NEW YORK – US Rep. Danny Davis denounced Louis Farrakhan on Thursday for an antisemitic speech he delivered more than a week ago, after initially expressing support for the long-time hate preacher.
The Democrat lawmaker from Illinois described Nation of Islam leader Farrakhan’s remarks, uttered at the group’s annual Savior's Day event in Chicago, as bigoted, and said that he opposes all forms racism.
“There have been attempts to question my commitment to these principles because I did not specifically single out the views and remarks of Minister Louis Farrakhan,” Davis said on Thursday evening, referring to an earlier statement in which he opposed “all forms of hatred, bigotry and separatism based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, disability or language including specifically antisemitism.
“So let me be clear: I reject, condemn and oppose Minister Farrakhan’s views and remarks regarding the Jewish people and the Jewish religion,” Davis said in his statement.
The Jewish Democratic Council of America issued a statement, welcoming the Davis' clarification. "We appreciate Rep. Danny Davis’ (D-IL) statement last night denouncing the anti-Semitic rhetoric of hate preacher Louis Farrakhan. Farrakhan for decades has directed vitriol at Jews, women, LGBT people and other groups. We all, especially our leaders, must stand firmly against his bigoted words, and those of all hate-mongers," the statement read.
"Rep. Davis listened to the concerns of the Jewish community, and responded appropriately, with a strong repudiation of Farrakhan’s anti-Semitism, as the congressman long has on all anti-Semitism.
"Now, as always, we seek understanding and solidarity among different ethnic, racial and religious communities. African Americans and Jewish Americans have a long history of working together to fight injustice and create a more equitable future for everyone in this country. We are committed to preserving and further strengthening this relationship, and resolving misunderstandings in a spirit of good-will and unity."
The condemnation came more than a week after Farrakhan described the US Jewish community as his “enemy,” and said that “Jews were responsible for all of this filth and degenerate behavior that Hollywood is putting out turning men into women and women into men.
“White folks are going down. And Satan is going down. And Farrakhan, by God’s grace, has pulled the cover off of that Satanic Jew and I’m here to say your time is up, your world is through,” Farrakhan added during his March 1 address.
Saviours’ Day is a holiday of the Nation of Islam commemorating the birth of its founder, Wallace Fard Muhammad.
Despite the outlandish remarks, Davis told the conservative news outlet The Daily Caller
days later that Farrakhan’s antisemitism does not concern him enough to disavow Farrakhan.
“I know Farrakhan, been knowing him for years and years and years and years and years, and every once in a while some writer or somebody will I guess try to think of something to say about Farrakhan, but nah, my world is so much bigger than any of that,” Davis told The Daily Caller.
In a separate interview last month with The Daily Caller
, Davis praised Farrakhan as an “outstanding human being.”
Those statements drew condemnation from the Anti-Defamation League, which had previously accepted Davis’s claim that The Daily Caller
has misquoted him.
Davis’s denouncement came shortly after the Jewish Democratic Council of America issued a stinging rebuke of the long-time lawmaker, saying his failure to condemn the black nationalist leader was “abhorrent” and offensive.
“Minister Louis Farrakhan is an antisemite. Period. That Congressman Danny Davis (D-IL) lauds Farrakhan as ‘an outstanding human being’ is abhorrent and offends our community to the core,” the JDCA said.
“Farrakhan has a long history of antisemitic, racist, sexist and anti-LGBT rhetoric. There is no place for him in respectable political discourse. JDCA will not support anyone, including a member of Congress, who condones a person spewing such hatred. We must confront and condemn antisemitism and other forms of bigotry wherever and whenever they occur.
“We hope that Rep. Davis will agree with us, and rethink his praise for Farrakhan, especially given the congressman’s own good record of speaking out against antisemitism,” the Jewish Democratic Council of America statement added.
J Street, a progressive Jewish Middle East policy group whose political action committee lists Davis as an endorsed candidate, praised Davis’s latest statement condemning Farrakhan.
“Antisemitism is a scourge and Louis Farrakhan is a shameless peddler of it, for which there is no excuse or justification. We condemn his record of antisemitism and other forms of hatred unequivocally,” it said in a statement.
“We expect Representative Davis and all other members of Congress we endorse to reject Farrakhan’s deeply disturbing views of the Jewish people.”JTA contributed to this report.