Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan (Courtesy of BET)
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan (Courtesy of BET)

Here we are, once again in late 2018, and the name Louis Farrakhan is being used as a wedge by opponents of the resurrection of Black people to undermine anyone who would dare to attempt to lead that rise.

Here’s how the hustle works. If the minutest of associations with Minister Farrakhan can be found with any prominent Black personality, that person must, sooner rather than later, conspicuously denounce the Muslim leader or their personal career or their organization will be ruined. It’s called the “Farrakhan Litmus Test.”

The enforcers of this anti-Farrakhan-sanction against Black leadership — despite the fact that he convened the Million Man March and other notable accomplishments which justify his inclusion, not exclusion from that leadership table — insist that he is anti-Semitic. They also throw in that he’s a racist, misogynist and homophobe and an “enemy of America” for good measure. I disagree.

So, here’s how to successfully pass the Farrakhan Litmus Test.

You have to think of it like the trick question it is. Remember: “When did you stop beating your wife?” If you’re innocent, or just smart, you’ll say: “I have never beat my wife and never would.”

Similar conundrum. If you condemn the Minister and win the seal of approval from folks who look just like the Black community’s oppressors, you lose the respect of your constituents because you let folks outside of your suffering family, dictate to you the would-be leader, how to go about ending that suffering. Nonsensical.

Instead, here’s what you should say: “While I recognize, and sometimes even wince at some of the harsh statements the Minister has felt compelled to make, I know he’s a good man who has done enormous good for our people.

“Minister Farrakhan does not hate Jewish people. He does not hate White people. He does not teach hatred of Jews. He does not teach hatred of Whites. And the same can be said concerning women, and those who are LGBTQ1A: Farrakhan does not hate, he does not teach hate.”

Trust me, if you say those true words, they will stop badgering you.

I get it. The Minister’s detractors make a compelling case. It’s hard to come back when there’s video of him saying that some people are not true Jews, but rather are worshippers in the “Synagogue of Satan.” It sounds terribly harsh, and it is.

As a result, we’ve known for a long time that comments like that keep the Minister outside of the circle of conventional leadership, but there is another side to this coin. Those of us who believe him to be a champion, worthy of respect, never get a chance to speak after the “Synagogue of Satan” card is played. But I insist that a compelling case can be made, championing Farrakhan’s cause and his abundant good works.

First, the Minister did not make up that expression. In the Bible, written hundreds of years before Farrakhan’s birth, in the Book of Revelations, Jesus, in his letters to the early churches of Smyrna and Philadelphia refers to a synagogue of Satan as a group “who say they are Jews and are not,” which was persecuting the church at that time.

The Bible in Revelation did not condemn all Jews, nor does Minister Farrakhan. I know that sounds corny to Jewish folks who have felt wholesale persecution for hundreds of years in Europe, but it’s true. But in all of his 60-plus years of leadership in the Nation of Islam, there is not one case where one Jewish person has ever been harmed, killed, persecuted, vandalized, or even harassed by anyone following Farrakhan’s leadership.

These outside critics who dictate who Black leaders may or may not associate with, would never permit Black folks to tell them who they can choose to lead their Temples, or tell them that they would be banished unless they denounce the Jewish Talmud, which says that poor Jesus should spend eternity “boiling in excrement,” would they?

But Minister Farrakhan is not measured by an equal standard. He will continue to be used as a wedge, so long as Black leaders let themselves be bullied by outsiders and their communities will be worse off.

It happened with popular Black folks like Paul Robeson and Malcolm X. None of the “respectable” Negro leaders in their time wanted to associate with those militant figures, thus diminishing the potential solidarity of the leadership and the possible unity of the Black masses: the light ones against the dark ones, the school-smart versus the street-smart, division, dissension. And so it is.

I commend D.C. Council member Trayon White; Bishop Charles Ellis III, former Presiding Bishop of the Pentecostal Assemblies of the World and pastor of Detroit’s Grace Temple where Aretha Franklin’s homegoing service was held; and now Linda Sarsour, Bob Bland and Tamika Mallory, leaders of the Women’s March. They have not capitulated to the demands by outsiders to denounce the Minister. Good for them.

In my estimation, those folks have successfully passed the Farrakhan Litmus Test. Remember, Louis Farrakhan is a good man who does good work for Black people — which is worthy of respect and praise, not condemnation.
Class dismissed.

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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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1 Comment

  1. I agree with 98% of your article. I do not agree with using the term “harsh” in representing what Brother Farrakhan has said about those who say they are Jews (Revelation 2:9 and Revelation 3:9). In my humble opinion, Brother Farrakhan has said no more than Jesus and John. If you consider the words of Jesus and John “harsh” well I can see your point, because that means you see Brother Farrakhan being one in that line of divine in the fullest of time. Personally, I do not see Brother Farrakhan as just a National Leader, Black Leader…etc. In my humble opinion, he is the Anointed One from Allah(God) to warn the Planet, to categorize him has anything else would be showing a lack of understanding of Allah’s( God’s) words and Mission for the time in which we are presently experiencing. Thank you for your support of the Minister and all of your works over the years. Peace! 🙂

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