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The Strange Life of the Late Fred Newman

Yet, this individual was a major political player, turned to regularly by mainstream skilled politicians. In 2005, reports surfaced about a growing new tie between the mayor and Newman. On May 28th, The New York Times wrote a report that covered up much about the alliance of Bloomberg and Newman. Written by reporter Michael Slackman, it was appropriately titled “In New York, Fringe Politics Is Steadily Finding Its Way Into the Mainstream.” Referring to Newman and Fulani’s creation of the Independence Party of New York, the article noted that “many of the state’s top political leaders [are] eager to court their latest organization.” As it pointed out,

For politicians like Mr. Bloomberg, the Independence Party’s backing is an invaluable asset in a city where the vast majority of voters are registered Democrats. It will give voters the option of casting their ballot for the Mayor on the Independence line instead of the Republican line.

The problem for the mayor is that Fulani refused to denounce her stated view that Jews “had to sell their souls to acquire Israel and are required to do the dirtiest work of capitalism” and had to “function as mass murderers of people of color.” The story explained Bloomberg’s alliance with Newman and Fulani simply as an understandable “one of political convenience.” That supposedly settles the issue, although one has to question why so much was made before the 2008 campaign of Sarah Palin’s attendance at a rally which Pat Buchanan attended years earlier. That, and the fact that as governor she welcomed him to the state and, for the occasion, put on a Buchanan button. That sin was unforgivable -- unlike Bloomberg’s turning to Newman and Fulani and simply saying his alliance could continue since he didn’t have to agree with everything they said.

The Times' story, however, left out much that would have painted Newman in a far darker light. The President of The American Jewish Committee, E. Robert Goodkind, wrote the paper a letter that it never printed. In it, Goodkind wrote that the story “ severely understates the highly toxic level of their extremism and bigotry.” Goodkind pointed out that Newman’s group which Bloomberg aligned with supported Qadaffi and Libya, praised the terrorist group Abu Jihad, and produced a play about black-Jewish relations in Crown Heights that was highly anti-Semitic. They ran one Arab candidate on their party’s ticket who opposed Holocaust education in New York schools because he said that it was “an attempt by the Zionists to use the city educational system for their evil propaganda purposes.” Goodkind concluded by writing: “ The excuse that Lenora Fulani is only one member of a larger party is a fiction. If David Duke were a leading figure in a Louisiana third party, no one in New York would accept such an excuse from politicians eager to take that ballot line.”

By omitting such information in their current obituary, the paper again downplays how bizarre it is that a figure like Newman managed to become a political power broker in New York City politics, and how even a Jewish mayor like Michael Bloomberg could look the other way in order to gain his support at a critical moment.

In the old heyday of New Deal and Fair Deal politics in New York, the legitimate  labor leader Alex Rose, head of the now defunct Hat, Cap and Millinery Workers union, created the Liberal Party, a political formation that for decades was the choice of much of New York’s independent voters to cast their ballots for candidates. This, despite the fact that the endorsed candidate was probably a Democrat and at times a Republican. There was nothing cult like about its leaders or its organization; it was a legitimate step to create an alternative for liberal New Yorkers to cast their ballot for a candidate they supported and still maintain their independence from both major parties. As such, the Liberal Party often functioned as the make or break line that a candidate needed to win a place on its ballot to win a New York City election.

How sad that now, in the new era, a Marxist-Leninist cult party has become the replacement for the old traditional Liberal Party, and that the old grey lady, the would-be paper of record, cannot see to tell the full truth about the strange politics of Fred Newman.