Everybody knows by now that one big link between the President-Elect and the now-arrested Governor of Illinois is Tony Rezko. What a lot of people still don't know about is that Rezko, who is a white Christian immigrant from Aleppo, Syria, has been intimately tied to the Black Muslims for a quarter of a century. Here's part of my VDARE.com column from 9/1/08, "Obama's Kind of Town, Chicago Is:"
Strikingly, the Nation of Islam in particular and Chicago black politics in general were Rezko's launching pad for his decades-long takeover of quite a bit of the government of the State of Illinois.
James L. Merriner wrote in Chicago magazine in November 2007:"When Harold Washington was running for mayor of Chicago in 1983, Rezko held a fundraiser after Jabir Herbert Muhammad, who was Muhammad Ali's business manager, urged him to get involved in the campaign. Subsequently, Rezko also joined Ali's entourage, traveling the world with him for five years. Rezko apparently took little interest in boxing—he says he and Ali did watch a few matches together—but he relished putting together business and endorsement deals for the champ."[Mr. Inside Out]
I bet he did. A rich punchdrunk pugilist and Tony Rezko—what could possibly go wrong? In the 1990s, Ali's latest wife forced out both Jabir and Tony.
Strange as it seems, the relationship between Rezko and the Black Muslims is not unique. Chicago-based columnist Ray Hanania of the Arab Writers Group explained:"Like many Arab Americans, Rezko had close ties to the Nation of Islam, which sympathized with the Palestinian and Arab causes. He became close to the inspiring icons like Muhammad Ali and even young Obama, a little-known state legislator who later rose to stardom."
Rezko is representative of a recent trend in Chicago politics: the rise of Arab wheeler-dealers as corruption catalysts.
The elites of the African-American and Arab communities may tend to agree on foreign policy. But down on the street, relations are hostile. The Arab immigrants, who are best known in Chicago as middle-man merchants operating liquor stores and the like in the ghetto, much like the Koreans in South Central Los Angeles at the time of the 1992 riots, are too hated by black voters to win political power for themselves through the ballot box. Hence their leaders tend to play shadowy roles in Chicago politics.
Rezko kept a sharp eye out for upcoming black political talent who could provide a politically correct front for him. Rezmar offered Obama a job in 1990. He didn't take it, but that was the beginning of a long and mutually beneficial friendship between Rezko and the man who is now the Democratic Presidential nominee. Rezko paid for 15 percent of Obama's first campaign, and Obama looked out in the state senate for Rezko's interests in low-income housing and in packing the state's hospital construction board.
Contract set-asides for minorities provide a lucrative opening for crooks like Rezko. The demand for "diversity" provides an excuse for a thumb on the scales, a justification for diverting the contract from the lowest bidder to a political ally who employs a minority frontman. Most of America's pundit class hasn't figured this out yet, but Rezko grasped how "diversity" works soon after getting off the plane. (Indeed, multicultural America is becoming ever more like the Ottoman Empire, giving an advantage to immigrants from old Ottoman mercantile minorities.)
Chicago explained: "Rezko ran Jabir Muhammad's firm, Crucial Concessions. Under Mayor Washington [remember that fundraiser?], Crucial won the concessions to sell food at city beaches."
Now I know why Chicago beach concession food in the 1980s was so untasty. The municipal hot dog stands were managed by the Nation of Islam and Tony Rezko!
Muhammad and Rezko worked the same minority set-aside scam with several high-grossing Panda Expresses at O'Hare airport. The Chicago Sun-Times reported on March 17, 2005:"Two restaurants at O'Hare Airport have been allowed to rake in millions of dollars, even though the Daley administration learned back in 2002 that the company running them was probably a phony minority "front" for Panda Express and Antoin "Tony" Rezko, a top fund-raiser for Gov. Blagojevich. Crucial Inc. won the O'Hare concessions in part because it was certified as a minority-owned business. Its largest shareholder was listed as Jabir Herbert Muhammad, son of the late Nation of Islam founder, Elijah Muhammad. … The [Chicago minority contractor] program has been tarred by a relentless string of scandals…"[City ignored possible O'Hare 'front' for years, By Chris Fusco, Fran Spielman And Michael Sneed]
Jabir and Tony also got a $10 million affirmative action contract from SBC, the giant phone company whose president was William Daley, Mayor Richie Daley's brother, to run the payphones at the Cook County jail. Their designated owner-operator was a twofer under the quota of 35 percent of contracts reserved for minority and women-owned businesses: a black woman named Deloris Wade, although she happened to be dead.
Building on these black Chicago roots, Rezko eventually became the statewide power behind the throne when the Democrats swept to victory in the 2002 elections. Chicago Magazine reported:"Rezko became a virtual one-man headhunting firm for staffing the Blagojevich administration, sending along recommended candidates, many of whom ended up getting appointments. … (The U.S. attorney here has charged that Rezko schemed to pack the government with his cronies so that they could peddle their influence.)"
Diversity sensitivity also provides a convenient justification for corruption. Blagojevich said he sought Rezko's"advice on recommendations for agency directors for two reasons. Number one, I had every reason to think he was honest and independently successful in business and that he was able to bring us people who were not part of state government before. And he has connections and roots in the African American community, and he could help us with candidates . . . because part of what we wanted to do was to have a diverse administration." [More, in which I explain why Chicago, and thus Obama, is the way it is]