Prefacing his Oct. 13 Newsmax column's straw-man attack on the claim that "criticism of the president’s healthcare proposal is based on race" -- no evidence is provided that anyone has actually made that assertion, only a nebulous assertion that "some have argued" it -- Herbert London wrote:
In 1994, during my campaign for New York state comptroller against Carl McCall, the race card was played persistently by members of the press and by my opponent.
Since I had been active in civil rights causes, opened a headquarters in Harlem, was a sponsor of CORE events and had two men of color as my campaign chairmen, Reuben Diaz and Roy Innis, I was perplexed and disappointed. It became exceedingly ugly when Bob Herbert in a New York Times column called me a “racist,” a claim that was made without the slightest effort to speak to me directly or examine my record.
Even though I thought I was emotionally calloused, the charge hurt. Most significantly, it had a chastening influence on my campaign.
Even though I felt Mr. McCall made mistakes in our debates and had adopted positions that made him vulnerable to criticism, I was reluctant to challenge him. It was restraint borne of a false, but effective charge.
London fails to detail the circumstances that resulted in Bob Herbert making that claim about London, which puts the lie to any claim that he was "reluctant to challenge" McCall. From Herbert's Nov. 2, 1994, column:
Mr. London, who is Jewish, has run a bizarre and racist campaign against H. Carl McCall, a Democrat who is black. The campaign has been as subtle as a mugging.
"Kill the Jews?"
That's the way a London television ad opens, with the deliberately inflammatory words emblazoned in huge white letters on a black background. It's a sick ad, part of a relentless attempt by the London campaign to falsely portray Mr. McCall as an anti-Semite and to create in the minds of voters a phony link between him and the riots in Crown Heights.
The ad's script goes out of its way to tell viewers that Mr. London is "a Jewish candidate." A grainy, speeded-up black-and-white clip of Mr. McCall suffices to make the point that he is not.
The ad has not yet appeared on television, but Mr. London has released it to news organizations and a portion of it was played on WNBC-TV.
In another ad, this one printed in The Jewish Press, a smiling photo of Mr. London appears beneath the heading "Kosher," while an unsmiling Mr. McCall is labeled "Non-Kosher." The ad says, "On Nov. 8 You Decide Who Is Kosher for Our Community!"
That ad achieves a spectacular low in dirty politics by listing a series of quotes that were designed to upset Jewish voters and were attributed to Jesse Jackson, Sonny Carson (his first name was misspelled), Herbert Daughtry, Karen Burstein (her last name was misspelled), David Dinkins and others. At the bottom of the ad, in the tiniest print you can imagine, is a disclaimer that admits the quotes are "fictitious." They were made up by London supporters.
This has been the tone of the London campaign since the beginning. Many scurrilous lies have been told about Mr. McCall and nearly all have been related, directly or indirectly, to his race. He's also been compared to the Nazis and accused -- falsely -- of promising Nelson Mandela that he would invest New York State funds in South Africa.
It's obvious that by the time Herbert's column appeared, London had been campaigning in anything but a chastened manner. Further, the election was held on Nov. 8, 1994; Herbert's column appeared just six days earlier, making it unlikely that London's assertion he was "reluctant to challenge" McCall as a result of the column has any basis in fact.
Herbert was far from the only person to complain about London's campaign tactics. Even some of London's fellow Republicans distanced themselves from him, stating that "unfounded allegations or sneering hints of anti-Semitism are the most disgusting campaign tactics that exist."
Any claims of hurt by London at being labeled as engaging in racially charged tactics are nothing more than crocodile tears designed to distract from the fact that that's exactly what he was doing.