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History Lessons


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Several readers, at least one or two of them presumably not in the employ of the Democratic National Committee, took the Monitor to task for suggesting that Sen. Hillary Clinton was a pioneer in the art of elevating a scamp like Al Sharpton to the status of esteemed statesman.

The common plaint was that Hillary wasn’t even a senator yet when local pols like Chuck Schumer, Eliot Engel and Mark Green were hoofing it uptown to be seen and photographed in Sharpton’s ample shade, so it was simply wrong – and terribly mean-spirited – for the Monitor to have used her as an example of political expediency at its most shameful.

Mean-spirited? That’s a subjective call. But wrong? Let’s look at the Monitor of Jan. 28, 2000, for a contemporaneous account of Senate candidate Hillary Clinton in action:

Not only did Mrs. Clinton become the latest Democrat to hop a limo up to Harlem to bend the knee to Rev. Al Sharpton, her pander routine backfired terribly when one of Sharpton’s brethren in Christ, the Rev. Charles Norris, bestowed his own special blessing on the Martin Luther King Day convocation by referring to a couple of former employers, one of whom had fired him, as “those two Jews.”

The first lady, who was not in the room at the time of Norris’s remarks but was informed of them before she got up to speak, merely added a tepid throw-away line on anti-Semitism – which made no specific reference to Rev. Norris or his remarks – to her prepared speech.

The New York Observer, in an editorial titled “Is Hillary Supporting Jew Haters?” opined that “New Yorkers should count themselves fortunate that for every one of Hillary Clinton’s carefully choreographed appearances, such as her recent turn on David Letterman’s show, there are also unscripted moments that allow voters to take the true measure of the candidate.”

The Observer suggested that rather than react in her proper and mealy-mouthed fashion to Norris’s anti-Semitic rhetoric, Mrs. Clinton should have found it in herself to “do what any decent person would have done, namely, politely tell the audience that she would not dignify such statements by her presence and walk off the stage.”

In another stinging editorial, the Washington Post recalled that the first lady had excused her mute reaction to Suha Arafat’s anti-Israel invective by claiming she didn’t want to jeopardize prospects for peace or create an “international incident when I was abroad.”

But this time, the Post archly noted, “Hillary Clinton was home in America, where she is free to denounce bigotry without upsetting any peace talks or negotiations…. If candidate Clinton cares what anti-Semites think, what should the rest of New York think of her?”

The Monitor stands vindicated.

Let’s change the subject with a pop quiz. Name the New York mayor of whom the following was said during his terms in office:

● “[The mayor] is a man who cherishes vindictiveness – getting even – as his chief political currency; who verbally brutalizes friends and enemies alike; who boasts that he has made people cry, sweat, twitch, and turn gray; who demands absolute loyalty from those around him, but thinks nothing of publicly humiliating the few dedicated souls who have supported him longest and most unwaveringly; who believes it is more blessed to give ulcers than to get them.”

● “I see [the mayor] as an instigator of the climate of racial fear in this city.”

● “He has been remarkably adept at polarizing blacks and Jews, exploiting their pain and vulnerability, opening and deepening their inner wounds, nourishing their resentments and dreams of revenge…”

With Rudy Giuliani all but an officially declared presidential candidate, expect to hear this kind of pretentious and fairly nonsensical stuff on a regular basis from the leftists and race hucksters and civil liberties zealots who detested and opposed Giuliani throughout his mayoralty.

Back to our little quiz. The subject of the above-quoted comments (from, respectively, authors Arthur Browne, Dan Collins and Michael Goodwin; the Rev. Calvin Butts; and CUNY professor Marshall Berman) was not, as most readers doubtlessly assumed, Rudy Giuliani. The correct answer: Edward Irving Koch.

Some food for thought as the presidential campaign shifts into high gear and the season of the demagogues is almost upon us.

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


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As someone who for the past fifteen years has been writing a column that largely focuses on the news media, I’ve read what is no doubt an altogether unhealthy number of books on the subject. Most of them were instantly forgettable while some created a brief buzz but failed to pass the test of time. And then there were those select few that merited a permanent spot on the bookshelf.

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Shakespeare had it right. The evil that men do indeed lives after them. Case in point: Nahum Goldmann, who served in a variety of Jewish and Zionist organizational leadership posts from the 1920s through the 1970s.

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