|<!– Individual Profile:
- Leader of the Nation of Islam
- Orchestrated the 1995 “Million Man March”
- Renowned for his hatred of whites and Jews
Addressing a crowd of some 20,000 people at the Nation of Islam’s annual Saviours’ Day celebration, Louis Farrakhan said Sunday that presidential candidate Barack Obama represents the “hope of the entire world” that the United States will become a better neighbor to other nations. “This young man is the hope of the entire world that America will change and be made better,” he said. “This young man is capturing audiences of black and brown and red and yellow. If you look at Barack Obama’s audiences and look at the effect of his words, those people are being transformed.”Farrakhan likened Obama to NOI founder Fard Muhammad, who also, like Obama, had a white mother and black father. “A black man with a white mother became a savior to us,” said Farrakhan. “A black man with a white mother could turn out to be one who can lift America from her fall.”
The current leader of the Nation of Islam (NOI), Louis Farrakhan was born Louis Eugene Walcott on May 11, 1933 in Roxbury, Massachusetts. As a young man in Boston, he became a popular entertainer as a calypso singer, dancer, and violinist. While in Chicago in February 1955, he was invited by a friend to attend a Nation of Islam Saviours’ Day Convention at a local mosque. Soon thereafter Farrakhan joined NOI.
In the 1960s Farrakhan developed a strong enmity toward fellow NOI member Malcolm X, who backed a more moderate vision of black civil rights than did Farrakhan. When Malcolm in 1964 publicly revealed that NOI leader Elijah Muhammad had impregnated several of his teenage secretaries, Farrakhan, outraged at what he perceived to be Malcolm’s disloyalty, called him a traitor and denounced him in the NOI newspaper Muhammad Speaks: “Only those who wish to be led to hell, or to their doom, will follow Malcolm. The die is set, and Malcolm shall not escape, especially after such evil, foolish talk about his benefactor; such a man is worthy of death and would have been met with death if it had not been for Muhammad’s confidence in Allah for victory over his enemies.” Ten weeks later, on February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was killed in Harlem’s Audubon Ballroom by three gunmen with ties to NOI.
As recently as 1993, Farrakhan tried to justify Malcolm X’s assassination when he said in a speech, “Was Malcolm your traitor or ours? And if we dealt with [Malcolm] like a nation deals with a traitor, what the hell business is it of yours? A nation has to be able to deal with traitors and cutthroats and turncoats.” In May 1995, however, Farrakhan spoke for the first time in repentant tones about the slaying, and admitted to having “helped create the atmosphere” that led to it. “I may have been complicit in words that I spoke leading up to 21 February,” he said. “I acknowledge that and regret that any word that I have said caused the loss of life of a human being.” Immediately thereafter, however, he named the U.S. government as the real villain that had fomented zeal and bitterness inside NOI’s ranks.
In 1984 Farrakhan issued another death threat against someone he perceived to be a race traitor. After a black Washington Post reporter named Milton Coleman publicly revealed that presidential candidate Jesse Jackson had referred to Jews as “Hymies” and to New York City as “Hymietown,” Farrakhan told Coleman: “One day soon we will punish you with death.”
Farrakhan also has a long, well-documented history of venom-laced references to the “white devils” and Jewish “bloodsuckers” who purportedly decimate America’s black community from coast to coast. He has referred to Judaism as a “gutter religion,” and to Adolf Hitler as “a great man” — though he later claimed that he had meant only that Hitler was “wickedly great.” He has made innumerable statements depicting whites and Jews as loathsome, racist oppressors of blacks.
In 1997, for example, the Clarion-Ledger reported Farrakhan’s characterization of “the white man” as the “anti-Christ.” In a 1997 Meet The Press interview, Farrakhan stated, “It is not accidental that the black male is in the condition he is in,” and he charged that there was a “conspiracy of our government against the black male.” In August 1997, the New York Amsterdam News quoted Farrakhan stating, “A decree of death has been passed on America. The judgment of God has been rendered and she must be destroyed.” A month later the NOI newspaper The Final Call (formerly called Muhammad Speaks) reported Farrakhan’s assertion that just as African Americans are under a “death decree” from the U.S. government, America is similarly under a “decree of death from God.” “There is no wicked nation in the past that approaches the evil that is practiced in America on a daily basis,” said Farrakhan on another occasion.
In March 2000 the Philadelphia Inquirer quoted Farrakhan saying, “White people are potential humans … they haven’t evolved yet.” At other times, he has referred to whites as “vicious beasts” and “the skunks of the planet.” Additional noteworthy Farrakhan statements include the following:
On numerous occasions, Farrakhan has made alliances with avowed foreign enemies of the United States. In January 1996, for instance, he formed a partnership with Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi, who pledged $1 billion to help Farrakhan develop a Muslim political lobby in the U.S. According to Libya’s official news agency Jana, Qadhafi announced: “We agreed with Louis Farrakhan and his delegation to mobilize in a legal and legitimate form the oppressed minorities — and at their forefront the blacks, Arab Muslims and Red Indians — for they play an important role in American political life and have a weight in U.S. elections.” The Jana story further stated that Qadhafi and Farrakhan had pledged to fight America from the “inside.” “Our confrontation with America,” said Qadhafi, “was [previously] like a fight against a fortress from outside, and today [with the NOI alliance] we found a breach to enter into this fortress and confront it.”
This was not Farrakhan’s first friendly encounter with Qadhafi. Eleven years earlier, the Libyan strongman had granted NOI a $5 million interest-free loan, in gratitude for which Farrakhan later visited Libya to personally thank his benefactor. Qadhafi once told a crowd of NOI followers at a Chicago convention that he sought to sponsor an armed black revolution in America. On yet another occasion, Farrakhan and his aides — violating a travel ban imposed on Americans by President Reagan — flew to Tripoli to meet with Qadhafi, who Farrakhan has proudly called “a friend,” “a brother,” and “a fellow struggler in the cause of liberation for our people.”
In 1996 and again the following year, Farrakhan went on “World Friendship Tours” to exchange pleasantries with government leaders in Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Sudan — all of which were on the State Department’s list of nations that supported terrorism. Many times during these tours, Farrakhan publicly denounced the United States as “the Great Satan.” Particularly noteworthy was his visit as an honored guest of Sudan’s Islamic fundamentalist government, which had slaughtered a million black Christians and enslaved hundreds of thousands of its black inhabitants.
Before Farrakhan left Iran for Syria in 1996, a Tehran newspaper quoted him saying: “God will destroy America by the hands of the Muslims. … God will not give Japan or Europe the honor of bringing down the United States; this is an honor God will bestow upon Muslims.”
In Baghdad, Farrakhan met with Saddam Hussein and expressed his hope that the U.S. would “halt its mass murder of Iraqis” — a reference to the economic hardships caused by the post-Gulf War sanctions imposed on Iraq.
In February 1998, Farrakhan sent a cordial and supportive letter to Saddam: “Your Excellency, we who have grown up in Islam inside of America understand that the West wants to destroy you, sir, in order to make an example out of your destruction to all strong Muslim leaders. You are a visionary, and they want to destroy your vision! If they are able to bring you down, that will serve as a warning to Brother [Qadhafi] in Libya; to Brothers Hassan Turabi and [President] Omar Bashir in the Sudan; it will mean a setback for the goal of unity [among Muslims].”
In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Farrakhan stated that America had insufficient proof of Osama bin Laden‘s and al-Qaeda‘s culpability. “They [American government officials] have lied before,” he said, “and there’s no guarantee they’re not lying now.”
Appearing on CNN’s Late Edition in 2002, Farrakhan portrayed America’s contemplated attack on Iraq as an unprovoked act of aggression against a regime that posed no tangible threat to the U.S. “I would feel so much better,” he said, “if the government of the United States of America would not seek to make Saddam Hussein a trophy for the reelection of President Bush. Saddam Hussein is not responsible for the collapse of Enron and thousands of American citizens losing their life savings.” Added Farrakhan: “[S]anctions [are] a weapon of mass destruction [against the Iraqi people]. America is angry with Saddam Hussein because his people love him. And they want to punish the Iraqi people to make the Iraqi people rise up and overthrow Saddam. They [the Iraqis] had a so-called election, a referendum. Ninety-nine percent of the people vote[d] for their man. You can’t get that in America. They love their man.”
On Black Entertainment Television in July 2002, Farrakhan asked, “How is America so righteous, with blood dripping from [its] hands of the peoples of the world? How has America all of a sudden become so righteous that she can now go to Iraq and set that man [Saddam] down?”
In the February 17, 2005 issue of The Final Call, Farrakhan condemned the United States for seeking “to change Islam, to make Islam suitable and non-threatening to Western hegemony over the entire world.” “[T]he war [against Iraq] is not just against brutal dictators,” he said. “The war, at the root, is against Islam. The government will not admit to that, but I see signs. … I say to you that there’s no way that I, as a Muslim, could countenance my children or grandchildren fighting a war against fellow believers in any part of the world.”
In the wake of Hurricane Katrina which devastated America’s Gulf Coast in August 2005, Farrakhan accused President Bush of ordering that one of New Orleans’ strategically located levees be dynamited so as to enable the flood waters to kill a maximum number of black people. “I heard from a very reliable source, who saw a 25-foot deep crater under the levee breach,” said Farrakhan “It may have been blown up to destroy the black part of town and keep the white part dry.”
For many years, Farrakhan has ranked among the most influential black figures in America. He draws enormous, standing-room-only crowds of listeners wherever he speaks. An October 1992 lecture he gave in Atlanta actually outdrew a World Series game played there that same night. In 1996 the National Newspaper Publishers Association, which represents 200 black-owned publishers, gave Farrakhan its “Newsmaker of the Year” award — for which one criterion was the demonstration of “a higher level of moral authority.” Farrakhan’s October 16, 1995 “Million Man March” drew several hundred thousand attendees. Though officially billed as a “day of atonement,” a significant portion of the event focused on America’s historical and allegedly continuing assault on black people. “The real evil in America,” Farrakhan said that day, “is the idea that undergirds the setup of the Western world, and that idea is called white supremacy.”
In 2005 Farrakhan organized the Millions More Movement to mark the tenth anniversary of the Million Man March, and to demand that the U.S. government increase its spending on welfare programs designed to recompense blacks for the suffering that America has historically inflicted on them and their forebears.
Impugning the U.S. government for supporting “the State of Israel on Palestinian lands,” Farrakhan has cultivated a friendly relationship with the leaders of Neturei Karta, a small Jewish organization that opposes Israel’s existence.
Farrakhan has been a mentor and role model to many black radicals, among the most notable being Malik Zulu Shabazz and the late Khalid Abdul Muhammad.