House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries is under fire for an editorial he wrote when he was a college student attending Binghamton University.
Jeffries defended his uncle, Black studies professor Leonard Jeffries, as well as Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, in the piece. CNN resurfaced the article on “The Lead with Jake Tapper” this week.
Leonard Jeffries was criticized for comments he made in the 1990s about the slave trade and the involvement of “rich Jews.” He also said “a conspiracy, planned and plotted and programmed out of Hollywood” by Jewish movie executives was to blame for disparaging Black people in films. Farrakhan in the past called Judiasim “dirty religion.”
Leonard Jeffries was condemned by New York City Mayor David Dinkins, New York Gov. Mario Cuomo and the Anti-Defamation League for his comments. After a legal battle, the professor left his position at the City University of New York in 1995.
After the men received backlash for their comments, Jeffries defended his uncle and Farrakhan with an article written in 1992 condemning Black conservatives, white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan.
“Dr. Leonard Jeffries and Minister Louis Farrakhan have come under intense fire,” wrote Jeffries. “Where do you think their interests lie? Dr. Jeffries has challenged the existing white supremacist educational system and long-standing distortion of history. His reward has been a media lynching complete with character assassinations and inflammatory erroneous accusations.”
Hakeem Jeffries also compared Black conservatives to “House Negroes.”
“The House Negroes didn’t labor in the field, they were domestic servants. The House Negro was dressed up and led to believe that he or she was better than those in the field. Most importantly, the House Negro sought to emulate the white master,” he wrote. “The House Negro of the slavery era and the Black conservative of today are both opportunists interested in securing some measure of happiness for themselves within the existing social order.”
Soon after he was elected to Congress in 2012, Jeffries told The Wall Street Journal back in 2013 that he had a “vague recollection” of the controversy surrounding his uncle and Farrakhan but that he was away at college at the time and frequently referred back to statements given to the WSJ when asked about the controversy.
“And so when a lot of the controversy took place and my brother and I were away at school,” he said. “There was no Internet during that era and I can’t even recall a daily newspaper in the Binghamton, N.Y., area but it wasn’t covering the things that the New York Post and Daily News were at the time.”
CNN reports that Jeffries knew more about the controversy than he let on and even invited his uncle to speak at his school while he was on the board of the university’s Black Student Union. Leonard Jeffries accepted the invitation and reiterated his comments about Jewish moguls in Hollywood being “anti-Black” to a crowd of 800 people. He also defended himself from the backlash he received from the Jewish community by comparing them to Nazis.
“It’s ironic that members of the Jewish community felt compelled to take a position that is antidemocratic and….pro-Nazi in its viciousness,” he said.
A spokesperson for Jeffries, Christiana Stephenson, told the outlet that the House Minority Leader does not agree with his uncle’s views.
“Leader Jeffries has consistently been clear that he does not share the controversial views espoused by his uncle over 30 years ago,” said Stephenson.
Conservatives were quick to call Jeffries an anti-Semite. Rep. Byron Donalds, a Black Republican representing Florida’s 19th district, challenged Jeffries to a debate.
“I’m over the phony apologies. Let’s have an honest debate about Black conservatism vs. Black liberalism,” he wrote. “Let’s have a real conversation about whose policies will unleash not just Black America but all of America. That’s the debate the people want. I’m ready, @hakeemjeffries.”
Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida defended Jeffries and noted his embodiment of the Jewish values of love and kindness and his leadership “in the face of hate.”
“As native NYers, Leader @RepJeffries and I became fast, dear friends. I saw how he embodied the Jewish values of tikkun olam (repairing the world) and gemilut hassadim (giving love and kindness). While others foment antisemitism, Hakeem Jeffries always leads in the face of hate.”
Minnesota Democratic Rep. Dean Benson Phillips also defended the House Minority Leader and called Jeffries one of the “committed defenders of the Jewish community.”
“Leader @RepJeffries spent an hour with me on my first day in Congress in 2019. I nominated him for Speaker and now serve on his leadership team,” he wrote. “Few Americans are more committed defenders of the Jewish community, and all communities subject to hate, than Hakeem Jeffries. #truth.”
Others also defended Jeffries on social media and noted his dedication to fighting hate.
“More than 30 years have passed since that college op-ed,” wrote one Twitter user. “If Jeffries shared the antisemitic views of his uncle, we would certainly know it by now. Instead, it seems that he has vigorously condemned all forms of racism and bigotry throughout his political career.”
“Someone on the GOP side is trying to dirty up Hakeem Jeffries. It’s not gonna work,” said @juaelz1.
“Dusting off 30-year-old stories? …someone has decided Jeffries has to go. Wonder who they’ve picked as the new minority leader?” Wrote RightWing_Vet.
4 thoughts on “‘Someone Has Decided Jeffries Has to Go’: Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries Faces Backlash for Resurfaced 1992 Op-Ed Backing Uncle Who Said Rich Jews Contributed to Slavery, Plotted Against Black Actors ”
This is the story of a qualified black who cannot serve in the FBI because he stole a candy from his teacher’s candy jar when he was 3. They will always find something on a successful black man, no matter how good.
MLK said that liberals and Jews are the racists.
Mr. Jeffries is the best person we have today in politics I think he should run for president. Infact I would knock every door in America if I could to make my dream a reality. Please leave Mr. Jeffries alone and allow him to be the awesome leader that he has grown to become.
If you’re going to quote the bigoted hater, do it correctly. Farrakhan said that Judaism is a “gutter” religion and Jeffries is his staunch supporter. Spare us you phoney apologies, Mr Jeffries. The world knows who and what you are. You fool no one, except for your hating self.