Efforts to impugn the credibility of members of the Congressional Black Caucus and leaders of the Women’s March for being in the same room as Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan, would be laughable if their motives weren’t politically motivated and there wasn’t an historical precedence for their actions.
The Republican Jewish Coalition, the Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center as well as Jewish, conservative and mainstream media publications have joined the assault on those who attended a speech, dinner or meetings with the Minister. The Republican Jewish Coalition demanded that seven Black congressmen resign for having some interaction with the Minister following controversy after a major speech Feb. 25 in Chicago. The group called on Representatives Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Maxine Waters (D-Calif.), Danny Davis (D-Ill.), Andre Carson (D-Ind.); Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.) and Al Green (D-Texas) to resign. Chicago Democrat Davis initially responded by citing his history of opposing bigotry, but did not denounce Minister Farrakhan in interviews with the Daily Caller, a right wing website. Jewish pressure kept building and by the evening of March 8, Rep. Davis had joined Rep. Lee, Rep. Meeks and Rep. Ellison in disavowing the Minister.As former NOI chief of staff Leonard F. Muhammad said, “We believe in the U.S. government’s Counterintelligence Program, where we know things like this historically happened.”
Mr. Muhammad pointed to a resolution introduced by Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) condemning Min. Farrakhan “for spreading ideas that generate animosity and anger towards Jewish Americans.” It harkens back to a Senate repudiation of the Minister over 30 years ago.
In 1984 while appearing on CNN, Sandy Freeman read aloud to Min. Farrakhan a U.S. Senate repudiation of him for alleged remarks during the Jesse Jackson campaign for president. Min. Farrakhan’s remarks, the resolution read, included criticism of members of the Jewish community and accusing the “United States as being a criminal for our aiding and abetting role at the time of the creation of the Israeli nation.”
After Ms. Freeman read the resolution, Min Farrakhan responded, first reciting the U.S. record of atrocities backed by Senate appropriations for the CIA. “I don’t care two cents for the United States Senate’s repudiation. I warn the Senate, and I warn the government, and I warn the president that America is headed down the drain,” said Min. Farrakhan. “You better listen to this little Black slave coming up from among you. My voice is the voice of God in your midst.”
He encouraged the media to “go out on the streets and talk to the little man on the streets and see what they say about the Senate’s repudiation of Louis Farrakhan. It’s not worth the paper that it’s printed on. Black people will not respond like you think they will respond. They love Louis Farrakhan and they will love me more. The more you fight against me, the more they will fight for me.”
TV hosts like CNN’s Jake Tapper, who recently interviewed Senator Bernie Saunders, and especially right wing media were asking “do the Democrats have a Farrakhan problem?” Meaning does the party need to vehemently condemn a man who is deeply loved by many of its constituents? A similar question has been directed at the organizers of the Women’s March. In The Atlantic magazine, the headline read: “The Women’ March Has a Farrakhan Problem.”
Mr. Muhammad said groups like the Jewish Republican Coalition are weighing the “popularity of the Minister. If you look at his (Min. Farrakhan’s) support base, you’ll find that he has a shared demographic, particularly with the Democrats.”
He cited Hillary Clinton’s run for president as an example. He argued that in key states, “whatever was done that disaffected the spirit of Black people, including her repeated past condemnations of Farrakhan during her run against Obama, in this case Clinton paid a price at the polls.”
The RJC and GOP groups want to see if they can negatively impact Black voters enough and women voters enough to protect Mr. Trump and his party in mid-term elections.
Former Temple University professor Dr. Tony Monteiro said that Min. Farrakhan’s support among the Black masses isn’t going away. If anything this heightened attention, though negative, will only increase Min. Farrakhan’s support, predicted Dr. Monteiro.
“Black people vote consistently against right-wing Republicans and right-wing Democrats more than any other group (including Jews) in the country,” he noted.
“Take for example the 2017 Alabama (Senate) race, where Roy Moore the Republican candidate of the Trump administration, the candidate of the national Republican Party, and the candidate of the extreme right, was defeated in Alabama,” Dr. Monteiro continued. Mr. Moore lost “because 97 percent of Black women and 95 percent of Black men voted against him,” he said.
Dr. Monteiro believes labeling Min. Farrakhan an anti-Semite is also labeling the majority of Blacks who support him anti-Semitic. Yet, he said, “not even Jews who claim to be the victims of anti-Semitism vote in those numbers against extreme right-wing forces in this country, who are also by definition anti-Semites.”
So if Black people, because of their support for Min. Farrakhan, are the most anti-Semitic, how do you explain that the group is most likely to vote against far right wing candidates?
The W.E.B. DuBois scholar said the anti-Semitism label “does not hold water.”
Using Min. Farrakhan to discredit members of the CBC and members of the Women’s March will backfire, he said.
“It will give Farrakhan more publicity and heighten his recognition among African Americans, among African American leaders, including elected officials. And certainly the future looks bright for his impact upon the thinking of the African American community,” argued Dr. Monteiro.
Concerning the Republican Jewish Coalition lead role in attacking Min. Farrakhan and pressuring politicians and activists he has interacted with, Mr. Muhammad, asked, “When does a Republican Jewish group take the lead on something concerning Minister Farrakhan?”
“My point is why is it that other Jewish organizations have not enthusiastically joined what they are doing? Is it because they saw it as a weapon posed against Democrats and Democratic interest? So they didn’t join in, at least in the beginning, because it had to do with something designed to hurt Democratic political interests,” he said.
Asked about mid-term 2018 elections, Mr. Muhammad said, “They (the RJC) are not waiting for the mid-term. If they can weaken or defeat an incumbent, it sends chills down the spine of everyone else somehow connected to him or her. So they’re not waiting, they are using this time to further their political aims.” And “clearly,” he said, “this time around the attack is of a political nature, orchestrated by a Republican political group to help the fortunes of the Republicans politically.”
Mr. Muhammad said those who think Muslims aren’t involved in electoral politics should consider this: “You’re involved because we’re being used to affect the outcome. They don’t care if we never go to a poll, if they can use us to serve their political interests. And so when you see that, it tells us the importance of the Farrakhan Factor politically. And whether we want to participate in electoral politics or not, they’ll bring us into it in a major way involuntarily,” he said.