The Screwy World of Louie Farrakhan

Of all those afflicted with that common form of voluntary dementia called religion, some of the queerest are members of the Nation of Islam (NOI), who are commonly referred to as "Black Muslims." In view of the nature of the Black Muslim beliefs, well documented in numerous books, articles, and even movies and television programs, the furor a few years ago over remarks made by now deceased Nation of Islam spokesman Khalid Abdul Muhammad must be attributed only to the fact that his most inflamatory words were printed in a daily newspaper as opposed to an obsure book, tract, or the Nation's newspaper. This came at a time when some leaders, particularly prominent African Americans, were trying to ignore the fact that the Nation of Islam is, after all is said and done, a lunatic fringe group, founded on the premise of black racial superiority, with a history liberally sprinkled with violence and threats of violence. True, very few of its members are truly lunatic. The overwhelming majority, like the constituents of so many religions, conveniently choose to ignore the underlying dogma of their "faith." Khalid Abdul Muhammad is an example of one who wouldn't. He is, you might say, true to his faith, which is a frightening thing. Khalid's comments, directed against Jews, Catholics, gays, and white South Africans, were nothing new and represented what must be considered mainstream rhetoric among the leaders of these self-styled Muhammedans. What is surprising is how, time after time, the Nation of Islam, through the efforts of its enigmatically charismatic leader, Louis Farrakhan, has been able to divert attention away from the basic nature of its philosophy. That nature is, without a doubt, as unflaggingly racist as that of any contemporary white group with which it might be compared, such as Ku Klux Klan organizations or Christian Identity groups. Farrakhan's ability to dissemble the true nature of his organization to those who might find it offensive truly qualifies him as a black David Duke.

In his mission to present an acceptable face for the Nation of Islam, Minister Farrakhan has had a lot of help. For instance, on September 16, 1993, the Congressional Black Caucus held a forum of African American leaders. This gathering had a decidedly religious caste, thanks to the presence of the ubiquitous Reverend Jesse Jackson and the NAACP's Reverend Benjamin Chavis. Also speaking were Representatives Maxine Waters and Kweisi Mfume, who seemed to trail their ordained colleagues only slightly in their references to God. While these persons are unarguably leaders of one sort or another among the black community, I was dismayed when Rep. Kweisi Mfume referred to them as "the clearest of thinkers." It would be difficult for me to describe any religious leader in such terms, but to assign such a distinction to an irrational racist such as Farrakhan is to indict the intellectual standards of the black community, and certainly the judgment of the person making that assessment. Farrakhan's mere presence among such more accomplished leaders was certainly in itself far more legitimacy than his checkered history merited.

Unfortunately, "men of the cloth" such as Farrakhan are usually granted an exemption from the normal rules by which rational people live. When you criticize Farrakhan's racism, you are criticizing his religion, a no-no in polite society. Ironically, Farrakhan's haven of religion is shared by the Zionists he so despises. The deference with which he has traditionally been handled by many leaders and media figures, even outside the black community, is a serious error which is reflected in the popularization of the Black Muslim message of hatred. Even the most cursory objective study of the Nation of Islam's philosophy reveals it to be one of blatant racism, founded upon what just might be the most absurd collection of divinely revealed gibberish that has ever been presented to a modern people. Elijah Muhammad's book Message to the Blackman (Muhammad's Temple No. 2, Chicago, 1965), contains the essential elements of the Black Muslim creed. It would make for humorous reading, were it not for the constant and sinister references to whites as "devils" and "the enemy of the Muslims (the black man)."

The history of the world, as reported by Elijah Muhammad, did not begin with Adam, as traditional Muslims would contend. Adam was, despite his primary position in the Bible, only the first white man. He was, furthermore, not created by God, but was the invention of a black man, Yacub, a mad scientist who "using a special method of birth control law . . . was able to produce the white race." Although Yacub is described as a black man "born out of the 30 per cent dissatisfied," Muhammad also refers to him as "another God" (p. 110). This confusion is typical of Muhammad's writing, and complements the character of Black Muslim doctrine, which is murky and implausible even by religious standards. At one point Muhammad denies Yacub was a "devil," (p. 118), then later concludes that he indeed was a devil (p. 134). Black people, "the so-called Negroes," are identified by Muhammad as "the original man." Muhammad seemed to believe that black people are of great antiquity, at one point bafflingly referring to "our 66 trillion years from the moon" (p. 110). The white race only dates back 6,000 years. Even younger still are "the monkey family," who were created from white people as they "tried to graft themselves back to the black nation. A few got as far as what you call a gorilla." (p. 119) Elijah Muhammad's account of world history is as bizarre as any religious myth. When the white race first appeared among the "Holy people of Islam" they created havoc for six months, until "the King" ordered them shipped off to Europe, or as Muhammad calls it, "West Asia." The King sent a complement of guards, "armed with rifles, to keep the devils going westward" (p. 117).

The use of rifles 6,000 years ago is an interesting detail, but Muhammad advances technology even further when, 2,000 years later, Moses "took a few sticks of dynamite" to dispatch 300 whites who had frustrated his efforts to civilize them (p. 120). Although Louis Farrakhan has attempted, like David Duke, to moderate his racist philosophy when addressing wider audiences, he continues in the tradition of absurdities exemplified by Elijah Muhammad and so many "messengers of God" before him. While Muhammad claimed to have received his revelations directly from God, in the form of the mysterious Master Wali Farrad Muhammad, Farrakhan distinguished himself by claiming to have conferred with the very dead Elijah Muhammed while "on a wheel that you call a UFO." Click here to hear this with your own ears (350K). This fantasy was relatively harmless. Most of his delusions are not so innocuous. In his well attended speeches Minister Farrakhan has amplified Elijah Muhammed's message, and added a few frightening twists of his own. His rantings are certainly no worse than those for which he disciplined his disciple Khalid. In a taped speech distributed by the Nation he heaps abuse on whites, urging his listeners to smell whites, referring to them as "crackers" with a "flat glutemus [sic] maximus." While this observation brought approving laughter from the audience, Farrakhan soon changes the tone, and proclaims that "Muhammad and any Muslim will murder the devil. It's putting to death time today. If you don't have the courage to do it, it's going to be done anyway."

This is nothing short of encouraging murder, but Farrakhan has a history of making such statements, sometimes against other blacks. In the December 4, 1964 issue of Muhammad Speaks, Farrakhan wrote regarding Malcolm X: "Such a man is worthy of death." Two months later, Farrakhan's wish was fulfilled. Farrakhan played no small part in establishing the atmosphere of internecine violence that haunted the African-American Muslim community during the sixties and seventies. That same message of violence was still being broadcast in the eighties, even as Farrakhan posed as representing the darkest hue in the Jesse Jackson's Rainbow Coalition. The newfound acceptance among a wider audience has made Farrakhan, oddly enough, the apparent heir to Malcolm X's mantle of leadership among younger, more anti-establishment African Americans. As a deeply religious man, Farrakhan feels little obligation to produce facts to support for his views. Why go to all that trouble when, despite his outrageous teachings, he is greeted as a benefactor of the black community and a leading light for troubled black youth? His successful formula of racism and alarmism is evident in his ridiculous assertion, voiced in one of his recorded speeches, that whites have developed an "ethnic gas" that only kills those of a certain "genetic makeup." He also promotes, again without substantiation, the theory that AIDS is actually the result of an intentional biological assault on the central African population: "[They're] not drug users nor or they homosexuals. How did they get AIDS?"

This sort of ignorance is much more of a threat to the black community than to the white. Oddly enough, Farrakhan has of late positioned himself as a leader who can communicate a message of peace to black youth, and bring about an end to the gang violence that has been a scourge in recent years. He has addressed a number of "Stop the Killing" rallies, urging an end to black-on-black violence. Farrakhan's opportunistic adoption of the role of peacemaker is ironic because the violent component of his message has for some time been reaching many of the same black youths who fill the ranks of inner city gangs, and its effect has been anything but soothing. Aspects of the Nation of Islam's philosophy have been propagated by "gangsta" rap artists such as Ice Cube, Gang Starr, Sista Souljah, and Public Enemy. Rather than being known for their promotion of peace and love, these musicians have all too frequently echoed the Black Muslim themes of violence and bigotry. Many people have charged that the gun play, misogyny and anti-Semitism served up by these Muslim-inspired works has contributed to the very problem which Farrakhan now proposes to solve. Regardless of the effects of gangster rap, its manifestation of violent racial themes demonstrate that the Black Muslim philosophy has become a breeding ground for racism within the black community. Whatever Farrakhan may do to reduce this violence will be no more than taking his knife out of the back of the black community.

While Farrakhan makes unsubstantiated claims of African racial superiority, he fails to recognize one area of documented superiority. In the book Back Where We Belong, a collection of Farrakhan speeches, Farrakhan makes a pitch for his "Clean 'N Fresh Herbal Essence Shampoo and Conditioner" by admonishing "Don't have your hair in the condition where the lice like you, stay with you, cling to you, because you are unclean." Such advice would be better suited to a white market, since black people, having oily scalps, are poor hosts for lice, which find it difficult to attach their eggs to the hair shafts. Infestations of head lice are virtually unknown in the black community. This is just another case of facts being ignored, this time for commercial rather than religious reasons. But sometimes it's hard to tell the difference. The fact that Louis Farrakhan has achieved a degree of popularity within the black community hardly legitimizes the racist character of his dogma. The Black Muslim religious beliefs are essentially racist at their core, and anyone why promotes such a creed must be termed a racist or incapable of making the most elemental logical analysis, or both. While it is not difficult to find sections of Judeo Christian sacred literature that parallel Elijah Muhammad's revelations in their bigotry and violence, we have to look to the fringes of modern Christianity and Judaism to find adherents that preach such hatred as a matter of course. This is why Farrakhan's closest analogs are to be found in religious and quasi-religious groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the Aryan Brotherhood. Anyone who claims to oppose racism and violence should rebuke Farrakhan without the slightest reservation. It is our responsibility to do so. This is especially true for those in positions of leadership. Instead there is fawning and acquiescence. In an attempt to justify cozying up to Farrakhan, they talk about the Black Muslim efforts to rid inner city neighborhoods of drugs. One might as well enlist the Nazis for the same purpose. Those who concern themselves with the welfare of the black community must begin to realize that Farrakhan's racism does not elevate blacks. It only adds more confusion, more ignorance, more resentment, and more violence to an environment already suffering from these plagues.

Farrakhan is a mirror image of white racism, no more and no less. Black leaders jump all over Ross Perot for referring to blacks as "you people," yet sit quietly while Farrakhan advocates the extermination of a race. Farrakhan suggests killing the reporter who disclosed the "Hymietown" remark of Farrakhan's friend, Jesse Jackson, and receives only muted criticism from the black community and leadership. How can anyone responsibly legitimize such a man? How can he be provided with a forum which may lead some to interpret his message as representing anything other than the rantings of a deeply disturbed and quite likely psychotic individual? While the contributions of the Black Muslims to the black community are scant, it is quite likely that their racist messages have been widely heard and internalized. Reversing this damage should start with the unqualified rejection of Minister Farrakhan's message of hate. Farrakhan is not just a racist and a sexist but also a segregationist, despite his admiring words, in recent years, for the civil rights movement and its heroes.

It has been observed that the Black Muslims seem to see eye-to-eye with many of their white counterparts, such as the Ku Klux Klan and many of the quasi-religious white supremacist organizations, and indeed they do. Louis Farrakhan is in many ways David Duke's doppelganger. Their similarities are perhaps more significant than their differences. Both Duke and Farrakhan have said that Hitler was, in Farrakhan's words, "a great man." They have both called for the blacks and whites to be separated in different parts of the country, blamed Jews for many of society's problems, and promoted the superiority of their own race. The two groups mirror each other in many ways, and it is easy to see how Elijah Muhammad's visions may well have been formed in reaction to and inspired by European concepts of race. Black Muslims believe that their race is the true chosen people of God. So do many white racist. Black Muslims and white racists agree on the subject of racial segregation. Both groups would prohibit interracial marriages, and would make any interracial contact much more difficult. The similarities between the likes of Farrakhan and Duke are much more significant than their differences.

Copyright 1998 by Patrick Inniss.  All rights reserved.

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