Civil rights leader Bayard Rustin said Sunday he opposes admissions and employment quotas imposed to help blacks and other minorities "because I believe they are basically undemocratic and you can't run society like a crap game."
Rustin also criticized black leaders including D.C. Del. Walter E. Fauntroy for meeting with representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization.
"Once you give respectability to one terrorist group, you give respectability to all terrorist groups -- including the Ku Klux Klan," he warned.
In a speech at the Washington Hebrew Congregation, Rustin called on blacks and Jews to patch up their differences and work together to eliminate poverty and unemployment, which he called the "real problems."
Rustin, 70, the first speaker in the organization's Sunday Scholar Series, was deputy director of the 1963 March on Washington. He is president of the A. Philip Randolph Institute, a black self-help organization, and chairman of the Black Americans to Support Israel Committee (BASIC). He is a Quaker.
Concerning quotas, Rustin said if they cause lower standards so that more blacks can get into universities and jobs, they are "destructive" and "of no assistance to black people. "I have not run into a single young black who wants something because he is black. He wants to pass the test and meet the standards."
He added, "I am passionate that blacks should be able to make it like everyone else in this society."
Rustin said such quotas might produce "resentful" feelings toward blacks among members of majority groups who do not benefit from them. Quotas, he said, are the "cheap way out" temporarily to satisfy political groups that might otherwise cause political problems.
Instead of quotas to correct racial discrimination, Rustin called for extensive remedial courses and job training so that blacks can meet the same standards as other applicants for college admission and jobs. He also called for strict antidiscrimination laws.
In addition, he said blacks and other minorities should depend on individual court suits, not across-the-board government guidelines, to reverse discriminatory policies. A government-set quota system might create havoc, he said, because "it becomes a matter of practice in which ever minority group feels it has the same rights under law."
Rustin said blacks' problems today primarily stem not from racial discrimination, but from unemployment, which is "creating economic untouchables in the millions -- blacks, poor whites, Mexican-Americans." He added, "The problem is one of poverty, and to the degree we can eliminate it we will see there is a reduction in discrimintion."
In the 1960s, he said, blacks fought for rights they had been denied: the rights to vote, use public accommodations and send their children to the schools they chose. But, he said, "The civil rights movement as we have known it is no longer here. It cannot and will not exist again."
Now blacks have the same goals many non-blacks have: education, jobs, housing, medical care. "These are not (solely) black issues and cannot be made black."
Rustin called on Jews and blacks to work together for full employment, "the kind of economy which gives minorities a sense of involvement economically in this society, so that they do not need to ask for things that are essentially a special treatment for them." He said full employment might be realized through programs such as the New Deal, and laws that would support U.S. business and keep jobs in this country.
He acknowledged that tensions had arisen between blacks and Jews. "In the '60s, blacks were considered underdogs whom we ought to help to get the same rights we had." Now, he said, partly because of quotas, "blacks are no longer (considered) underdogs, they are top dogs, pushing us aside."
Another source of tension, he said, has been some black leaders' support of the PLO, which has called for the destruction of Israel. This was, he said, "one of the cruelest blows that could have been dealt to the (black-Jewish) relationship . . . I would certainly resent Jews endorsing the Ku Klux Klan."
He added, "Those blacks who are defending the PLO are in part responsible for the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan and their attack upon blacks" because to endorse one terrorist group is to endorse any terrorist group.
But, he said, "Jews have played a vital role in the development of blacks in this nation . . . At almost every point in our history where we have needed allies, Jews -- not because they needed us, but because they were adherents of the basic concepts of the prophets of social justice -- came to our aid."
He cautioned Jews not to refuse to help blacks and thus be "dragged to the level" of those who say they support the PLO. "Jews ought to be against injustice to anyone, no matter who it is . . . that is what they are commanded to do by the prophets."
Other fall and winter speakers in the Sunday Scholar Series:
Oct. 19: Saul Friedlander, "A Jew's Catholic Childhood in Vichy, France;"
Oct. 26: Norman A. Stillman, "The Islamic Factor in the Middle East: Understanding the Revival;"
Nov. 2: Geoffrey Wigoder, "Journey through the Museum of the Jewish Diaspora;"
Nov. 9: Midge Decter, "The New Love of Sterility;"
Nov. 16: Eliezer Oren, "The Egyptian Connection: Historical and Cultural Relationships with Ancient Israel;"
Nov. 23: Peter Gay, "Freud's Jewishness;"
Dec. 7: Stephen Berk, "Soviet Jewry at the Turning Point;"
Dec. 14: Dr. Philip Leder, "Can Man Now Guide His Own Evolution? The Meaning of the New Genetics."