|Sections of the article:
The origin of races
The judgment on America
Mayor Barry and the Control Board
Thirty days to go
|When Minister Louis Farrakhan spoke at the Washington Convention Center on August 16, 1997, he talked for over two and a quarter hours on a wide variety of topics. The press didn't print the juiciest bits.|
Government and People
|e rambles. He acts; he mocks, he struts; he
taunts; he jokes. He mixes politics with religion, sociology with homespun theology. He
quotes the Christian Bible more than the Islamic Koran and mentions Jesus more often than
Muhammad, more often even than Elijah Muhammad. But, most of all, he rambles.
The speech at the Washington Convention Center is pure stream of consciousness. It's impossible to distinguish when Louis Farrakhan ends one thought and begins another. Ten minutes into the speech, or at any point in the speech, it's impossible to recall exactly how he got to that point, or what the connections were that led there.
The men behind him stand like Secret Service guards with unchanging bad attitudes, or perhaps with stomach aches; they glare hostilely into the crowd and don't react to anything Farrakhan says. But Farrakhan himself smiles and laughs, get angry, reaches out to the audience. And he connects.
The individual things he says may be rote elements picked nearly at random out of his countless past speeches, but they hit home with the faithful. The audience gets what it has come to hear, the reliable elements they know they will hear from the leader of the Black Muslim religion. Because these elements are reliable old chestnuts, the press has stopped reporting them. They're old news, so they're not news at all. So the audience at the Washington Convention Center on August 16, 1997, which has waited more than an hour after the scheduled time for Farrakhan to appear on stage, and which will listen to him for more than two hours, gets exactly what it wants from a Farrakhan speech. And the wider public, which hears about the speech from a thirty-second television clip or from a brief newspaper account, doesn't learn that in his heart the leader of the Black Muslim religion hasn't really mellowed or moderated or changed at all.
ace is at the core of Black Muslim beliefs. What makes the religion different from other Islamic sects is that it struggles with the central question, "Why are white people inherently evil, and black people inherently good?" The answer is given by Elijah Muhammad, the religion's founder and Louis Farrakhan's mentor, in his book of revelations, "Message to the Black Man in America." The answer is that white people aren't really human. They are, instead, mutants, the product of an evil experiment by the mad black scientist Yakub.
Mr. Yakub created the devils, the serpents, the white-skinned ones. Mr. Yakub was known as "the big head scientist." He learned the future from playing with steel; he had been foretold by the twenty-three scientists of the Black nation of 15,000 years ago; and his work was written in the nations book 8,400 years before Yakubs birth. Yakub was born twenty miles from the holy city of Mecca, and there was no doubt that he was smart. He finished all the colleges and universities in the world by the age of eighteen. But he learned that the germ of the black men was really two people, one black and one brown. Yakub realized that, if he separated the two, he could graft the weaker of the two germs, the brown germ, to its final stage, which was white. And then the weaker would rule the stronger. And he made it his work to create the white race.
Mr. Yakub lived for one hundred fifty years, and his nation of 59,999 followers continued his work for another four hundred fifty years after his death. It took six hundred years for Mr. Yakub and his nation to create the white devils, by forbidding the black race to marry and have children, by killing the black children and breeding ever-whiter children. At the end, they had created a race of beasts, devils, savages with white skins. "They are in the image and likeness of a human being (black man)," the Honorable Elijah Muhammad wrote, "but are altogether a different kind of human being than that of the black human beings."
Minister Louis Farrakhan is evasive when reporters ask him questions about Mr. Yakub, and he doesn't discuss whether white people are human in his public speeches anymore, but he comes awfully close in the Convention Center speech.
"This is why the Honorable Elijah Muhammad asked the question, 'Who is the original man?' And the answer is, the original man is the Asiatic black man, the maker, the owner, the cream of the planet earth, the god of the universe. Some of my Muslim brother say this is wrong, this is wrong. No, this is absolutely right. Look, look, if Allah created the first man from black mud, and fashioned that man into shape, and gave that man power, then he couldn't fashion the man from black mud, and he be a white man.
"And don't tell me I misunderstand the Koran. Islam is not Arab religion. Islam is the nature of God, and the nature in which he created every human being, Islam is the natural religion of all human beings. It is your birthright." The audience has gotten excited, and Farrakhan has pounded the podium. But then he becomes soft-spoken and quiet.
"Beloved brothers, sisters, look. the geneticists, the biologists, the anthropologists all agree with the Koran that the father of all human beings was a black man. The mother of all human beings was a black female. Now, this is not talking about black supremacy. I'm just making a statement of fact." Farrakhan speaks about how, as immature students of Elijah Muhammad, he and others boasted about the supremacy of black men, but now they have matured. He does not say that they have matured out of a belief in Yakub, or out of a belief in the superiority of black people so it is unclear exactly what belief they have matured into.
merica, in Farrakhan's history, or theology, is in a direct line of succession from Sodom and Gomorrah, Egypt in the time of Moses, and Babylon. America is under a sentence of death from God.
"What I came here to say to Washington, DC, to the government of the United States, to the President of the United States, is that America has been weighed in the balance, and she has been found wanting, and the sentence of death has been sent down by God for the United States of America." The audience starts applauding, but Farrakhan cuts them off. "No, no, don't applaud, don't applaud. I just want you to think with me now. There is no nation on earth that is more wicked than this one." Then, he takes a surprising turn, and makes a surprising admission.
"She's the greatest nation on earth. There has never been a nation her equal. And I say this with deep humility, that I couldn't speak like this in any other nation and be alive. I can speak like this in America because, really, of the greatness of this nation. I got to pay a price for it, but because of freedom of speech, America might be able to avert her own destruction, but she's on death row as we speak." Then Farrakhan gets back on message.
"Now listen, Washington, this nation would make Sodom and Gomorrah look like kindergarten. This nation would make what Pharaoh did look like child's play. This nation makes the wickedness of Babylon sink almost into nothingness, and the violence of the days of Noah don't even compare with the violence that goes on daily in American society. And what you don't understand is that the plagues that God has visited on Egypt, he's visiting them on America, to the point now that America has really let you go."
Farrakhan attempts a grand political, social, and medical explanation of the state of Black Americans. "And the worst part about letting you go is, they've decided, I can't just let them go, because they're multiplying. They're going to be powerful, and the demographers are saying, by the middle of the next century, there'll be more black people in American than white people, and these Negroes will vote themselves into the White House, into Congress, into the Supreme Court. So we don't want to turn this country over to Negroes. So the decree of death has been handed down on you. Just look at yourself. You're dying, and you don't know why. High blood pressure, stress, stroke, heart failure, liver disease, cirrhosis, kidney, all kinds of cancers, striking you. Death is at your doorstep."
ayor Marion Barry gets only qualified support from Farrakhan support more because of his enemies than because of any qualities he himself may possess. "You're in trouble, Washington. You, the capital of the world. Here, you had a mayor, Mayor Barry. The Mayor may have his problems, but the Mayor fought for the little people. See, you don't know what kind of forces are arrayed against any of these elected officials. You're dissatisfied with all of them. Some of them have betrayed us, but others of them are victimized by forces that are unseen.
"Mayor Barry fought for the little people; he gave contracts to black people. He has his faults, but the way they handled the Mayor even in his weakness they did to that man what they never did to anybody in the history of politics in America. I saw what they did to the Mayor, and a certain pastor came to me, and said, 'Brother Farrakhan, how can you support Mayor Barry, when he has committed every sin that we preach against?'
"I said, 'It's the sick that need a doctor.' And I said, 'Are his sins worse than the sins of the US government?'" The audience cries, "No!" Farrakhan continues, "I saw a bigger picture than the personality of Mayor Barry, his strengths or his weaknesses. What they were doing when they publicized the Mayor's indiscretions was to destroy in black people in America any desire to vote for black people to lead us." And the audience breaks into applause.
"They know the value of politics, and they know that you are coming into political power, but they wanted to destroy your faith, your confidence, in your own black political officials, so they corrupt them. Say it in the Lord's Prayer, 'And lead us not into temptation,' but here is your own government, will hire criminals that are convicted felons, put a wire on them, give them an aura of respectability and money, and then send them to your city councilmen, send them to your aldermen, send them to your political leaders to offer them little bribes. And sometimes out of weakness, that negative side of the mind comes up and says, 'Why not take it? You ain't gettin' enough money, no way.'"
Farrakhan expresses his belief in Barry's "redemption." "Beloved family, when that man ran for the City Council and won, they were angry. They said, 'I thought we destroyed that nigger.'" The audience explodes in joyful applause. Farrakhan makes clear the basis of his support for Barry: "They want me to crucify my brother. I can't crucify my brother. He's a sinner, and so am I, and so are we. We all need God's mercy."
And he describes opposition to Barry as the root, the sole reason, for the city's political problem: "We can't let him have control of our city, our fair city," he portrays a white southerner as saying, "So, them niggras must not think that this is not a plantation and we are not the bosses. So, since them niggras are still on the plantation, we'll find us an overseer for our niggras. Let's get us a Control Board." Then he drives the political point home: "Every member on the Control Board should have resigned, or never accepted the offer, because the citizens of Washington voted, and they have no right to take away the power of the peoples' vote for who they voted for. So now the Control Board are overseers, either willingly or unwillingly, of the plantation. And what happens, you don't see who's overseeing the overseers. So little by little, they strip the city, strip the Mayor, castrate him in front of his people. 'This is what we think of your vote. Just remember, niggras, we're still the owner of this plantation.'"
The particular white devil whom Farrakhan picks to parody is Senator Lauch Faircloth. "Faircloth, what kind of name is that? Unfaircloth." He lampoons Faircloth because he is a farmer. "A hog farmer, at that."
He urges the people of Washington to rebel. "And the worst thing about it, you all are like sheep, being led to the slaughter, and we don't hear you opening your mouth. What the hell is wrong with you? Look here, this City Councilman, Mr. Thomas [Harry Thomas, who is attending the rally], he's talking, but look, we got to give these leaders some backbone, or give them some footbone. Well, it's either one or the other, damn it. It's either backbone or footbone. Backbone, you stand up; footbone, we kick you out. You have power. This don't have to go on. We can make Faircloth's life miserable. We oughta start at home with the Control Board. They live among us. You betrayed the city; you betrayed the people. I know what you're going to say, 'Oh, no, the city wasn't doing things right. We only did what we were told' that's the problem.
"Suppose, suppose we ostracize them. Suppose we tell their preachers don't let them in the church. Until you repent, you don't come back in here. All the social clubs reject them. When you see them in the street, turn your back on them. Visit them and tell them, 'Resign. Get out of there.' I don't want you to do no harm to them. That's harm. If you feel that they're guilty of taking from you your rights, and they're overseers, they're just middlemen for the master. We got to deal with them, but we got to deal with the master. So I think Rev. Willie Wilson said he's going to take some buses to Senator Unfaircloth's home, is that right, Rev. Willie? Well look, citizens, you can't sit on the sideline. You got to get actively involved for yourself and for your city. So you got to join Rev. Willie Wilson, and let Mr. Unfaircloth know that black folk voted in North Carolina. Stir up his home. Make it uncomfortable for him at home."
"Whatever you do, if you do it together, even if it don't seem wise. . . ," Farrakhan says about Jesse Jackson's Hands Around the Capitol movement, which he is endorsing. The audience laughs, which leads Farrakhan to the story of Joshua and the walls of Jericho. His moral is that his followers should join every demonstration against the Control Board and against Congress. "But then, comes October 16, the second anniversary of the Million Man March. Now, remember what I said about the decree of death that is on America. . . ."
he decree of death on America is not a long-term sentence. It's coming soon. And the second anniversary of the Million Man March or, as Farrakhan claims, "nearly two, two million, showed up" the Day of Atonement, is somehow connected to the decree of death. After a long digression promoting the March, he returns to the pending punishment, and promises an unspecified sign of that punishment within thirty days.
"I want to say to the President of the United States and to Congress, any effort that this effort does against you will increase God's punishment on America. From this rostrum, in this city, I'm saying to God, Allah, 'Oh Allah, show them your power. Increase your wrath on this nation, so that they may know that your servant is true. That they may know that you have come to fight for these, your people. That you have chosen, not because of their blackness, but because, as Martin Luther King said, undeserved suffering is redemptive, and I don't know nothing that we have done to deserve the hell that we have suffered, except that we have suffered so that you may make your power known through the foolish things of this world.
"So I am asking Allah to show the government of America, the President, your displeasure with them. Increase the rain. Increase the hail. Increase the message that death has come into America, and we are not to be overcome. Show them, that they may know that whatever they plan against this weak people, you will hold them accountable. And I guarantee you in less than thirty days, God will send you a sign, that either you bow down, or he takes us from the face of the earth. If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, he said, then will I hear from them. Not before, then. And I will forgive your sins, and I will heal your land.
"We need a healing, and America needs a healing. I want the decree of death to be lifted off of us, and the only way it will happen is if we bow down."
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|Gary Imhoff is a Washington writer, and the vice-president and webmaster of DCWatch.|
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