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People are shocked over a significant portion of the black community's seeming endorsement or silence over the plainly racist and anti-Semitic diatribes of Nation of Islam's Minister Louis Farrakhan and his disciple Khalid Muhammad.

Stripped of racism, anti-Semitism and nationalism, Minister Farrakhan's message to blacks is: Get off welfare and get a job; stop depending on white people and be independent; stop using drugs; stop criminal preying on the black community; stop having babies out of wedlock; take responsibility for yourself; show respect for black women; and put some prayer into your lives.Ironically, that message contains much of the argument that conservative blacks have been making for several decades.

Conservative blacks have warned about abandonment of traditional values and substitution of those values with alternative lifestyles. However, conservative criticism of half-baked schemes of the '60s and '70s was greeted with scorn and belittlement by establishment blacks, black politicians, civil rights leaders and white liberals. With media complicity, blacks who preached the nonracist elements of the Farrakhan message were condemned as "sellouts," "blaming the victim" and "giving aid and comfort to America's racists." It was easy to dismiss the messenger but not the message or its reality.

Liberal ideas have been especially devastating to the black underclass. Because "original causes" could not be eliminated, liberals have accepted a level of criminal activity and property destruction that has turned many black neighborhoods into economic wastelands. Liberals have used a bad home environment as an excuse to permit hostile, disruptive kids to stay in school and make education impossible for everybody else. Slavery and racism have been used as an excuse for out-of-wedlock births, and welfare has been promoted as a substitute for fathers.

Conservatives have always argued this was nonsense. Farrakhan's successful nationalistic appeal results from black and white liberals' success in snuffing out civil criticism and discourse.

It's easy for Minister Farrakhan and others to indict racism for today's problems. After all, 40 years after Brown vs. Board of Education, black education is in shambles and, in many cases, worse than it was in 1954. The nation has allocated massive resources to fight discrimination and create affirmative action programs. But for many blacks, college and a decent job is an unrealizable dream.

Had conservative critics not been silenced and liberal ideas not gone unchallenged, not only wouldn't we see today's level of black racism, there would be far less poverty and despair. In the process of using poor black people to further their ideological, income and political agenda, liberals have produced the conditions for Minister Louis Farrakhan's popularity. A conservative challenge to liberal lunacy is long overdue. Too bad that it's cloaked in racism, anti-Semitism and nationalism.