Posted by: exiwp | August 9, 1985

The Honorable Louis Farrakhan: A Minister for Progress (1985, 1987)

NOTE: Former National Alliance Editors Michael Hardy and William Pleasant-renounced Fred Newman’s International Worker’s Party in the early ’90s. Michael Hardy is now a civil rights attorney and works closely with the Rev. Al Sharpton. William Pleasant is a political and community activist in the south. The same holds true for Dennis Serrette-the New Alliance Party’s 1984 presidential candidate. Although his name was cited in this 1987 introduction, Serrette had by then resigned from (and publicly repudiated) Newman’s cult. Finally, contrary to the fawning posture depicted below, IWP cadre were routinely counseled that “Louis Farrakhan is a black fascist.”

The Honorable Louis Farrakhan: A Minister for Progress
THE COMPLETE HISTORIC INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL HARDY AND WILLIAM PLEASANT FROM THE NATIONAL ALLIANCE

New Alliance Publications (1985, 1987)

Preface to the Second Edition

Since Minister Farrakhan’s 1985 interview with the Alliance, the attacks against him have not diminished. Castigated in the racist corporate-owned media as an anti-Semite and hate-mongerer whenever the opportunity arises, Farrakhan has for the most part shunned the political limelight and devoted most of his energies to promoting his P.O.W.E.R. economic development program and strengthening the Nation of Islam. Yet again and again, Farrakhan has been applied as a litmus test for Black politicians. Many, when posed with the choice of denouncing Farrakhan or remaining in the white supremacist Democratic Party fold, have capitulated-placing their location in that party of the white rich above their commitment to Black political independence. Some exceptions stand out, among them Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, Michigan Congressman John Conyers and Illinois Congressman Gus Savage. The denunciation of Farrakhan was demanded as the price that Dr. Lenora Fulani, the New Alliance Party’s 1986 New York gubernatorial candidate, would have to pay to be included in the debates with the liberal incumbent Mario Cuomo, Republican Andrew O’Rourke and Denis Dillon of the arch-reactionary Right-to-Life Party. Fulani refused to repudiate him. Declared Manhattan State Senator David Paterson, a leader of Jesse Jackson’s 1984 New York Democratic Party Primary campaign, in response to O’Rourke’s demand for Fulani’s exclusion: “He has dredged up the issue of Farrakhan, and that will always be held as the sword over the heads of the progressive Black politicians. Any time some issue of controversy arises, this will be brought up to destroy us or put us in our place and brand us as anti-Semitic.”

Minister Louis Farrakhan, a friend of Libyan leader Muammar El Qaddafi hounded by the U.S. government wherever he goes (in 1986. Farrakhan was harassed and barred from speaking in Jamaica, Great Britain and Nigeria at the insistence of the State Department), a respected African-American leader dedicated to Black liberation above all else, strikes terror in the hearts of corporate America. The role that he will play in the next critical period in the struggle for Black political empowerment is unknown. But one thing is certain: Minister Louis Farrakhan remains a force to be reckoned with.

Introduction

A storm of public controversy has followed Minister Louis Farrakhan, the brilliant and ruthlessly uncompromising guardian of the Nation of Islam, since the first moment of his entry into national politics in the early stages of Reverend Jesse Jackson’s 1984 presidential campaign. Branded as an extremist, a fascist, and a Black Nazi by the white, corporate-controlled media, he has been the target of a vitriolic hate campaign, unquestionably designed by the CIA, to isolate him from the Afro-American masses, to vilify him in the eyes of the international Jewish community, and to identify him as an obsessed cultural nationalist whose dreams of Black enterprise detach him from a genuinely progressive social vision.

The CIA is lying, as they have done many times in the past in their efforts to undermine and destroy significant revolutionary Black leaders. Just as they tried to tell us that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a communist-controlled philanderer, Malcolm X a willful egocentric, and the Angolan MPLA leader Dr. Antonio Agostinho Neto a drunk, they are now busy painting a picture of Minister Farrakhan as evil incarnate, a Black devil, an anti-Semite, and a political reactionary.

Fortunately, we have some weapons against the CIA’s disinformation campaign. One is The National Alliance newspaper, to which Minister Farrakhan granted an exclusive interview in November 1985. In this interview, conducted by Alliance national news editors Michael Hardy and William Pleasant, which appeared originally as a three-part series and is reprinted in full in this pamphlet, the Minister engages in a thoughtful, poignant, and incisive review of his own history as a religious and political leader, his own successes and mistakes, his conflicts over tactical direction, and his absolute commitment as a progressive leader to the struggle against exploitation. The interview with Hardy and Pleasant grew out of a nearly two-year relationship between the Nation of Islam and the Black-led, multi-racial political community identified with The National Alliance newspaper and the organization with which it is most closely aligned-the New Alliance Party (NAP). The actual history of that relationship speaks volumes in rebuttal against the CIA-orchestrated campaign which brands Minister Farrakhan as an anti-Semitic reactionary.

Relations between the Nation and NAP first began during the 1984 Presidential campaign. Both were supporting Reverend Jackson’s bid for the Democratic Party nomination and both were severely angered by the treatment Jackson received at the San Francisco convention. NAP, after backing Jackson’s Primary campaign, managed to put an Afro-American trade union leader and socialist, Dennis Serrette, on the ballot in 33 states as an independent to carry forth the Rainbow social vision that Jackson had placed on the national agenda. In areas where Serrette was picking up the most visible support, like the city of Chicago and the state of Mississippi, Serrette began to attract local members and followers of the Nation, many of whom were refusing to support the candidacy of Walter Mondale, even though Jackson had formally, if reluctantly, endorsed him. The Serrette campaign was a grassroots, poor people’s campaign, and much of the contact with voters took place in the kitchens and living rooms of southern towns, where followers of the Nation were intrigued to meet Serrette and Vice Presidential running mate, Nancy Ross, a Jewish activist from New York. Serrette (who had shared the dais with Minister Farrakhan at a meeting of the National Conference of Black Mayors in St. Louis in 1984) and Ross had publicly urged Jackson not to cave in to pressure to repudiate Farrakhan and shared with the many members of the Nation a profound disappointment when he eventually did.

While touring the Boston area, Ross was introduced to Minister Don Muhammad, the head of the Nation’s Boston Temple 11, by Ken Davis, the Director of the Roxbury YMCA who attended the Democratic Convention as a member of the Independents for Jackson and Serrette delegation. Ross and Muhammad began a serious and intense dialogue, which established ongoing contact between the Minister and the NAP chapter in Boston.

Meanwhile, in Chicago, a long-time Jackson associate, a co-founder of Operation PUSH and close ally of Minister Farrakhan, Thomas Todd, publicly announced after the Democratic Convention that he refused to support Mondale, and urged Black voters to take other options available to them, one being Serrette. After the election Todd (who was a keynote speaker at the 1984 Saviour’s Day event) revealed that he himself had voted for the NAP ticket.

Serrette eventually polled almost 50,000 votes nationally. NAP had made a national statement about the viability of Black-led independent electoral politics. A new coalition was catalyzed by the campaign which included NAP, Thomas Todd, Mississippi activists Johnnie Walls and Owen Brooks (both long-time supporters of Minister Farrakhan), the Wisconsin Labor and Farm Party, and The National Alliance. The coalition, which described itself as a confederation of organizations and individuals, called itself the Rainbow Alliance and by the end of 1984 began dialogue on the creation of Black-led alternatives to the Democratic Party.

In February 1985, Rainbow Alliance member and NAP Midwest Coordinator Joyce Dattner, a Jewish progressive based out of Chicago, attended the Nation of Islam’s Saviour’s Day celebration. One of a handful of whites a tending the conference and the only Jew to attend the post-conference dinner Dattner was interviewed by Alliance editors Michael Hardy and Jacqueline Salit for an article entitled “Jewish Rainbow Leader Meets Farrakhan,” which appeared in The National Alliance on March 15. “I am someone who comes from a Zionist history and has moved to follow Black leadership,” Dattner said. “I heard Minister Farrakhan speak about women taking their rightful place and that any whites who wanted to support the movement are welcome. I know his attack on Zionism is a righteous thing. I know where the movement has come from and I heard statements today about where it’s going.” Shortly after the article was published, The Final Call contacted the Alliance for permission to reprint it. Permission was immediately granted.

Just prior to the publication of the Alliance article, the Rainbow Alliance held a meeting in New York City to which Minister Don Muhammad was invited. With the Nation, Todd, Walls, Brooks, and NAP present, Todd cautioned, “I want us to pause for a moment because I really didn’t want us to cavalierly pass by what has happened. This is a really powerful situation that is taking place here. I’m not sure we even understand how powerful it really is, how dangerous it is.” Minister Don was equally grave. “People are ready for the Rainbow,” he told the private gathering. “They have already been prepared for the Rainbow . If you don’t do it now, there will never be another opportunity. This is the time for a third party, an independent party . The donkey and the elephant don’t wear a thing . What is happening today, this thing, is power.”

Besides Todd and Muhammad, the other major speaker at that Rainbow Alliance meeting was NAP Executive Board member Fred Newman, a Jewish leader who had served as Serrette’s campaign manager in the 1984 race, who in May of that year had written a strong statement of support for Jackson and Farrakhan in the pages of the Alliance. “In the bourgeois press-the racist press-the call is for Jackson to repudiate Farrakhan,” wrote Newman. “Jackson quite properly won’t do so . Jackson’s refusal to repudiate Farrakhan is a valid moral and political response to hundreds of years of U.S. white supremacist bourgeois policies.”

Newman presented NAP’s plan to run a Rainbow Slate of candidates in New York City’s Democratic Primary with Newman running for Mayor against the notoriously racist neo-reactionary Ed Koch, the distinguished Black welfare leader Lorraine Stevens running for City Council President, and Puerto Rican Social Therapist Dr. Rafael Mendez running for Comptroller. Newman, who had been a primary architect of the 1981 Dump Koch movement, would be up against a Black contender, Assemblyman Herman “Denny” Farrell, the pro-Koch machine shill whose candidacy was designed to destroy the Black-Latino unity coalition against Koch that was assembling itself behind the liberal Puerto Rican contender, Herman Badillo. (Badillo dropped out when Farrell threw his hat into the ring.) Shortly after the Rainbow Alliance meeting, Todd and Minister Muhammad both endorsed the Rainbow Slate.

At the end of March, Newman traveled to Boston where he and Minister Muhammad held a joint press conference in response to a series of threatening attacks on Minister Farrakhan by the Jewish Defense Organization, an ultra-reactionary split from the right-wing Jewish Defense League. The two leaders-one a Muslim and one a Jew-spoke out for Black-Jewish unity against racism and anti-Semitism. “What our campaign is about,” said Newman (referring to the Rainbow Slate’s entry into the New York City Democratic Primary) “is to expose the way in which racial divisions are used by the Democratic Party machinery that rules New York to make sure that none of the oppressed peoples of that city get the necessary goods and services and support that is due all the people of New York-Black, Puerto Rican, Asian, Jewish, gay, straight, women, men. The whole population is being profoundly used by a Mayor, Ed Koch, who is fanning the flames of racial divisions to cover over what is fundamentally a pro-corporate social policy. We’re not going to defeat that social policy until we carefully, sharply expose those who benefit from racism.” Minister Muhammad spoke next. “For the first time, Jews who are genuinely concerned about the ultimate welfare will create the total destruction of the state of Israel if that welfare is not resolved. Those things that have divided Blacks will create a total destruction if not addressed. This is a movement not initiated by anyone but the people concerned. There is a move afoot in this country-all over the world-where people are looking for answers for themselves. They want to be the ones to decide whether or not they are in control of their destiny. This is what is forging a unity that’s never been seen before .”

The Newman/Stevens/Mendez campaign was hard-hitting and controversial-its controversiality highlighted by an endorsement from a leading figure in the Muslim movement. The slate’s political exposé of the Farrell Fix, and of his failure to come out against Koch in 1981, created a dramatic stir. Newman, Stevens, and Mendez together polled a total of 115,000 votes on Primary day, laying the basis for the next phase of the NAP tactic in which Dr. Lenora Fulani, a prominent developmental psychologist and greatly respected independent Black political leader would take over Newman’s place at the head of the slate in an independent run for Mayor. For his part, Farrell endorsed Koch the day after the Primary, having done his best to disrupt a multi-racial, anti-machine effort.

But Farrell’s job was not yet finished. Koch needed one more thing from him, and Farrell gave it willingly. Days before Minister Farrakhan’s eagerly anticipated appearance at Madison Square Garden, Farrell held a press conference with David Dinkins, winner of the Democratic nomination for Manhattan Borough President (which virtually guaranteed him the distinction of being the first Black member of New York City’s Board of Estimate in 9 years). Together they repudiated Minister Farrakhan, calling him an anti-Semite and urging Blacks to stay away from the Garden.

On October 6, some 36 hours before the minister’s scheduled appearance at the Garden, Fulani and Stevens, together with Black leaders Father Lawrence Lucas and Jitu Weusi, held a press conference outside City Hall to repudiate Dinkins and Farrell. Outside the Garden, Fulani supporters distributed 20,000 copies of a leaflet welcoming Minister Farrakhan, and inside the Garden, Fulani sat on stage with a handful of notables, at the invitation of the Muslim leader.

Referring to the Dinkins/Farrell attack, Minister Farrakhan charged in his speech: “You Black leaders kill your own people at the insistence of your overseers . The Black leaders who have raised their voices against Black people don’t have any more power. Black leaders, you are finished. Black leaders are finished if you stand with the enemy of your people, if you want to be an apologist for white people and condemn your brother without a fair hearing . The reason David Dinkins would do this is because he doesn’t fear us, he fears white people . Because when the leader sells out the people, he should pay a price for that. Don’t you think so? . We should make examples of them, so that when the next one comes along he will fear the wrath of the people.” The crowd of 30,000 cheered.

Now the fight was on in earnest. Koch ordered more police protection for Dinkins, charging that Farrakhan had threatened Malcolm X’s life shortly before his murder, and thus Dinkins was in danger. TV commentator Gabe Pressman interviewed Malcolm’s widow, Betty Shabazz, and provoked her into airing her private grief and anger at those in the Nation who had opposed her husband’s split with Elijah Muhammad. The Amsterdam News published a front page headline demanding that Farrakhan come clean about his “role” in Malcolm’s death.

In the meantime, Fulani was drawing growing support in the Black and progressive communities. At a public forum sponsored by The National Alliance and the Brooklyn-based Daily Challenge, Minister Allah Muhammad, head of the Nation’s New York mosque, endorsed her candidacy. A contingent of women members of the Nation pledged to work for Fulani on Election Day-and did. Fulani’s campaign poster read: “Minister Louis Farrakhan raised the question of independent Black leadership. Lenora Fulani is the answer.”

When the votes were counted, the New Alliance Party ticket had polled close to 30,000 votes, with Fulani beating every other left-of-center independent candidate by a landslide. Though whited-out by the press, the Fulani campaign had struck a responsive chord. New Black leadership was emerging and so were the attacks on that leadership. The controversy around Minister Farrakhan continued to rage as the Koch-inspired inquiry into his “role” in Malcolm’s death proceeded. It was then that Minister Farrakhan responded to the Alliance’s request-by then several months old-for an interview.

Seated in his headquarters in Chicago’s Black Southside, Minister Farrakhan put to rest any notion that he was not on the side of human progress and liberation. And so he continues to be hounded by the corporate press and its CIA coaches. Minister Farrakhan has also been the target of terrorist threats. In November 1985, the Jewish Defense Organization (JDO) circulated a death-list after its bomb attack on the offices of the Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee in California. Arab-American activist Alex Odeh was killed in that assault. The JDO death-list predictably named Minister Farrakhan first, followed by the Black-led New Alliance Party.

In the face of this open threat against the lives of Black progressives, the U.S. Left remained silent, failing even to mention Farrakhan and NAP-the leading targets of Zionist terror in a full-page ad denouncing JDO thuggery in The New York Times. Likewise, when Minister Farrakhan set out to present his message to people of color in the Caribbean, Africa, and Europe, he was greeted with open contempt by several U.S. client regimes. In Britain, Farrakhan was held prisoner for 9 hours at London’s Heathrow Airport by order of the Home Secretary. Describing the militant Muslim theologian as “not conducive to the public good in view of the fact that he would make speeches or statements that would disrupt racial harmony,” the British government, obviously with U.S. prompting, forbade Minister Farrakhan to address British Black and Islamic organizations which had invited him to speak. Only days later, 10,000 Nigerians would watch in horror as Minister Farrakhan was forced from a speaker’s podium at gunpoint. Under direct orders from the Chief of Security of Nigeria’s right-wing military junta, a squad of Black soldiers threatened to kill the guardian of the Nation of Islam if he attempted to speak to an enthusiastic Lagos crowd. In both incidents, the hand of the U.S. State Department was appallingly evident.

And just as they had ignored the death threats against Minister Farrakhan, the official U.S. Left ignored the harassment of the Black mass leader abroad. The career of this progressive Black leader has been fraught with danger, and the government attacks against him recall ominously the government attacks against the beloved Malcolm X. It is in view of this that Practice Press is proud to reprint here, with the generous permission of The National Alliance, its profound, searching, and provocative interview with the most progressive religious leader on the American political landscape.

Reprinted with the interview are a number of articles from The National Alliance by Executive Editor Jacqueline Salit, News Editors William Pleasant and Warren Liebesman, and Contributing Editor Jeff Roby, commenting on political and historical sues raised by the interview.

The Honorable Louis Farrakhan:
A Minister for Progress

THE COMPLETE HISTORIC INTERVIEW WITH MICHAEL HARDY AND WILLIAM PLEASANT FROM THE NATIONAL ALLIANCE

I’m issuing from your newspaper a challenge to the government of America, to the Senate or the Congress, to all of those who want to see this happen: Do everything you can against me, don’t spare me one second, and I will prove that Almighty God Allah is with me. I will win against all of you because I am right and the truth is with me!

Contrary to the copious scribblings of the corporate-owned media, Minister Louis Farrakhan has neither claws nor fangs; he does not rant or howl. Louis Farrakhan is a rather handsome, soft-spoken, and thoughtful middle- aged Black man. Dressed in a sharp brown three-piece suit, he warmly welcomed us, National Alliance News Editors Michael Hardy and William Pleasant, to his office in the middle of Chicago’s teeming Black South Side last Tuesday. Once we had exchanged pleasantries, Farrakhan, Hardy, Pleasant, the Minister’s press agent Wahid Muhammad, and a somewhat imposing bodyguard got down to the business at hand.

Minister Farrakhan had contacted the Alliance a week before through Wahid Muhammad to arrange an interview. Since the Minister’s October rally at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the Alliance had anticipated a meeting with the Muslim leader, but problems in scheduling arose as he found himself pulled here and there by the demands of his organization. Now, more than a month later, with the political climate around Minister Farrakhan on the verge of conflagration, the interview that follows seems even more timely.

Held in the headquarters of the Nation of Islam s newspaper The Final Call, a pre-Depression era bank building complete with a beautifully restored stained-glass ceiling, the interview was relaxed, animated, and at times powerfully moving. Minister Farrakhan gave his opinions readily, always conscious of the role that the media have played in the destruction of independent Black leadership. That same sentiment informed our questioning of the Muslim leader. Minister Farrakhan is a figure not only of international, but historic, significance, one whose uncompromising stand for Black liberation shakes the American Empire to its roots. He is that most feared of all African-American leaders, the dreaded “Black messiah, “the nightmare of J. Edgar Hoover and his CIA/FBI successors. It was with this in mind that we approached Minister Farrakhan, determined as Black journalists that we would not allow ourselves to be used by “the man” to harm him.

With the Harlem-based New York Amsterdam News calling for Farrakhan to confess his “role” in the assassination of Malcolm X, and erstwhile progressive television moderator Gil Noble proclaiming from a New York City College platform, “His role with Malcolm cannot be excused, cannot be condoned, cannot be explained away.. .He has to tell us about that and we are going to have to swallow it or do whatever is necessary “(one wonders why Noble didn’t ask this critical question of the Minister during his marathon video interview with him currently being aired on ABC), it is no accident that the Muslim leader chose to tell his story to the Alliance. For the next three weeks, The National Alliance will run Minister Farrakhan’s responses to questions dealing with such diverse and controversial topics as Jesse Jackson, independent politics, gays, anti-Semitism, socialism, and Islam. In this week’s installment, Minister Farrakhan speaks of his alleged role in the assassination of Malcolm X.

Words alone do not convey the passion, grief, and anger of Minister Farrakhan to the reader. In the process of answering our questions about Malcolm X, he seemed to relive the torment of 1965 when, as a devoted follower of Malcolm X and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, he was forced to choose between two “fathers.” What follows is Minister Farrakhan ‘s response to charges that he conspired in the murder of Malcolm X and his clear, precise analysis of how the conflict between Malcolm and Elijah Muhammad was made to order for the CIA, and others ruthlessly bent on attacking the Black liberation movement.

The National Alliance: We’re going to raise something that s getting a lot of press play in New York City, and that is Betty Shabazz’s repudiation of you. The press in New York, and now some Black politicians and even Ed Koch, have opportunized off that so far as to say they condemn you for an alleged role in the murder of Malcolm X. Can you talk a little about what happened between you and Malcolm?

Minister Farrakhan: Let me first say about Mrs. Shabazz that I think, after viewing the telecast in which she was interviewed by Gabe Pressman of NBC, that she did a very excellent job in trying to keep her remarks in a context and in a light where she wouldn’t be attacking anyone. Mrs. Shabazz went to that show to talk about her husband. That was the reason that they invited her. But it appeared as though the show was really about Farrakhan. And so Gabe Pressman kept prodding her and prodding her, until he touched a nerve.

And what was that nerve? That nerve, of course, was the assassination of her husband. And so, she responded as a woman who has borne an extraordinary amount of pain over these last 21 years. And I-as a member of the Nation of Islam, who was a contemporary of Malcolm, who disagreed with Malcolm in his vilification of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad and forthrightly spoke against Malcolm-naturally Mrs. Shabazz could not have any warm, tender feelings for me, given the whole scenario. Proof of the fact that all that they wanted was for Mrs. Shabazz to condemn me was the fact that when she said that I was an opportunist and that she regretted the day-the unfortunate day-she had ever met me. That became news all over the country the next day.

It is clear to me that my popularity is growing and it is also clear to me that every effort of the establishment media to rupture that popularity has been taken. Now, to take Malcolm as a hero of the Black struggle and in some way attempt to make Louis Farrakhan guilty for Malcolm’s assassination is really a blow that is not just low; it strikes you at your ankles if someone is shooting for your stomach, that is as low as you can get. But the press doesn’t really care; they know that there is nothing that they can charge me with that has come up in ten years. I have never been investigated for any part or complicity in the assassination of Malcolm X; I have never been mentioned in the early writings on Malcolm’s assassination; my name never came up, because I was not a major player in the Nation of Islam. I was a young fiery Minister out of Boston-one of Malcolm’s protégés. But it was not until 1971 or 1972 that I began to become popular and rebuilt the esteem of the Muslim community (which was totally destroyed after the assassination of Malcolm X) that little stickers began showing up in the subways of New York raising the question “What does Farrakhan know about the murder of Malcolm X?”

Then, in 1974, this was raised again. In 1975, with the departure of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad from among us and the assumption of leadership of his son, Iman Warith D. Muhammad, my subsequent removal from New York City and transfer to Chicago, I was out of the public view. Therefore, there was no need anymore to talk about this alleged knowing or part in the assassination of Malcolm X. In 1984, when I became a national public figure again, then it started being dropped in articles, “Well, this is not the first time that Farrakhan has threatened somebody” (when I allegedly threatened [Washington Post reporter] Milton Coleman). Then NBC picked it up on the nightly news when they ran a thing on “death threats” that Farrakhan made to certain people, etc.

Now, what is the truth of all of this? First Louis Farrakhan (as Louis X) was converted by the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, but I came up under the tutelage of Malcolm X. He was my mentor, he was a man that I deeply loved and deeply admired, and I really adored him as my father in the movement. We were very close at that time in our development. Betty hints, and even said to me once, that Malcolm took me off of drugs. This is not true. Louis Farrakhan never was on drugs for Malcolm or anybody else to take me off of drugs. Anyone who knows my history knows that I was never involved with drugs. As a youngster, I smoked a reefer or two, or three or four. I popped a few pills but that’s as far as that went. I never wanted to perform high. I never liked drinking. I smoked a little, but I never went in for drugs, so that is false.

Malcolm was endeared to me because of his tremendous strength and discipline, and I loved him because to me he was the strongest representative of the man I loved, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad. However, there would come a time when through envy and jealousy inside the movement, Malcolm began to wither in terms of faith and he began to become more angry and disillusioned. He felt that his leader and teacher, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, Was behind this jealousy and this envy and wanted to get rid of him, because Malcolm had become so popular that many writers had felt that Malcolm x was in fact the movement called the Nation of Islam.

The National Alliance: Could you talk a little more deeply about this internal struggle and this jealousy?

Minister Farrakhan: Yes. As a formidable champion of the teachings of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, there were many ministers and other workers in the Nation who wanted the attention that Malcolm got from the press, who wanted Malcolm’s place of honor and esteem in the Black community, who wanted to be this warrior that Malcolm exemplified. People adored Malcolm, even though they were maybe afraid to say it. So that kind of envy caused people within the movement to start sniping at Malcolm. And it was reflected in the Muhammad Speaks newspaper when Malcolm would do great things, and it would never get published in our own paper but it would get published in other papers. Malcolm was a sensitive man. He began to feel this. And then, of course, he began to feel that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad was behind what he was feeling. And to a measure that was true, but I would offer my explanation for that in another statement that I will make down the road a piece.

In 1963, Malcolm was challenging John Kennedy all over the country, calling him John the Fox because Kennedy outfoxed the civil rights movement and took charge of it and manipulated it for his own advantage. Kennedy really was not the friend of Black people that he was reputed to be, because all the time that they had Black leaders coming into the White House-you know, the Big Six were meeting-his brother the Attorney General Robert Kennedy was wiretapping Martin Luther King and others. It was a very big hypocritical thing. Malcolm saw deeply into this and was lambasting John Kennedy all over the country.

On that day in November when John Kennedy was assassinated, the country was in shock. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad was due to come to New York to speak. He cancelled his engagement and asked all of his ministers to make no statements with respect to Kennedy and his assassination. Malcolm obeyed, to a point. Since the New York Mosque had invested so much money in bringing Mr. Muhammad to the Manhattan Center and Mr. Muhammad had declined to come, in deference to the fact that he would not speak during this particular period, Malcolm asked the Honorable Elijah Muhammad whether he could speak. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said, “Yes you can, but remember to stay away from any reference to the assassination of John Kennedy.”

A reporter came to the meeting. His name was Mike Handler, I think, from The New York Times. And Yusef Shah, who was the captain, said, “No reporters,” and turned Mike away. When Malcolm heard that Mike was there he sent the brother back to get him and Mike ended up in the meeting. Malcolm got through the lecture fine. He spoke beautifully, and then a brother got up and asked a question about Kennedy’s assassination. In the question and answer period Malcolm made the now famous statement about Kennedy’s death: “It was a case of the chickens coming home to roost.”

As a result of that statement, the press played it up and it antagonized many whites who loved Kennedy. There were many Muslims in prisons under white Catholic guard. So the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, in my judgment wisely, silenced Malcolm for 90 days. That silence of Malcolm was as much for his protection as it was for his punishment. Because to punish him by silencing him meant that he would not be in the public for 90 days, which would give the public’s eye a chance to cool from the anger and hurt from seeing this charismatic President slain. It would also punish Malcolm for breaking the discipline of his leader’s instruction.

During this period Malcolm, in anger, lashed out and it was then that he made known to me and to others certain aspects of the private life of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, which had to deal with his taking wives from among his secretaries. Of course, the way it is put in the press it was a very slanderous accusation. Malcolm mentioned it to me, and of course I mentioned it to the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, which I told Malcolm I was going to do. Now, some may call that opportunistic, I don’t know, but I am a loyal man to my father. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad was more than any father, and of course Malcolm was too. But if I had to choose between Malcolm and the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, my choice would be the Honorable Elijah Muhammad who was Malcolm’s mentor and teacher. That was my decision! It’s painful, but I made it. And when Malcolm came out on television and on radio talking about Elijah Muhammad’s domestic life and putting it in the filthy way that he made these little teenage girls pregnant, we all became incensed with Malcolm. I was one of many who was angry with the brother.

Then of course, as you know, he broke with the Nation, went on his own and this was when all of these “revelations” came out. Well, that incensed all of us. Elijah Muhammad was the fountainhead of our moral conduct. A lot of Muslims didn’t believe it. They thought Malcolm was lying on Elijah Muhammad. I knew it to be the truth, but I also knew that the slant Malcolm gave it was designed public-wise to say that Elijah Muhammad was really an immoral man, an immoral teacher, and that Malcolm was a much more suitable man to lead Black people than was his teacher Elijah Muhammad.

The National Alliance: Are you saying that Malcolm X designed his revelations in competition with the Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s leadership?

Minister Farrakhan: I am saying in anger over being set down and in anger over feeling that his teacher did this because of jealousy and not out of teaching him a lesson because of discipline or not out of trying to protect him. He lashed out at his leader and teacher in anger, and the only thing he knew that would take people away from the movement was a revelation, a scandalous revelation about the personal life of Elijah Muhammad. And when he brought that out in the public, many of us were very incensed about this and many of us would have hurt Malcolm if we could have, but the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in truth told me and us to leave Malcolm alone! He said, “As long as Allah would permit me to suffer from Malcolm’s mouth I will do so-Leave Malcolm alone!” Those were his orders to us. And as an obedient servant of the Honorable Elijah Mohammad the only thing we could do was fight Malcolm in the public through words-as Malcolm threw mud on the Honorable Elijah Muhammad we defended and threw mud back on Malcolm.

In the meantime, back at the ranch in Washington, D.C., this was made to order for the CIA and the FBI. During that time, as you know, Malcolm’s home was firebombed. And Malcolm went to the New York City police department asking them for protection. One week later Malcolm X was dead. After Malcolm’s home was firebombed, there were no uniformed policemen anywhere to be found in the Audubon Ballroom. Somebody on the inside of Malcolm’s own organization prevailed upon Malcolm not to search on that day. And on that day, according to Talmadge Hayer-I can’t recall his Muslim name now-he came to the door to see whether there was searching, and when there was no searching he went back with those who were with him, got their guns, came into the audience and assassinated Malcolm X.

One man [Talmadge Hayer] was retrieved at the scene of that crime. Two men were picked up four days or so later. At that time there were 11 daily newspapers in New York and every one of the dailies were whipping up the idea that the Black Muslims had killed Malcolm X. Now they had to corroborate that by arresting two innocent men who were followers of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad in good standing in the Nation. I would not say that we did not in our own mind have evil in our heart towards Malcolm, but those two men were innocent. And those two men were sent to prison for 21 years. One has just gotten out, but one is still in prison for a crime that they did not commit. The government continued the story that the Black Muslims killed Malcolm so that they could ultimately charge Elijah Muhammad with the murder and use one stone to kill two birds. Since they hated Malcolm and they hated Elijah Muhammad, let them both cancel each other out, and white folks could go on with business as usual.

The National Alliance: You said that a person in Malcolm’s organization prevailed on Malcolm not to search that day. Do you know who that person was?

Minister Farrakhan: No sir, I don’t. Now I want to say further on that these two men who were registered Muslims in the Nation have taken lie detector tests, all kinds of things on television, which have all come up showing that these men did not have anything to do with the assassination of Malcolm X. The brother there that admitted that he did, and in court exonerated the other two, has since that time named all of the accomplices. The government refused to reopen the case, though they have the names from one who is the known assassin of Malcolm, yet they refuse to bring that up, go back to court, and let these two men go free. Why? What does Farrakhan know about that? Nothing! When did Farrakhan’s name come up? It never did! Ask any of them who were involved in the murder of Malcolm X: Did I, Louis Farrakhan, instruct them to do such?

Who paid them? There was some money that came up in some of the investigations. You know, Farrakhan was a poor, raggedy man up in Boston with used suits, with me and my children eating beans practically every day that I lived. Where did I get money to pay somebody? I mean, this is ridiculous. But it is because I am popular today, and there’s only one Black man in the Black community who has popularity dead to match my popularity living and that’s Malcolm X and/or Martin Luther King! So if you can tie me to the murder of Malcolm X you can put a cloud over Louis Farrakhan and diminish him in importance to this community-and perhaps you can incite someone to murder him.

That’s the plot. That’s the plan. And unfortunately, Gil Noble, who like Malcolm had made a speech to members of his own profession and had gotten through his speech and then a sister came up and I mean scorned Betty Shabazz for what Betty had done on television. Gil Noble, emotionally coming to the defense of Betty, said what he said. And his fellow reporter sitting there took it back to The Amsterdam News, to Mr. [Wilbert] Tatum, who is married, I understand, to a Jew, and wrote one of the most vicious editorials on me, and who, it is clear, has no love for Louis Farrakhan. And it’s, maybe, clear that he doesn’t have any love for Gil Noble. Because the man that wrote the article could not put a headline on The Amsterdam News. The headline could only come by the permission of Mr. Tatum, and Mr. Tatum allowed that to be the headline and, of course, Nat Hentoff is coming out with it, and there may be something coming out in Newsweek magazine.

They really want to build this thing up-that perhaps Farrakhan did have something to do with the assassination of Malcolm X-solely because they can’t bring me into any court of law and prove nothing like that, so the only thing they can do is try me in the court of public opinion and use the awesome power of the media to vilify me and set me up for assassination. But I say this, with due respect to the power of the media: They can do everything that they can! I’m issuing from your newspaper a challenge to the government of America, to the Senate or the Congress, to all of those who want to see this happen: Do everything you can against me, don’t spare me one second, and l will prove that Almighty God Allah is with me. I will win against all of you because I am right and the truth is with me!

I could have very easily lashed out at Reverend Jackson, but this would have divided our community and weakened his going into the convention. I felt that it was better for Black people if I accepted his repudiation gracefully, asked Black people to continue to support him, to give him the maximum amount of leverage going into the convention, that he might get the best out of it for us.

In the last week’s installment of our interview with Minister Louis Farrakhan, he spoke about the events surrounding the assassination of Malcolm X, his relationship to Malcolm, and the split in the Nation of Islam when Malcolm left. Minister Farrakhan also responded to allegations that he played a role in Malcolm’s death.

This week, Minister Farrakhan tells the untold story of Reverend Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow presidential campaign: why he, as a religious leader, chose to involve himself in the campaign; the pressure on Jackson to dissociate himself from Farrakhan and how Jackson eventually bowed to that pressure; and his assessment of the campaign’s significance-including what he considers were errors of judgment and tactics.

A key to destroying the Rainbow was, of course, breaking up the relationship between Minister Farrakhan and Reverend Jackson. In this installment, the Minister talks about his repudiation by Jackson on the advice of those close to him and Farrakhan ‘sown decision not to respond with anger despite his belief that the move was both apolitical mistake and personally hurtful.

As Minister Farrakhan looks back on 1984, he examines the lessons of that intense and painful year from his vantage point as a leader of the Afro- American people who has sought to support other strong leaders capable of leading Black people to the victories for which they have struggled so long. In our conversation with the Minister, we travel with him back down the road to 1984 to uncover the twists and turns of an historic political journey.

The National Alliance: We want to say first how very pleased this paper is to be able to interview you. We’ve been very supportive of you and very committed to making sure that your views are put out in a way that is not distorted, because we have clearly sensed your leadership role in the Black community, your role in leading our people to their liberation. We also want to say that we want to do this interview so that you can speak very freely and openly, because there is no other paper in this country that will present your views as you put them out. Like you, we are also committed to developing new Black leadership in this country, leadership that does not sell our people out.

Minister Farrakhan: Thank you very much. Can I say this? It has given me great pleasure to read your publication and to welcome such a publication. I don’t know how old the publication is, but I imagine it is fairly new. But when I read the articles in your paper-not just those written on myself, but the general tenor of the paper-I knew that this interview was more important than The Washington Post or The New York Times, as far as I’m concerned. Because I see brothers and sisters who cut across racial lines and class lines trying to do something constructive for all oppressed people, and that impressed me very much. With that in mind, let’s get right to it.

The National Alliance: We’re going to run the clock back to 1984. Why did you enter electoral politics around the Jesse Jackson campaign?

Minister Farrakhan: In all honesty, in 1982 I believe it was, in a column written by William Raspberry of The Washington Post, he made reference to a research group out of Maryland that is advising those invest in the cities that they should not invest in the cities because by 1983 the cities would explode, because the ghettos were a veritable social tinderbox. When read that article, I knew that this research group was on target because the mood of our people was very, very angry, filled with despair. The rate of unemployment was going up, and Jesse Jackson came along in 1983 to decide to run.

It was not that I thought necessarily that he might win, though I felt if he could truly get a Rainbow Coalition he could win. And evidently others felt so too; because their main goal, it seems to me, is to destroy the possibility of a Rainbow Coalition. And so I felt that Jesse Jackson, more than any other Black leader at that time. could inspire the masses of Black people with hope. And if he had inspired us with hope, that would delay that day of despair that would cause Blacks to revolt. I felt that the police departments of this country are well prepared to slaughter our people and have the mentality to do such, and I wanted to try and avoid that at all costs. So with Reverend Jackson, I felt that I should align myself with him.

Secondly, I felt that Jesse’s life was in great danger. I felt that any man that could build a true Rainbow would be a very dangerous, dangerous man in this society. And since the Secret Service was not protecting Reverend Jackson, I felt that it was our duty; we took a vote on it and all of us agreed that we not only would provide security for him, but we would raise money and ultimately we would register and vote to support Reverend Jackson.

The National Alliance: That was actually one of the Nation of Islam’s first electoral campaigns.

Minister Farrakhan: It was the first for us.

The National Alliance: Why hadn’t you previously been involved in electoral politics?

Minister Farrakhan: As students of the Honorable Elijah Muhammad, he never took an active part in the political process, at least not visibly. But there were some Black candidates that he felt very strongly about and so he encouraged us to support them. One of the candidates that he most admired among our people, of course, was Adam Clayton Powell. He hinted in his remarks on electoral politics that what we needed was strong, uncompromising Black politicians chat would not sell us out; and that when we found that kind of person, that it was a duty of all of us to back that kind of candidate. I felt that in Reverend Jackson we had that kind of a man and I felt that I was not deviating from the principles laid down by Mr. Muhammad by supporting a Black man that I felt had the best interest, not only of Black people at heart, but had the best interests of the country at heart.

The National Alliance: We wanted to read you a quote. This is from Tony Brown’s Journal [published in the New York Voice, April 1985]. This was actually after the Jackson campaign where you said, “I don’t think that Jesse can look forward to my support four years from now, they felt that this was the time that I had to be dumped. He would not be able to make the great speech that he made and the little crumbs that those around him might get from the Democratic Party, they might lose that. So they ended up with a speech and they still got nothing.” I believe you were responding to the way in which the Democratic Party treated Jesse throughout the campaign, disrespected him; disrespected Black people. Could you say a little bit more about what your thoughts were in saying that, and f in thinking about Jesse and some of your thoughts in terms of 1988, whether you see yourself continuing to be involved on a national level in particular.

Minister Farrakhan: Well, I was disappointed, but full of understanding that Reverend Jackson finally repudiated me on the basis of a lie. Many of his staff people, including the former President of PUSH, Tom Todd, was sitting three feet from me in this building when the statement was made and he advised Jesse’s advisors that Farrakhan did not say what the press said that he said. But they really did not care. At that time I had become an albatross around Reverend Jackson’s neck and they felt that this was the right moment to dump me. And so, Reverend Jackson, with the aid of his advisors, repudiated me and advised those that were with him to do the same. This hurt me, but remembering the schism that was in the Nation of Islam over Malcolm X-a very painful chapter in our history-I did not want in the days of my maturity to do what I did in the days of my youth.

I could have very easily lashed out at Reverend Jackson, but this would have divided our community and weakened his going into the convention. I felt that it was better for Black people if I accepted his repudiation gracefully, asked Black people to continue to support him, to give him the maximum amount of leverage going into the convention, that he might get the best out of it for us. As it turned out, the Brother went into the convention, and as you forestated, was disrespected. And it appeared to me that he opted not to fight at this convention for the needs and wants of those who stood in the rain and had suffered to bring about the candidacy to the point where it was.

I think he, under advice, opted to make a great speech with a vision of four years down the road in his heart and mind. A speech that would try to heal the wounds of this political campaign and give him a base of solid support among Blacks and non-whites, and then whites, that he could begin to build for 1988. In my judgment, it was a tactical mistake. I don’t think a wise man who has the moment in his hand should let that moment slip for four years down the road (which is at best very unpredictable) because we live in a world where international policies and politics and the factors of power are changing so rapidly. In one year from the day that he gave up the struggle, hoping for four years down the road, things may radically change so that he is not effective.

The proof of what we say is the fact today that Jesse became in that campaign the single most important Black leader in the history of our struggle in this country. The very thing that J. Edgar Hoover had worked so hard to prevent-which was the rise of a “Black messiah” who could bring Black people together and unite the nationalist groups-had been accomplished in Reverend Jackson. But unfortunately Reverend Jackson was reaching for the Rainbow and lost what he had in his hand, which was 90-92 percent of all his people, which would have given him the leverage and base of support probably for the next four years to concretely build the Rainbow.

But instead, by opting for four years down the road and not giving those who fought so hard for him some measure of victory by the way he fought-even if he bled and died to come out of it their champion, our champion, who lost but he fought for us-he still would have maintained that base of support and admiration in the Black community while he worked four years to extend that base to the Hispanic community, to the Arab community, to the Chinese community, the Mexican community and ultimately, of course, to win more and more whites. So I think he made a tactical mistake.

Thus, recognizing the fact that when the Jews attacked Reverend Jackson, and when they came out with the ads saying “Jews against Jesse” and no Jewish organization took out an ad saying, “Wait a minute, we’re Jews and we are not with this ad,” or the ad that they took out saying “Ruin Jesse Ruin,” that it’s one thing to win a campaign and defeat a candidate, but it’s another thing to ruin a man. And it was clear that there was a vindictive spirit in certain members of the Jewish community towards Reverend Jackson.

You see, I am now locked in a struggle with the Jewish community who totally reject me, and though the Black community accepts me (I don’t think Jesse could get support in the Black community without me) but at the same time he would lose segments of the white and the Jewish community if I stood by his side. So, it might be better that since this is my first step into politics that I step back out of it now and if Jesse wants to run in 1988, let him run on the steam that he can muster without my being a hindrance to him.

The National Alliance: What if there were some other prominent Black official or someone in the community who was planning to make an independent presidential run where there was clear national support for that kind of candidacy independent of the Democratic Party?

Minister Farrakhan: I would have to think about it very strongly. This was not a pleasant experience for me and I learned many, many lessons. I would hope that Jesse, if he did want to run, would not run on the Democratic ticket, but that he would take a stand on an independent party or an independent ticket free from the constraints of the Democratic Party. But I don’t know whether Jesse is willing to do that just yet. But I would have to weigh that very, very carefully. I will not say that I won’t get involved, but I can’t see myself getting involved with Reverend Jackson.

The National Alliance: Minister Farrakhan, when you were at Madison Square Garden, one of the themes of your speech was the crisis in Black leadership, how so often Black people elect Black officials out of love, out of a desire to see some change in their community, and then those Black officials turn around and join the club. That is, they become enemies of their community. How do you understand the crisis in Black leadership, and what do you see as the main crux of it? Is it problematic because of the ties of Black leaders to the Democratic Party or the lack of an independent alternative?

Minister Farrakhan: I think it is probably some of all of that. It is problematic that we are tied to the Democratic Party. It’s also problematic in that the so-called Black leadership that is moderate and responsible; is responsible to the leaders of the Democratic Party and responsible to white folks. And since they are responsible to white folks in the name of Black folks, it is very difficult for them to take very strong positions that may run counter to what the bosses feel is in the best interest of the Democratic Party and not necessarily in the interest of Black people.

So again, our Black leadership, particularly our civic organizations and our political leaders, are heavily financed by people outside of our own community. This is not their fault; this is really our own fault. We send our people to political office, but we don’t back them beyond the vote. But it takes money to back politicians. Others know this lesson; we have yet, evidently, to learn it. So wise Jewish persons put money behind Black candidates and they invest it in Black organizations. For what purpose? Because they want justice for all? Yes, but they want justice for themselves and they want to manipulate the direction of Black organizations and Black leaders and they want to be in a position to check the movement of Black leaders and Black organizations if we take a position that is radically in departure from what they feel is a proper position for us.

And so, that’s the crisis of Black leadership. It’s that Black leaders have become whores, and we sell ourselves to whomever pays the bill and so we don’t have too many independent Black leaders who have their hands in their own people’s hands exclusively. They have one hand or finger in the Black community’s hands and nine fingers and their feet under the table of some white person. And that’s the way it is. So that my experience today, standing up against the manipulation of Black politicians and Black organizations by elements of the white community, particularly Jewish persons, has created a crisis in Black leadership. You see, there was no crisis so long as nobody could present some alternative to what they are offering. It only became a crisis when another voice stood up that was not controlled by those same persons that they are responsible to. The pressure is put on them to repudiate this voice. So, then there is a big crisis.

The National Alliance: There was some study done out of the University of Michigan by the Institute for Policy Studies, a Black think tank. It was a poll of the Black electorate on the 1984 campaign that revealed overwhelmingly that Black people would have supported Jesse Jackson if he had run as an independent in 1984. The other questions in the study indicated that Black people in general supported a move towards a more independent political position in this country. I was wondering if you had seen that study and if you have any thoughts about those results.

Minister Farrakhan: I believe that. I didn’t see that, but I believe that. Reverend Jackson was not ready to bolt the Democratic Party and there are a lot of implications there. He just wasn’t ready to make that kind of move.

The National Alliance: Do you think he will ever be ready?

Minister Farrakhan: Oh, if they keep kicking him I’m sure he’d be ready. Some mules don’t move unless you hit them with a stick with a nail in it. And I think that Reverend Jackson is going to see that in the future he will have to do what he was a little reluctant to do in 1984.

We are not against Jews. We are against exploitation-.that should be clear. I cannot tolerate Black exploitation of Black people any more than I can tolerate it from white people. So we must be clear that we are condemning exploitation, we are condemning racism, we are condemning Zionism.

Minister Louis Farrakhan calls on all forces-Black, white, Muslim, Christian, nationalist, socialist, and communist-to join him in the fight against exploitation, in this, the final installment of The National Alliance’s historic interview. Laying to waste the charges that his politic can be equated with that of Hitler, Jimmy Swaggart or assorted fascist and right-wing demagogues, Minister Farrakhan lays out plainly a politic of inclusion rather than exclusion, of a multi-national, multi-ethnic liberation movement.

Minister Farrakhan is a religious thinker, and as such many of his positions are informed by his interpretation of the Holy Scriptures. Nowhere is this more apparent than in his discussion of homosexuality. But even as he speaks of homosexuality as a social illness-a position rejected by the Editorial Board of the Alliance-Farrakhan s comments are laced with a compassion and humanism which are afar cry from the shrill, anti-gay rantings of the white Christian Right. Moreover, it has been his clear intent, here and elsewhere, to establish dialogue on this and other critical issues.

Likewise, the Minister’s proclamation of jihad (holy war) against exploitation stands as the bedrock of his statements on Jews and anti-Semitism. Rather than betraying a primitive hatred, they illustrate a profound understanding of Black/Jewish relations in the crucible of racist, anti-Semitic, corporate America. For the Muslim leader, racism is a predominant component of exploitation of man by man. And as such, Minister Farrakhan recognizes a new trend in the progressive movement which has abandoned the easy reductionism of race-neutral class antagonisms characteristic of the Old Left and sought to round out its understanding of oppression in America.

In this concluding segment, Minister Farrakhan makes crystal clear his impact on the American political landscape. Far from introducing hatred, terror and bigotry (the mainstay of U.S. society from its birth) into the political process, Minister Farrakhan has opened the floodgates of Black political defiance which will increasingly shake the foundations of Establishment power-mongering to its core.

The National Alliance: On a recent panel discussion about you and the Nation of Islam on Gil Noble’s TV program “Like It Is,” one of the things that Paul Robeson, Jr. asserted over and over again in critiquing your POWER program was the need, in his view, to have political power before you can have economic power. And he also accused you of making enemies among the wrong people; presumably he meant that you have made enemies among Jewish people.

Minister Farrakhan: Well, I’m not the first to make enemies among the wrong people. The question is, are the wrong people the oppressors of the right people? And who are the wrong people? Do you mean those people in positions of power that can do me harm-are they the wrong people? Because they are persons in positions of power and have wealth, and they can push buttons to do all kinds of evil against me, does that mean that I should not speak the truth as I believe it and know it, simply because I might anger the wrong people? No, I have impressed the right people-the masses.

Now as far as Mr. Robeson’s attacks, some of the Old Left are really at heart just integrationists who want to negate the fact that there is a racial dynamic in this country as well as an economic and class dynamic. I think that we have to address all of those dynamics. We cannot leave race out, even though race is not totally there but race is at the root of it. Then, of course, you have class and then economics all through. So the more progressive New Left sees possibilities of an ally in Louis Farrakhan, in that I am not a capitalist, I don’t believe in the exploitation of the wealth of the masses to inure to the benefit of a few greedy people.

I believe that since we are living in a capitalist society we should use the instruments of capitalism, but the ownership of everything must be the common ownership by the masses of the people. I don’t believe the wealth of any nation should be in the hands of the few. The wealth of the nation should be owned by the masses, and those who are in political power are only the stewards of wealth that belongs to the masses of the people. Anything other than that tramples upon the inherent right of every citizen to be not just the breather of the air that is common, and the drinker of the water that is common, and the sharer of the sunshine that is common, but they must share [also] in the mineral strength that is common to their birthright of that land. So, I think that the New Left, or the progressive young Left, will be more sympathetic even though they have a disdain for religion. Because they recognize that religion has been used to absolutely chain the masses, and rather than recognize any good in the religion at all, they’d rather just leave religion alone and deal with practical universal applications of principles that are bound up in the nature of us as human beings, and bound up in the order of creation.

The National Alliance: Jack Newfield, a Village Voice writer, in an article titled “Farrakhan More a Menace to Blacks Than to Jews” published the day after your talk at Madison Square Garden, attacked you for not speaking out more against Reagan and the right wing. Instead, in Newfield’s view, you focused on Jews. Here is one quote from the Newfield piece: “Farrakhan s singling out of Jews for attack, as distinct from whites, is one proof of his anti-Semitism, but it also shows that he has no comprehension of class. I have not heard him condemn the institutional enemies of Black equality or the real holders of power, like the CIA, which has no Jews in its top structure, or the six biggest banks (none of which is owned by Jews) or the Supreme Court, which today includes not one Jew. Or Reagan’s cabinet, which has no Jews among its members. Farrakhan frequently speaks approvingly of Reagan, and is in the habit of comparing him to Lincoln. Farrakhan scapegoating of Jews is a detour from reality for blacks, who like all of us, need to understand the power structure as it exists.” Would you comment on this charge?

Minister Farrakhan: Okay, let’s go back over his words. First of all, Farrakhan has attacked the CIA. Farrakhan has attacked the conservative Supreme Court. Farrakhan most assuredly has attacked Reagan. When I say that Reagan is good for Blacks, the only reason I say that is not because he actually is good, but any man in a position of power as the President who puts his foot deep into the backside of Black people is pushing us more towards self-reliance. The old slave mentality that makes us think that as long as we have a friend in the White House we can negate making a friend in the Black house next door, that kind of thing works against us. When we have someone in the White House like Mr. Reagan he helps us, not because he wants to help us, but his wickedness helps us to find each other.

When we don’t have a friend in the White House, we don’t have a friend in the Supreme Court, we don’t have many friends in the Congress, then it behooves us to cut across these religious and political and class lines to find strength in each other-then we can move forthrightly towards our liberation as a solid wall because we don’t look towards the white father, we are looking towards each other. And I frankly think, brother, that every time we have felt that we’ve got a lovely friend in the White House you’ll find that there is an increase in the activity against socialists, or those so-called “misfits.” But when we know we don’t have a friend in the White House and a friend in the Supreme Court, I want to hear what my brother from the Left has to say. I’m willing to reason with him more because I ain’t got a friend up top. So I need to make as many friends and network a lot among the masses, and in this we grow as a people. Because if you can grow to the point, as a person who is a socialist, to accept me as a Muslim, and I can grow as a Muslim to accept my brothers and sisters who are socialists, respecting their ideology and knowing that there is good in it for the masses of the people all over the earth, then I think we’re growing through this intercourse that could only be made possible by dear Mr. Reagan being in the White House for four more years.

The National Alliance: How do you understand the charges against you of anti-Semitism, Minister Farrakhan?

Minister Farrakhan: Let me just say this. You know, none of the Jews that condemn me as being an anti-Semite have ever offered a definitive definition of anti-Semitism. The word itself, Semitic, deals with Afro-Asian people. If I am anti-Semitic, I am against myself. You have Arabs, and they are called Semitic people. Semi means half. They are in-between. There is a mixture of the blood of Africa and Asia and Europe in there, and you have what you call a Semitic people. The term Semitic comes from the name Shem, who was one of the sons of Noah.

Now, most of these that call me anti-Semitic are not Semites themselves. These are Jews that adopted the faith of Judaism up in Europe; they’re called Ashkenazi Jews. They have nothing to do with the Middle East-they’re Europeans. So now they want to call me an anti-Semite. Why don’t they call me anti-European, since they are for the most part European? They are not Semitic people. Their origin is not in Palestine.

The term anti-Semitism changes and shifts with the time to fit the circumstances of that hour. That has done so much to stifle criticism of what I term Jewish misbehavior. Now, Jews are no more saints than anybody else. If I can be critical of Irish people and they don’t call me anti-Irish and I can be critical of Italians or Greeks or Poles or any other white ethnic who has something to do with Black suffering and I am not called anti-that, why can’t I be critical of certain aspects of Jewish misbehavior, manipulation, exploitation of the Black experience? And if I do that, why paint me as an anti-Semite? Just say he’s critical of certain aspects of Jewish behavior. And if my criticism is founded in truth, then don’t condemn me, correct where you are wrong.

If Black people are going to be free, we have to control our own organizations, control our own artists, control the wealth that’s in our own community, and whoever is exploiting our ineffectiveness in this area right now, we have to stop this. If this means we have to go against Jews that are exploiting us, some other whites that are exploiting us, Arabs that are exploiting us, Koreans that are exploiting us, and some Blacks that are exploiting us, we must do it if we are to be free as a people. We are not against Jews. We are against exploitation-that should be clear. I cannot tolerate Black exploitation of Black people any more than I can tolerate it from white people. So we must be clear that we are condemning exploitation, we are condemning racism, we are condemning Zionism.

The National Alliance: Given that, what should progressive Jews (some of whom are readers of this newspaper) who generally want to follow the leadership of Black people, be doing to change the backward relations that have come to exist between Black and Jewish people?

Minister Farrakhan: First, we have to recognize what is truth. You know there is a Black organization called the NAACP, and it is an organization that Jews and Blacks were in from the beginning. It is an organization that has helped to advance every one of us. But if it is manipulative of the Black experience so that it is detrimental to us, then we ought to be able to speak about that. If, for instance, we are always the tenants and Jews are always the landlords; we are always the consumer, they are the producer; or we are always the talent and they’re the agent, the manager and the producer-this always puts us on the weak side of the relationship. We always are in the inferior position. We don’t want that anymore. If Black folk are to be free, we have to break all these kinds of inferior relationships and re-establish them along the lines of mutual benefit, equity, and justice. That’s what we are saying.

The National Alliance: At a recent meeting of the Rainbow Alliance in Boston, Minister Don Muhammad, leader of the Boston Mosque of the Nation of Islam, said very strongly that early on in building the Nation it was necessary to organize solely the Black community, but now that the Nation is rebuilding and with your growing stature as a Black leader it was time to reach out to other oppressed groupings. Do you see your leadership just in relation to Black people or to all oppressed people, and should that be something that other Black leaders should be thinking about?

Minister Farrakhan: In the process of growth, one is first interested in oneself, one’s family, one’s community. Whenever we stop growing we start deteriorating. It becomes a selfish, then a vain, wicked thing. As we begin to mature and we see the linkage of suffering in oppressed peoples all over the world, we become concerned for oppression period, and for those that are oppressed no matter what their color is, whether it be the Irish Catholics and Protestants in Ireland who are fighting against the Crown of England or fighting in some measure to unify themselves, or whether it be whites in Europe that feel that government has not stood for the real principles that would prolong their life on the earth, whether it be poor whites in Appalachia or whether it be people in the rice paddies in Viet Nam. Once you mature, you begin to see oppression for what it is, and if you are a champion of liberation for Black people and you are successful in freeing your people to a measure, you cannot stop until oppression and tyranny are rooted from the face of the earth. Anything less than that will cause you to be the very thing that you have condemned.

The National Alliance: Right now there is a heavy set-up being run against people with AIDS, including drug addicts, gay people, and Haitian people. They are running a game on these people right now, with the ultimate aim to quarantine them or even exterminate them. What is your position on gays and on the AIDS crisis?

Minister Farrakhan: That is a very difficult question, because I’m not a politician. I am a spiritual teacher, and out of that spiritual teaching comes a moral teaching that I happen to believe. I happen to believe that being homosexual is submission to circumstances rather than anything genetic or innate in the human being. I used to use a very strong term for homosexual until a homosexual told a friend of mine that they came to a lecture and they were so hurt by what I said that they probably would not ever come back to a speech that I made. But it caused me to think, there’s a human being that has a problem. I consider it a problem. Maybe they don’t consider it a problem, but AIDS is manifesting that there is a problem somewhere in this kind of social behavior.

Now, I don’t know what a politician would do, but I think if AIDS is a communicable disease it has to be quarantined until we can correct it. If I’m walking the streets with tuberculosis in the days when they didn’t have the kind of cure for tuberculosis as they have today, it was almost mandatory that they take me off the streets. That’s not a crime against my humanity; it is protection for my humanity and the humanity of others by taking me and putting me in a sanitarium until I can be relieved of that of which I am suffering. Then I can enter back into society.

The National Alliance: Aren’t you suspicious of this government all of a sudden becoming altruistically concerned with the health of the masses of poor Black people?

Minister Farrakhan: Of course it is suspicious, because the government has done nothing to stem the tide of alcohol, which is the number one destroyer of the people, and tobacco which is of course killing our people; the chemicals that they are putting in the foods are killing the people. So they’re not really concerned with health, but this thing has created such a fear in the people, and the hysteria if you will, as it was with herpes. When herpes started to be mentioned, you could tell the ignorance of the people about herpes caused great fear. Then AIDS came on top of herpes to drive herpes into a very minor class of disease, so there’s great fear about AIDS. In fact, most of the television stations, in order to secure their ratings that they might keep their advertising rates up, or to increase them, were doing stories on AIDS, so they were fostering the fear and were fostering the panic in the people.

Now what will this lead to politically? Mr. Koch, I have read recently, said he is going to crack down on some of the bathhouses and on the terrible sex that is going on in the bathhouses. Well, they knew this was going on all along, you see. But, if AIDS has become such a communicable disease now, that in Hollywood-you know I noticed this fellow that hosts the “Family Feud.” He always kissed women on the lips. I just happened to see him yesterday; it’s on the cheek now. So AIDS got him, it’s straightening him up a little bit. And AIDS is making some who are very promiscuous adopt another extreme posture; they are becoming celibate. So fear is causing people to reassess all the kinds of relationships that they are having. I think in the end it will turn out to be something good. I don’t know what the government has in mind with this, but it wouldn’t surprise me.

The National Alliance: At the forum that you gave at Madison Square Garden, you were surrounded by women and you talked very movingly about the role of women in the liberation struggle and within the Islamic community. How do you see your support for Black women in the liberation struggle? Why do you feel so many Black leaders seem to have trouble with the leadership of Black women?

Minister Farrakhan: Well, as Black men we’ve been castrated. We feel so threatened by the high degree of intelligence, aggressiveness, and forthrightness of our women. It only shows that we have not been afforded the opportunity under this social, economic, and political system to grow to our full potential as men. Our women have had a little more freedom to grow. There is less oppression on the women in terms of physical oppression than on the men, so our women reflect a strength that we have to catch up to. When I go on college campuses across this country, it is the women who are leading the struggle. When you go into the church, it’s the women who are behind that pastor that’s making things happen. When you go into Black organizations, it’s the women that are causing things to happen. And so it seems to me it is a highly improper thing to deny the strength of women, the leadership capacity and ability of women, if we’re going to form any society that is truly reflective of the good of the people. If it does not reflect the good of women, that society is nothing in my judgment. And I’m saying that I believe the Islamic world needs to reform where that is concerned.

The National Alliance: Minister Don Muhammad once asked us to do a study on U.S. corporate investment in Libya, and it was shown that the United States had quite an investment in Libya and does regular business in Libya. But when you got a $5 million loan from Qaddafi, everyone went crazy and criticized that.

Minister Farrakhan: The government of the United States has a problem with Black folk becoming an international people. They want to keep us local so that they can keep a tight control on our activity. When Paul Robe- son, Sr. found in Russia and in Europe acceptance for his brilliance and greatness, he was labeled a communist. The way he was treated on coming back to the United States was to stop Paul Robeson from infecting the Black community with the thought in mind that there were other societies that were more open and warm and receptive to Black people than the American social, political, and economic system.

So, I noticed that whenever Blacks become international in their view, they become exceedingly dangerous. Malcolm went to the OAU [Organization of African Unity]. Malcolm wanted to put the problem of Black people before the United Nations. Malcolm began to become a world traveler. Malcolm left the realm of a fiery Negro protestor, not in the sense of picket-sign man, but of a man standing on a street corner in the public forums of America. Now he was going into international forums raising critical issues. He had to be dealt with. As long as Martin Luther King dealt with the bus boycotts and freedom rides, he was a good Negro, bless his heart. But the moment he began to internationalize his view and saw that those suffering in the rice paddies in Viet Nam were akin to the poor who were suffering inside the United States-be they whites in Appalachia or Blacks in the South or in the urban ghettos of the North-then, you see, he was said to be communist- inspired, because that was the communist line. You see, when he began to internationalize the struggle, he had to be dealt with.

Now, here comes Louis Farrakhan. Louis Farrakhan is an international man. Louis Farrakhan intends to connect Black people in America with the suffering and oppressed peoples all over the world in a very meaningful way. Qaddafi not only loaned us the money for our POWER program to make the products, Qaddafi buys most of those products from Europeans. If we can produce the products, he will buy the products from us. When the entire Islamic world sees that we produce products that are hilal (free from the enzymes of pork) a very healthful product that we can put on the market, then we can also have the market of the Islamic world. This would make us not only economically strong, but politically strong, in that we will be aiding the economies of other countries as they aid ours. This is dangerous for those that want to keep us under their thumb.

The National Alliance: Why do you think that the African-American Muslim community is starting to relate to you increasingly rather than relating to Warith D. Muhammad?

Minister Farrakhan: I would not comment on why. I would just say that as I went to Mecca, invited by the Secretary General of the World Muslim League, and I was accepted there, I made my Hajj and met with so many Muslims from around the world who, with open arms, received me as their brother in the faith. I think that experience, coupled with some change in the language of the teachings, makes my message much more palatable and acceptable to the Afro-American community of Muslims as well as to foreign Muslims who live within the context of the United States.

The National Alliance: Why have so many Christian ministers been attracted to your message, and what sort of platforms will you develop to further the dialogue with them?

Minister Farrakhan: You see, the question here again is language. The language of Islam presents a natural polemic for the language of Christianity. And as long as we advanced it in the manner that we did, we were always fighting with our Christian sisters and brothers. Some would accept us; the majority would reject us because the religion [Christianity] is endeared to them. However, when we understood the language better and used the language better, understood the principles that Jesus taught and the principles that Muhammad taught and the principles that all the prophets taught, and spoke more to the sameness of these principles rather than to the difference of the labels, the Christian people began to say, “That man is speaking my language. Even though he is not a Christian he talks to me in Christian terms. I dig it.”

Even among the socialists and the communists now, you find a beginning of an identification with Farrakhan-it’s coming gradually-because they see in this preaching something more universal in its application that will permit a white person of good will to become a part of a movement for justice for all peoples of the world. So when they hear that in the language of the speaker, they identify. When they recognize that Farrakhan speaks against the wickedness of government policy that is against the best interest of America, and that Farrakhan speaks against drafting Black youth in particular and all youth in general to fight to keep the multinational corporations and the big banks and privileged whites in privileged positions to oppress and exploit the poor, no matter what their color may be, then the socialists say, “Well, good God, maybe he’s coming this way, too.”

Muslims believe that each human being should have justice, whether in God or not. If you don’t happen to believe in God, that’s irrelevant. In this discussion we are talking about justice. We’re not talking about a divine Supreme Being-we’re talking about something universally needed by all of us. When we get it, we are universally satisfied. So, I’m for justice for you whether you believe in God or not. I’m for justice for the Jew, whether the Jew loves me or not. Justice is what we want!

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