The Nation of Islam is built on racism and lies
July 19th 2010
I do not think that the NAACP was out of order in asking the Tea
Party movement to separate itself from the racists in its midst, but
the famous civil rights organization ought to start by following the
During the great March On Washington in August of 1963, the Nation of
Islam was not invited. Its members were not bothered because Malcolm
X was to become a bit more famous by ridiculing the Rev. Martin
Luther King Jr. and the whole affair as a meaningless piece of
theater held in check by the almighty white man.
But by the end of the decade, the civil rights movement had fallen to
pieces shortly after King's assassination in 1968. Black Power
emerged and whites were discouraged from joining or attempting to
join anything supposedly free of white control.
Integration was out, self-segregation was in. That's the way it actually was.
This was intellectual pollution. It is now known as "identity
politics." A toxic form of pretension, it had certain memorable
ingredients. They were all conveniently superficial. Big hair styles,
name changes, African clothing, combat boots, reading the combative
works of Frantz Fanon and just about anyone from anywhere in the
world ready to call white people dirty names and blame capitalist
Western culture for the troubles of the planet.
"Unity" became the loud call and was thought capable of putting color
prejudice in its place. All black people needed to do was cease going
in a number of separate directions. It was no longer time to come to
Jesus; it was time to come together! Color was the ultimate reality,
they said; the white man could maintain power only if black people
kept spinning their wheels on separate paths.
That was the point at which previously unacceptable racist cults like
the Nation of Islam became acceptable. Those brothers and sisters
must have been doing something right because the white man didn't
like them. Hmmm. Shoddy thinking, but pervasive.
Many have now conveniently forgotten just what The Nation of Islam
believed and why it was an offense to serious political engagement.
Before falling out with the cult, Malcolm X clarified its beliefs as
the Nation's most popular spokesman. His attacks on the cult seem to
have led directly to his assassination, if we are to believe what
Louis Farrakhan says in the film "Brother Minister."
According to the X-man, the Nation had taught him nothing but lies he
felt compelled to repudiate. The Nation believed that the white man
was a "grafted" creature made in a laboratory by a mad black
scientist named Yakub. The loony scientist did the dirty deed 6,000
years ago, intent on destroying the world. "Mother ships" were
circling the Earth and waiting for the cosmic order to rain fire on
the United States, which was prophesied to burn for 777 years. And so on.
Neither King nor any reputable people doing serious work would have
anything to do with the Nation of Islam. It was too racist and too
much of an intellectual embarrassment.
Over the years, many things have changed. The Black Power era is
largely forgotten. The various "Afrocentric" cults and costumes are
now little more than subjects for political science classes. Black
Power is now a silly blip of "history," and we know how little
Americans know or care about history, especially if it is not pleasant.
It would surprise us all if Ben Jealous, who now heads the NAACP,
were to stop appearing as part of televised forums with Louis
Farrakhan, such as the one Tavis Smiley organized last spring in Chicago.
Were Jealous and the rest disturbed and vocal about Farrakhan's
presence, it would suggest some actual integrity of the sort we are
not accustomed to hearing from "black leaders" and "public
intellectuals." Racial complaint has become too lucrative a hustle,
and a hustler must always remain true to the game. Principles never
sell as well as slogans.