Jewish Journal


March 2, 2010

Farrakhan’s True Colors


Sunday’s Los Angeles Times reported on a speech given by Nation of Islam (“NOI”) leader, Louis Farrakhan in honor of the NOI’s annual Saviors’ Day. Some 20,000 Chicagoans attended his nearly four hour oration.

Though he is reportedly ill, his virulence, if anything, has increased.

For decades, Farrakhan has blamed Jews and whites for our nation’s and the world’s ills—-that’s nothing new. His racist/anti-Semitic/extremist views have been rationalized and tolerated by far too many for far too long. But now he seems to be willing to reveal more of the nutty theology that underlies his hateful view of the world.

There has always been a raft of crazy notions at the heart of NOI theology that he either kept from broad public view or the media chose to ignore. His theology (that bears no resemblance to mainstream Islam) includes, among other notions, that whites are the creation 6,600 years ago of a mad scientist named Yakoub. The topper though are his assertions about a “space wheel” (the size of two aircraft carriers) from which attacks on America’s whites, and blacks who do not embrace the Nation of Islam, will emanate.

On Sunday, he reported on the vision he had after having been on that “space wheel” to meet with the late Elijah Muhammed. That meeting imbued him with divine knowledge—-including prophesying the recent earthquake in Chile, (“It’s not an accident that a great earthquake took place in Chile…it was a precipitate of what I have to tell you today of what’s coming to America. You will not escape”). The wheel, he noted, had technology “1 million years ahead” of America’s. He also asserted that the spaceship contains 1,500 airplanes, each equipped with three bombs and the “angels on that human-built planet can build a wall out of air ... wall America in and start a fire.”

His immodesty was on display as well; it was “too cheap” to call him just a prophet—- he said. “I’m very humble…..I’m a light in the midst of darkness.”

There have been reports for years that Farrakhan is sick and his activity level diminished. Maybe that explains his willingness to make more of his delusionary musings public. The sorry fact is that no matter how nutty Farrakhan’s rants, he managed to fill up an arena with 20,000 adoring fans and he is still national news (nearly 40,000 Google results).

While he hasn’t often trumpeted his more off-beat theories on religion and “space wheels” when he entertains the media, he has betrayed them often enough so that thinking reporters should have written him off years ago as delusional. Instead of being ignored, he continues to be treated as an off-beat leader who promotes his anti-Semitic and racist views as if he were sane.  Years ago, an editor at the Times told me that the Jewish community had to put up with his anti-Semitism, “because his message of self-empowerment is so important.”

The archetypal example of this strange phenomenon of giving the minister’s theology a pass while according his political views a hearing was an interview of Farrakhan conducted by Ted Koppel on Nightline on the eve of the Million Man March in 1995. Koppel asked Farrakhan about the “space wheel” and appropriately prefaced his query by noting that “it sounds like gibberish.” Farrakhan hardly skipped a beat and proceeded to describe the huge space wheel and the “above top secret” government reports on UFO’s that confirm its existence. He also cited the movie “Independence Day” (Koppel felt compelled to remind Farrakhan that the film was science fiction) as further confirmation of his assertions.

In watching that interview 14 years ago, I distinctly remember wondering why Koppel didn’t say, “Minister Farrakhan, you are delusional.  I have too much respect for my audience to continue this conversation; we have better things to talk about on Nightline.” But that’s not what happened in 1996 or subsequently. Koppel came back from a commercial break and continued his dialogue as if nothing astoundingly bizarre had been said. And if that’s what Ted Koppel did, what can we expect of less competent interviewers?

Farrakhan seems more willing than ever to publicly unburden himself of his nutty and insidious theories—-not just his hate of Jews and whites. The question going forward will be how tolerant of his now irrefutable craziness will the media be?

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