Farrakhan In Obamaland

It was Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan's first major address since facing down cancer.

It was in Barack Obama's backyard--his hometown of Chicago. Farrakhan, perhaps the nation's most potent symbol of antisemitism, told a Chicago crowd of 20,000 that Obama is America's next savior.

"This young man is the hope of the entire world that America will change and be made better.... This young man is capturing audiences of black and brown and red and yellow. If you look at Barack Obama's audiences and look at the effect of his words, those people are being transformed."

Farrakhan compared Obama to the religion's founder, Fard Muhammad, who also had a white mother and black father:

"A black man with a white mother became a savior to us.... A black man with a white mother could turn out to be one who can lift America from her fall."

This is not the kind of paean Obama either wants or needs coming from a man Obama has already denounced. Last month, Obama called Farrakhan's antisemitic views "reprehensible" on a conference call with Jewish leaders set up to refute their fears about Obama's alleged pro-Muslim leanings:

Asked why it was sufficient for him to denounce his church's recent praise for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan but not resign from the church itself, Obama repeated his condemnation of Farrakhan's "reprehensible" anti-Semitic views. Then he added what sounds like a promise: "My church has never issued anti-Semitic statements, nor have I heard my pastor utter anything anti-Semitic. If I have, I would have left the church."

But those fears in the Jewish community still exist. And one must wonder why, if Farrakhan truly supports Obama and wants him to become president, he continues to publicly praise Obama in such illustrious tones. Farrakhan knows such praise is the equivalent of pouring toxins into the Obama campaign stream.

And then there's the question: How should Obama respond? He has already denounced Farrakhan, so doing it again and again seems redundant.

On the other hand, if he doesn't respond, voters who may not have heard the first denunciation could question Obama's position on Farrakhan.

By Bonnie Erbe