Friday, February 17, 2017

The Socialism of Fools, Part 1: Antisemitism and Malcolm X, Derrick Bell, and Louis Farrakhan

Malcolm X accepted the antisemitism of Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam when he was with them. Forward, a Yiddish newspaper, wrote in 1963:
When Malcolm X was asked whether the Black Muslims are anti-Semitic, he replied: “Many Jews have guilt feelings when people talk about ‘exploitation.’ This is because they know that they control 90 percent of the businesses in black communities, from the Atlantic to the Pacific. And they benefit more from black buying power than blacks do from other parts of the white community. So they feel guilty about it.” He also complained that Jews can be found on the boards of such organizations as the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, but, he continued, “the same Jews won’t let you become president of B’nai B’rith, or any of their other organizations.” Although Malcolm X denied that his organization is anti-Semitic, his comments left many wondering if that is genuinely true.
When Malcolm X left NOI in 1964, his understanding of power changed. This story by Richard Sanders Rosenthal illustrates his new attitude toward Jews:
In 1963 or 1964, I attended a meeting of the Young Socialists Club at Wayne State University in Detroit at which Malcolm spoke. He sat down following his speech, and then the moderator, who had a Jewish name, opened the meeting to questions from the audience.

The first person the moderator recognized for a question was a black man who didn't have a question at all. Instead he launched into an anti-Semitic diatribe.

Malcolm listened to it for an extended moment, then, when its tenor was unmistakable and it was clear the harangue would (be permitted to) continue, he rose from his chair on the stage and ambled to the lectern.

This is what Malcolm said to the best of my recollection - and I'm certain my memory of what he said is very close to his actual words and very likely exact: ''I suspect our moderator today is Jewish and I won't put him in the position of silencing you. So I will. Now shut up and sit down.''
In his last years, Malcolm denounced Elijah Muhammad's racism and said,
"...my dearest friends have come to include all kinds -- some Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, and even atheists! I have friends who are called capitalists, Socialists, and Communists! Some of my friends are moderates, conservatives, extremists—some are even Uncle Toms! My friends today are black, brown, red, yellow, and white!"
After Malcolm and Martin Luther King were killed, their universalism and their anti-capitalism fell out of favor. In the '80s, Critical Race Theory was developed by Derrick Bell and his Ivy League students, including Kimberlé Crenshaw, who gave the idea of "intersectionality" to third wave feminism. The Critical Race Theorists promoted ideas such as "all white people are racist because they grew up in a racist society" and "racism equals prejudice plus power, and since black people don't have power, they can't be racist."

This willingness to accept a superficial understanding of power and racism may explain why Derrick Bell admired the Nation of Islam's current leader, Louis Farrakhan. In 1992, Bell said,
Smart and super articulate, Minister Farrakhan is perhaps the best living example of a black man ready, willing and able to ‘tell it like it is’ regarding who is responsible for racism in this country. 
Farrakhan's ability to "tell it like it is" was profoundly antisemitic—he was Elijah Muhammad's heir in all ways. The Anti-Defamation League's Farrakhan In His Own Words includes this:
During his keynote address to 18,000 people at the NOI's 2014 Saviours' Day convention at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Farrakhan likened himself to auto magnate Henry Ford, who promoted anti-Semitic conspiracies in the 1920s in The Inter­na­tional Jew: the World’s Fore­most Prob­lem. Far­rakhan called Ford “a great man who was called an anti-Semite” and added, “I feel like I’m in good company.” In Part 2 of his Saviours’ Day address at Mosque Maryam in Chicago, Farrakhan received a standing ovation after telling his audience that “the Satanic Jews that control everything and mostly everybody, if they are your enemy, then you must be somebody.”
A few more examples of Farrakhan telling it like Derrick Bell thought it is "regarding who is responsible for racism in this country" from Louis Farrakhan | Southern Poverty Law Center:
"The Jews, a small handful, control the movement of this great nation, like a radar controls the movement of a great ship in the waters … the Jews got a stranglehold on the Congress."
— Louis Farrakhan, Saviour's Day speech, Chicago, Feb. 25, 1990

"And you do with me as is written, but remember that I have warned you that Allah will punish you. You are wicked deceivers of the American people. You have sucked their blood. You are not real Jews, those of you that are not real Jews. You are the synagogue of Satan, and you have wrapped your tentacles around the U.S. government, and you are deceiving and sending this nation to hell. But I warn you in the name of Allah, you would be wise to leave me alone. But if you choose to crucify me, know that Allah will crucify you."
— Louis Farrakhan, Saviour's Day speech, Chicago, Feb. 25, 1996

"And the Christian right, with your blindness to that wicked state of Israel … can that be the holy land, and you have gay parades, and want to permit to have a gay parade in Jerusalem when no prophet ever sanctioned that behavior. How can that be the Israel, how can that be Jerusalem with secular people running the holy land when it should be the holy people running the holy land. That land is gonna be cleansed with blood!"
— Louis Farrakhan, Saviour's Day speech, Chicago, Feb. 26, 2006

"We can now present to our people and the world a true, undeniable record of the relationship between Blacks and Jews from their own mouths and pens. These scholars, Rabbis and historians [that Nation of Islam researchers studied] have given to us an undeniable record of Jewish anti-Black behavior, starting with the horror of the trans-Atlantic slave trade, plantation slavery, Jim Crow, sharecropping, the labor movement of the North and South, the unions and the misuse of our people that continues to this very moment."
— Letter sent by Louis Farrakahn to Jewish leaders and the Southern Poverty Law Center, June 24, 2010.

“Osama Bin Laden didn’t destroy the Twin Towers. that was a false flag operation to take the world’s attention away from the great disunity in America after George W. Bush stole the election.”
—Louis Farrakhan “The Final Call” March 15, 2016
Related: The Man Who Changed Middle-Class Feminism, or Derrick Bell and Critical Race Theory, Where Racism and Anti-Racism Intersect