NEW YORK (Jan. 6)
A young white woman standing at a sidewalk table asks for signatures and donations to help combat racism and sexism.
A young black man collects money door-to-door to make voter registration more accessible.
Lenora Fulani runs for president representing a “black-led, women-led, multiracial, pro-gay” political party.
All appeal to liberal sensibilities and to those who feel they are not well represented by “the establishment.”
And all benefit Dr. Fred Newman, who critics say abuses liberal rhetoric to further his own authoritarian goals. He is often described as a therapy-cult guru who spent his politically formative years working with Lyndon LaRouche.
Fulani is a psychotherapist by profession and a perennial candidate in practice, who last week received nearly $625,000 in matching campaign funds from the federal government — more than any other candidate except President Bush and Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
She has requested another $140,000 for February.
Despite Newman’s Jewish background, Fulani has made statements that appear to be blatantly anti-Semitic. Her campaign spokeswoman prefers to call Fulani “militantly anti-Zionist,” as the candidate has, in fact, described herself.
Fulani publicly allies herself with militant Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan on the subject of Jews. She has been quoted as saying, for example: “I do not believe it is insignificant that a slumlord is Jewish.”
‘TIGHTLY CONTROLLED ORGANIZATION’
Fulani condemns “the practice of Zionism in the Middle East” and rejects “those Jewish ‘misleaders’ who insist upon equating Jewishness with Zionism.”
But it is not so much Fulani’s admitted agenda that concerns observers; rather, it is the deceptive nature of her campaign and that she is nothing more than “a figurehead” for Newman, as one critic put it.
The New Alliance Party is one of more than a dozen existing businesses founded by Newman. They include a Washington lobby group, publishing and music promotion companies, a cultural center, a private elementary school and, at the heart of it all, a chain of therapy clinics.
Newman runs a “very tightly controlled organization,” according to the New Alliance Party’s 1984 presidential candidate, Dennis Serrette, who has since left the group.
Fulani’s campaign spokeswoman, Madelyn Chapman, said Newman is simply “a renaissance man who has started many businesses with political interests. He has a lot of followers.”
But critics say that all of the operations revolve around Newman’s own brand of neo-Marxist therapy, which he calls social therapy.
Once someone has gotten more than peripherally involved with one of Newman’s causes, they are invited into “a secret underground organization” called the International Workers Party, Serrette wrote in Radical America magazine.
“Membership in the organization requires that you reveal all your resources and that you turn over everything to the organization,” according to Serrette.
Participation entails a great deal of secret ritual, as well as attendance at least one social therapy session each week, which is led by one of Newman’s hand-picked, hand-trained therapists, wrote Serrette. Some members attend daily, and though the therapy is mandatory, members must still pay for it.
‘AN US-VS.-THEM MENTALITY’
Social therapy is based on the premise that emotional problems are rooted not in organic causes or personal abuse, but rather in abuse by a racist, sexist society.
“If you disagree at all with one of Newman’s black lieutenants, the entire therapy group attacks you for being racist. If you disagree with a woman therapist, the entire group attacks you for being sexist. If you question the opinions of the therapist, you are resorting to your bourgeois critical faculties,” he wrote.
The therapy centers, which bear innocuous names, such as the East Side Center for Short-Term Psychotherapy and the New York Institute for Social Therapy and Research, are currently in at least four cities.
They are “heavily advertised in alternative press outlets,” according to Chip Berlet, an analyst with Political Research Associates of Cambridge, Mass., an independent research outlet that studies political trends.
“Social therapy is a sales pitch and gradually replaces self-directed life with a dependent relationship,” said Berlet. There’s “an us-vs.-them mentality, that it’s OK to do whatever’s necessary to bring down ‘them’ if they stand in your way.”
Deception is a favored tactic. “They have no real program, just rhetoric. And they change their pitch depending on where they are,” wrote Berlet.
One example of what critics term the Newmanites’ political opportunism is their continuing effort to imply a connection with Rev. Jesse Jackson and his Rainbow Coalition.
Newman’s Washington lobby group is called the Rainbow Lobby and is billed as the lobbying office of the Rainbow Alliance. It has been frequently mistaken for Jackson’s group, said Berlet. The confusion seems to be purposely exacerbated by how the New Alliance Party describes itself, as the party of the rainbow.
ATTEMPT TO CO-OPT LEFT-WING GROUPS
New Alliance Party members have also attempted to co-opt established left-wing groups, including the Manhattan chapter of the New Jewish Agenda and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, by joining in large numbers, voting in blocs and attempting to steer the groups’ agendas away from their stated goals.
Despite the New Alliance Party’s professed goal of representing blacks and other racial minorities, women and gay people, the real power of the organization remains in Fred Newman’s hands and those of his mostly white, largely Jewish inner circle of about 60 followers.
Berlet said that part of the New Alliance Party’s appeal is that “when not in power, a totalitarian group can look very enticing. It’s all things to all people, very adaptive, seizing on all popular issues of the day.
“But once in power,” he warned, “they have no program and can only maintain power through force and violence. We’ve learned the lesson twice from Hitler and Stalin.”