Friday, October 21, 2005

Farrakhan’s Baggage: What’s All the Fuss?

Farrakhan once wrote that Malcolm X, seen above, was "worthy of death." This portrait can be downloaded as desktop wallpaper on The Official Web Site of Malcolm X.

Continued from previous page

So what is Farrakhan’s baggage?

Role in Killing of Malcolm X

Many Farrakhan supporters also admire Malcolm X, known at the time of his death as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz.

While in prison in 1948, Malcolm began studying the philosophy of Elijah Muhammad, the prophet and leader of the Nation of Islam. Upon his release in 1952, he met with Muhammad. Within a year, he was an NOI minister. Malcolm X inspired Farrakhan (then Louis X) to join the movement in 1955. Malcolm became Farrakhan’s mentor.

In March 1964, Malcolm broke with the NOI after he found out about Muhammad’s extramarital relationships with several women. Malcolm embraced mainstream Islam, renounced the NOI’s racial supremacist theories, and established his own movement. After Malcolm’s departure, the NOI denounced him. On Feb. 14, 1965, his home was firebombed. A week later, three NOI gunmen killed Malcolm as he prepared to make a speech at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City. His wife, Betty, and daughters witnessed the shooting.

In 1991, Stanford University historian Clayborne Carson stated that Louis X “was one of those in the Nation responsible for the climate of vilification that resulted in Malcolm X's assassination."

After Malcolm’s defection, Louis X wrote in an NOI newspaper that "the die is set, and Malcolm shall not escape, especially after such evil foolish talk about his benefactor, Elijah Muhammad. Such a man as Malcolm is worthy of death."

Carson explained: "The question is not whether they wanted to see him [Malcolm X] dead, but whether they actually ordered the assassination. Within the context of the Nation of Islam, there was no need to do it. If you label somebody as an enemy of your religion, then the strongest believers are going to believe that is an invitation to take matters into their own hands. … Farrakhan would not have had to order the assassination. All he had to do was identify Malcolm as a traitor."

In a 1995 speech, Farrakhan said that he, Malcolm, Elijah Muhammad, and NOI members were victims of a government conspiracy to divide the movement.

“Our zeal, our love and hatred, our ignorance was manipulated by powerful outside forces and the result is that members of the Nation of Islam were involved in the assassination of Malcolm X,” he said to the audience, which included Malcolm’s widow Betty Shabazz. “And the Nation has taken the heat and carried the burden of the death of Malcolm X. We cannot deny whatever our part was. That is true. But we must not let the real culprit get away by hiding his hand and keeping us fighting and killing one another.”

He offered an apology of sorts: “We pray for Allah's forgiveness for our mistakes and errors and I personally pray that Allah will allow the heart of Sister Shabazz and her children and us to face truth and in that spirit if I have been wrong or wronged, I will seek forgiveness and will petition Allah and you for the same.”


The Anti-Defamation League, which tracks anti-Semitism and other forms of bias, has an extensive archive of Farrakhan’s anti-Jewish remarks.

The remark below, made by Farrakhan in 2003, is among many posted on the ADL site:

"You say I hate Jews. I don't hate the Jewish people, I never have. But there [are] some things I don't like. 'What is it you don't like, Farrakhan?' I don't like the way you leech on us. See a leech is somebody that sucks your blood, takes from you and don't give you a damn thing. See, I don't like that kind of arrangement. You become our manager, you become our agent. Every one of us that got talent, we can't make it because you opened the door, and when you opened the door you get and we end up dead with nothing, owing the IRS."

In a 1998 interview with Jeffrey Goldberg, a reporter for the Jewish newspaper The Forward and other publications, Farrakhan expounds on his views about Judaism. The NOI leader repeatedly states his admiration for the Jewish people.

For example:

“I admire the Jewish people because in every field of human endeavor, Jewish people – if not at the very top of that field – have contributed greatly to the growth and development of every discipline that is worthwhile; every aspect of science that is worthwhile; every aspect of culture that is worthwhile. So in essence, I have great admiration for the Jewish people.”

But his remarks are also peppered with heavy criticism. The interview was never published but the transcript is posted on line. (See links at the end of the article.)

Farrakhan's numerous, continued anti-Semitic remarks should be troublesome to any person of good will. The NOI minister, who is so fond of quoting of Jesus, might want to consider this passage: "For out of the overflow of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34)." He should know this Scripture. It follows the passage he cited on Tavis Smiley's show. "Make a tree good and its fruit will be good, or make a tree bad and its fruit will be bad, for a tree is recognized by its fruit (Matthew 12:33)."

Ties to Terror Supporters

The ADL has documented Farrakhan’s links to terror supporters. In 1996, Farrakhan met with leaders of Libya, Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Syria, nations identified as state sponsors of terrorism. His meeting with Libyan leader Col. Muammar Qaddafi, who was responsible for the Pan Am bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, was particularly problematic. The 1988 terrorist attack killed 259 people on the plane and 11 on the ground. After Farrakhan’s visit to Tripoli, Qaddafi publicly promised NOI supporters that he would give them arms to destroy "white America."

In 2003, the Libyan government admitted responsibility for the Pan Am bombing.

Recent Inflammatory Remarks

In an October 2005 speech, Farrakhan suggested that the 9/11 attacks and the collapse of levees in New Orleans were part of a U.S. government plot. Farrakhan alleges that both the levees in New Orleans and the Twin Towers in New York City were rigged with explosives planted by the U.S. government, Cybercast News Service reported.

"When you have people who politically feel that they get their advantage by killing people and blaming it on somebody else, then it makes us wonder what really happened to the Twin Towers,” Farrakhan said.


The charismatic, eloquent Farrakhan continues to electrify and inspire many. Why doesn’t his baggage bother supporters? Why isn’t his role in Malcolm X’s death an obstacle for those who rally around him?

Actor Ossie Davis presented the eulogy at Malcolm X’s funeral: “Malcolm was our manhood, our living, black manhood! This was his meaning to his people. And, in honoring him, we honor the best in ourselves. … He was and is a prince -- our own black shining prince -- who didn't hesitate to die, because he loved us so.”

It seems that Farrakhan gets a pass for condemning African-Americans’ shining black prince to death.

How Farrakhan is seen is dependent on the position of the observer. Consider the Doppler effect. To a train passenger, the pitch of the horn remains constant. However, to someone standing by the tracks, the pitch is higher as it approaches and lower as it speeds away. And that is the mystery of Farrakhan’s lasting appeal.

CNN, Crowds Gather for Millions More Movement
The Final Call (an NOI publication), Farrahkan's 1995 reconciliation speech
PBS, Tavis Smiley transcript
Jet magazine, Minister Louis Farrakhan Sets the Record Straight About His Relationship With Malcolm X
Stanford University, historian's comments on the death of Malcolm X
Wikipedia, Malcolm X article
Transcript of Jeffrey Goldberg's interview in which Farrakhan explains his views on Jews
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Anti-Defamation League, Farrakhan quotes
Anti-Defamation League, Farrakhan travels
Wikipedia, Pan Am Flight 103
Cybercast News Service, Farrakhan speech on 9/11, New Orleans levee failure
The Official Web Site of Malcolm X, eulogy
Christian Century, Farrakhan Says He's a Changed Man
Washington Times, Farrakhan Bestirs 'Millions' Rally
Washington Blade, Wilson Blocks Boykin From Millions More Stage," lists Farrakhan supporters
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