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21 Jul, 2020 16:40

Louis Farrakhan is an appalling anti-Semite, and holding him up as a hero shames Black Lives Matter activists

Louis Farrakhan is an appalling anti-Semite, and holding him up as a hero shames Black Lives Matter activists

As the BLM campaign continues, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan’s profile has risen steadily. But those endorsing his militant views seem blind to the hate he is happy to spread.

Louis Farrakhan is enjoying a surge in popularity. He is having a moment, as it were. This despite the fact that the Southern Poverty Law Center designates his movement as a hate group.

The entertainment-world figure Nick Cannon was recently fired by ViacomCBS after anti-Semitic comments he’d made in an episode of his podcast, ‘Cannon’s Class’, recorded last year but broadcast only a couple of weeks ago, surfaced. Cannon agreed with the anti-Semitic conspiracy theories of his guest, spoken-word artist Professor Griff, saying, “You’re speaking facts.”

He also said it was a shame Louis Farrakhan had been silenced on Facebook. Cannon spoke with admiration about the grassroots political leader: “Every time I’ve heard him speak, it’s positive, it’s powerful, it’s uplifting … for whatever reason, he’s been demonized.” For whatever reason?

The reasons are given by the Anti-Defamation League, having monitored a catalog of Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic abuse, homophobia and sexism over three decades. He has described Adolf Hitler as a “great man,” and denigrated Judaism as a “deceptive lie” and a “theological error.” At a speech given in Iran in 2016, he said: “The Synagogue of Satan and its companions are working day and night to destroy any unity among Muslims.”

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The controversy surrounding Cannon comes shortly after Philadelphia Eagles receiver DeSean Jackson shared a quote falsely attributed to Hitler and posted a clip from an Independence Day speech given by Farrakhan. Jackson wrote admiringly of the Malcolm X disciple: “This man [is] powerful.’’ In his Hitler post, he shared an incendiary quote about a Jewish plot to “extort America’’ and achieve “world domination.’’ Isn’t that Spectre’s job in the Bond movies?

Jackson has been called out by members of the black community. Jemele Hill wrote on The Atlantic magazine’s platform about the “cultural blind spot about Jews,” adding, “stereotypical and hurtful tropes about Jews are widely accepted in the African American community.”

Former professional basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar doubled down with an op-ed in The Hollywood Reporter (‘Where is the outrage over Anti-Semitism in Sports and Hollywood?’). He said the reaction to Jackson was insufficient: “What we got was a shrug of meh-rage.”

Anti-Semitic social media posts from sports and entertainment figures are a troubling omen for the future of the Black Lives Matter movement. Fairfax, a Jewish district of Los Angeles, was recently targeted by protesters, and Jewish businesses were looted, and synagogues, schools and memorials daubed with anti-Semitic and anti-Israel slogans.

And beyond the African American community, public figures have given Farrakhan a platform on their social media pages, too. Actress Jessica Chastain, radio presenter and activist Jameela Jamil, and comedian Chelsea Handler all shared a clip of Farrakhan explaining that white people are fearful of black power as they believe the violence historically enacted against black people could be enacted against them, too. ‘Will & Grace’ actor Sean Hayes wrote below Handler’s post, “This should be played on a loop. Everywhere. Always.”

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Handler later apologized, acknowledging that she had not known of Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic and homophobic rhetoric.

Seemingly unaware also, Jamil had gushed, “Someone please tell me the name of this extraordinary man who so perfectly sums up white fear in under a minute.”

Consider this: what would the ramifications be if someone had described President Trump on Twitter as extraordinary?

Farrakhan’s growing visibility comes at a time when the US is facing an avalanche of anti-Semitism. According to the FBI, the majority of religious hate crimes in the country are committed against Jewish people, despite the fact they make up less than two percent of the population.

The seeming acceptance of anti-Semitism in some quarters is a frightening prospect in our science fiction pandemic reality. In Philip Roth’s 2004 alternate-history novel ‘The Plot Against America’, set in 1940, anti-Semitism becomes more accepted in American life during the Lindbergh presidency, and the Jewish protagonists are persecuted on various levels.  

Elsewhere, self-described “freedom fighter” Tamika Mallory, co-founder of the Women’s March, defended her choice to attend an event at which Farrakhan gave a speech.

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Why have some on the left, including former Women’s March co-chairs Bob Bland and Linda Sarsour, declined to condemn Farrakhan’s incendiary statements? Many commentators remain mystified as to why progressives who have committed their lives to equality would keep mum on this seemingly clear-cut issue.

BLM advocate Shaun King, and the executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, Donna Lieberman, have also come out in support for Mallory, claiming she’s staunchly against anti-semitism and indeed all forms of bigotry.

This is adjacent to the truth, surely. She chooses to support an openly anti-Semitic and homophobic leader. In 2017, she posted a happy birthday post on Instagram to the then 84-year-old, calling him the “GOAT” – ‘greatest of all time’.

At the end of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’, Tevye and his family escape the Russian pogroms for America – the New World, the land of the free. But no one is free until everyone is free. As Martin Luther King Jr explained, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality.” So, let’s act like it. If we’re going to be outraged by injustice, let’s be outraged by injustice against anyone.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.