Op-EdColumnistsAskia MuhammadOpinion

MUHAMMAD: White ‘Masters’ Choose Black Leaders

Imagine, if you can, if this writer had demanded that the National Rifle Association choose Sarah Brady — the late widow of Ronald Reagan’s press secretary James Brady, who was shot in a 1981 assassination attempt on the president — as the head of their organization.

Imagine if I demanded that the White Citizens Council choose retired Georgia peanut farmer and former President Jimmy Carter — now a dedicated volunteer supporter of Habitat for Humanity, which builds homes for the poor — as their leader.

Imagine if I demanded that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) choose Norman Finkelstein, the son of Holocaust survivors and former university professor who exposed Israel’s “ruthless treatment of the Palestinians” as akin to apartheid, as its head and then disavow those who condemn him as a “self-hating-Jew.”

Imagine.

You can’t do it. Those thoughts simply won’t enter your mind. The idea that a black man — a “Black Muslim,” at that — would tell self-respecting White people with whom they can and cannot associate is ludicrous. So why then has the ADL taken to demanding that members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) forswear any association with Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan?

I’ll tell you why. By bullying the most powerful and most visible symbol of black leadership and political power, they send a message to all other Black folks to only fraternize with Black leaders of whom white people approve. Sadly, it’s been that way for decades.

Remember, during the Carter presidency when Andrew Young, then ambassador to the United Nations, attended a U.N. reception with hundreds of other diplomats, which was also attended by Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat? Andy’s tenure wasn’t worth a dime after that. Soon after, he was former U.N. Ambassador.

Today, ever since a 2005 photograph — taken by this writer — of then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama smiling while standing beside Farrakhan at a CBC meeting was released in my book “The Autobiography of Charles 67X,” there’s been bedlam at ADL. They’ve called on the former president — who not only repudiated, but rejected any support from Farrakhan in his 2008 presidential campaign — to denounce the Muslim leader again.

Furthermore, they’ve gone after Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the first Muslim elected to Congress, as well as fellow Muslim Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.) and Rep. Gregory Meek (D-N.Y.) for attending a New York dinner hosted by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani with 100 Islamic leaders and activists present, including Farrakhan, when Rouhani addressed the United Nations in 2013.

And so, since these Black folks have associated with leaders the ADL doesn’t like, they must be taught a lesson.

For his part, Farrakhan has cavorted with all sorts of world leaders: Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro, Muammar Qaddafi, former Syrian President Hafez al-Assad. In January 1984, after helping secure the release of captured U.S. Navy pilot Robert Goodman, Farrakhan was pictured with President Reagan and Vice President (and soon to be President) George H.W. Bush at the White House.

At the funeral of civil rights icon Rosa Parks, then only the third civilian to lie in repose at the U.S. Capitol Rotunda, Farrakhan was a speaker, and he rubbed shoulders with congress members and other dignitaries.

At the celebration of Time magazine’s 75th anniversary, Farrakhan recalls that the recently deceased Rev. Billy Graham — now only the fourth civilian to lie in repose at the Capitol — walked away from Muhammad Ali and came over and spoke with him.

So why exactly is Ellison on the hot seat, but neither Bush 41, Reagan, Graham nor former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell — who praised the Muslim and his Nation of Islam organization — were called to account for associating with Farrakhan? Why only the Black leaders?

Admittedly, Farrakhan says some things that are even hard to listen about some Jewish leaders who stray from their religion’s principles and engage in wicked behavior. But in a conversation with President Richard Nixon, Graham and Nixon said some damning things about Jews as well. Why isn’t there a rogue’s gallery for their associates?

More importantly, why does anyone who calls themselves a Black leader even listen to, and then kowtow to, such duplicitous demands? It’s truly mind-boggling.

Finally, there is no equivalency between former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke and Louis Farrakhan. Farrakhan is a good man, who leads his followers along a path toward self-improvement, not into a life of hate, intimidation and violence, as do the Trump-inspired race-haters, now called the “alt-right.”

Leave Farrakhan’s friends alone!

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Askia Muhammad

WPFW News Director Askia Muhammad is also a poet, and a photojournalist. He is Senior Editor for The Final Call newspaper and he writes a weekly column in The Washington Informer.

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