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Pennsylvania Is The Heartland Of The Nation (Of Islam)

On the eve of the Pennsylvania primary, video of the state's governor Ed Rendell heaping praise on the Nation of Islam and its leader, Louis Farrakhan, went viral through the blogosphere yesterday. The context is a 1997 rally for racial … Read More

By / April 22, 2008

On the eve of the Pennsylvania primary, video of the state's governor Ed Rendell heaping praise on the Nation of Islam and its leader, Louis Farrakhan, went viral through the blogosphere yesterday. The context is a 1997 rally for racial reconciliation that Philadelphia NoI leader Rodney Mohammed and Rendell co-organized and Farrakhan keynoted, back when Rendell was mayor of Philadelphia. Given the prominence the six-degrees-of-Louis-Farrakhan gambit has taken during this campaign, it's a bit jarring to watch as Rendell thanks the "Nation of Islam in Philadelphia…for what you stand for" and goes on for a full six and a half minutes extolling the NoI for its promotion of family values, its efforts at curbing drug use, its various projects in support of education, and its mission of "ending racism and bigotrythroughout the United States" [my emphasis, though you could infer it from the speech]. Rendell gives Farrakhan as heartfelt an encomium as one can expect from a Philadelphia politician, explaining how "my respect for him has grown, for the intensity of his beliefs, for the decency of his soul, and for the strength of his courage." And he climaxes by specifically striking back at those who criticized him for attending the NoI rally, arguing that anyone serious about healing "the central problems facing our country" should have shown up to "talk about our differences and make progress."