Party to stop a dialogue between Minister Farrakhan and any politician who would like to meet with him, are misguided and inappropriate behavior for responsible leaders. Hopefully someone on the right will listen to what Armstrong has to say.

Here is Armstrong's column, hot off the presses, in support of the Million Family March:

Million Family March: The Broader View

By Armstrong Williams

That sage observer, William Hazlitt, once noted: "We illuminate our own streak of fortune by making those around us seem as dark as possible." In other words, we nourish our own sense of individuality, by noticing the collection of errors that is the rest of humanity.

The fat man understands something about himself when he gazes at a skinny man and sees little of his outward self reflected back. Same for the rich and poor, the sexes, the races. Even if all we understand is some tribal instinct , this concept of "us" and "them" helps give order to our surroundings.

Exhibit A: The Middle East, where hate is like a wall that the Palestinians and Israelis have been leaning against for lifetimes. Time and again, peaceful dialogue and reconciliation fall by the wayside of tribal instincts, causing both groups to explode in such a blinding anger, that they neglect the simplest fact of their existence: they are, in the words of Albert Camus, "condemned to live together."

"The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong," said Mahatma Gandhi. Perhaps what he meant was that it has always been easier for human to hate or destroy, than to create. Hate gives us a clear identity. Hate nourishes our egos-when we hate, we are truly the measure for our surroundings. When we hate, we need not admit that "we are like other people." Therefore, we need not seek the forgiveness of others. Hate is always self-justifying.

Exhibit B: The Million Family March. On October 16, Nation of Islam leader, Louis Farrakhan, will lead a rally dedicated to affirming of the familial bond as the bedrock of our society.

Even as minister Farrakhan unites an estimated 1.7 million onlookers under the common goal of strengthening our families, it will be easy for some to reflexively snort and snicker. Already, pundits have begun studding heir columns with talk of how Farrakhan's divisive past should preclude him from leading such a rally. Plainly, Farrakhan offends their tribal instincts. Reflexively, they cringe at the notion of joining together with Farrakhan in a message of unity. Always, it is easier to mock than to admit a commonality.

To them, to all of us: Stand back for a moment, and let the bitterness flake away to reveal the greater good: There along the nation's capitol, where Reverend Martin Luther King's baritone range out with a message of hope and racial unity, Minister Farrakhan will offer a simple yet sublime message-family unity under God is the oldest and most fundamental building block of our society.

Farrakhan will be flanked on October 16th by Baptist ministers, Catholic bishops, Evangelicals, Lutherans, Imams and Buddhists, males and females. "I haven't seen an opportunity like this since the days of Malcolm X and Dr. King," said Rev. Dr. Milton Reid, perhaps referring to Rev. King's dream of diverse minds working together to build and affirm human dignity.

When Dr. Chang Shik Yang, of the Family Federation for World Peace, was asked how he can support the million family march his answer was straightforward: "Because our families are the lifeblood of our nation. The mightiest empires in history rose and fell not by the might of their armies, or the authority of their governments, but by the strength of their family life, and the moral character that arise from strong families."

Ghandi rightly noted that it takes strength to join together, to purge our tribal instincts for the greater good. It is through the friction of such diverse minds, that we can haul humanity along and help stave off the breakdown of family values.

It is the business of small minds to recoil from such a duty.

Thursday, October 12, 2000

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