Monday, February 26, 2007

Louis Farrakhan Bids Followers Farewell.

Louis Farrakhan (age 73), longtime head of the Nation of Islam, gave his farewell speech to his flock yesterday with the words "My time is Up". His speech was oddly reconciliatory considering his track record of controversy. He suggested that Jesus Christ and the Prophet Muhammed would "embrace each other with love" if they were on stage with him. He stressed that the currrent conflict in Iraq is the result of Bush and other leaders putting greed above service. His words resonate with those of critics from all sides of the political spectrum- "Our lips are full of praise, but our hearts are far removed from the prophets we all claim."

Farrakhan has an unlikely personal history for a revolutionary. When he was a kid he played violin in the Boston Civic Symphony. He appeared on television on a popular variety show. He briefly attended school at a teachers college. Later he became known as a calypso singer, performing under the retrospectively ironic pseudonym, "The Charmer". It was during this time that he became inspired by a young Malcom X. Shortly after he joined the Nation of Islam in 1955, its iconic leader Elijah Muhammed ordered all musicians to forego their craft, and Farrakhan gave up the potential wealth and satifaction of his promising career.

The young activist rose quickly through the ranks of the organization, and attained the position of Minister of the Boston Mosque. Ten years after his initial commitment he became head of the very influential Harlem Mosque, and served in that position for an additional ten years. In 1978, Farrakhan was involved in a power struggle for the fate of the Nation of Islam. In 1981, he and a few supporters splintered off from the NOI, and proclaimed a return to the traditional teachings of Elijah and Wallace Fard Muhammad. They renamed the official media organ (calling it "The Final Call") and consolidated their power. In 1995 Farrakhan reached the apex of public exposure by organizing the Million Man March. Though actual particpation was estimated to meet only half of that figure, the demonstration is said to have been the largest in US history.

Farrakhan was heavily criticized by the mainstream press for his comments arising from the Jesse Jackson "Hymietown" flap of 1984. In responding to alleged death threats against Jackson, Farrakhan made a speech that was dissected for imflammatory remarks. At that time he was being attacked by the Jewish community for his perceived anti-semitism. In answering claims that he was akin to the archetypal figure of evil for the Twentieth century, Farrakhan truly did say that "Hitler was a very great man." But he did so in context of a comparison between the German leader's uplifting of his people and the struggle for black rights in America. Little attention was given to his caveat that he was "not proud of Hitler's evil toward Jewish people", nor his refusal to be labeled along with the white man's "wicked killers".

But Farrakhan has a history of remarks containing political and cultural insensitivity. He famously referred to Jews, Palestinian Arabs, Koreans and the Vietnamese as "bloodsuckers". He has perpetuated the infamous "Elders of Zion" myth by claiming that "the Jews" own the Federal Reserve. Yet he took a step back from his invective with a 1998 call for all peoples of the world to "end the cycle of hatred". He also formed a relationship with a small anti-Zionist, Orthodox Jewish group called Neturei Karta. But he seemed to have a difficult time separating completely from his history of intolerance. As recently as 2006 he has said that it's the "false jews that are promoting lesbianism and homosexuality". Yet it is not entirely easy to dismiss all of Farrakhan's analysis as simple racism or bigotry. He has displayed a more politically nuanced view by claiming that "Zionists have manipulated Bush and the American government and our boys and girls are dying in Iraq and Afghanistan for the cause of Israel, not for the cause of America".

Farrakhan hasn't limited his commentary to Israel. White people in general have proved to be a bit of an obsession for him. In 1994 he pointed out that, "Murder and lying comes easy for white people". This is to be understood in the context of the teachings of the venerable Elijah Muhammed, who preached that white folks are a race of devils created (actually grafted from the original humans- the Blacks) by an evil scientist named "Yakub". But fortunately for the paler among us, Farrakhan has a slightly more nuanced position- "White people are potential humans- they haven't evolved yet". I, for one, can find some comfort and hope in that position.


Blogger arabisraelites said...

'JEWS' N SPAIN / PORTUGAL MAPS - Khazars N Sephardic 'Jews' Not Israelites but European converts

Abraham n Sarah descendants of Chaldeans.. ancient Iraqis compare the natives of the middle east with "Jews"

6:42 PM  

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