Only people tortured by a terrible thirst could have been assembled in such numbers at the behest of so detestable a demagogue as Louis Farrakhan, the white-bashing, Jew-hating, violence-threatening, sexist, homophobic leader of The Million Man March.
The thirst is understandable. It’s a thirst for leadership, and for hope of breaking the cycle of poverty, despair, and self-destruction that so disproportionately afflicts African-Americans.
But how much hope can be derived from an event at which (according to a Washington Post survey of 1,047 people) 87 percent of the participants queried had a "favorable" view of Farrakhan? This is a man who just days before had bared his fangs by smearing Jews as "bloodsuckers," a man whose history is littered with the vilest kind of hate speech and visions of violence against Jews and other whites.
And how much reconciliation and atonement can be derived from an event at which souvenir stands did a brisk business in T-shirts celebrating the acquittal of a black man who (the overwhelming evidence shows) had viciously murdered two white victims?
To understand the void now being filled by the ascension of Farrakhan, we might start with a look at President Bill Clinton’s speech on Oct. 16 (Farrakhan’s big day). While making some reasonable (if pallid) points about the need for interracial understanding, the president displayed the sort of pious hypocrisy that has stripped him of any standing to exercise moral leadership when he lamented "unequal treatment" of black people by the criminal justice system: