Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Thanks For the History Lesson

This morning the Chicago Tribune printed an opinion piece by Salim Muwakkil, the Senior Editor of In These Times, a local super liberal or socialist weekly. Mr. Muwakkil addressed the issue of Governor Blagojevich’s appointment of Claudette Marie Muhammad to the Illinois Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes, Ms. Muhammad is a minister in the strange, locally based religion, the Nation of Islam (NOI). Flying Debris addressed this issue here, here and here. The founding of the Nation of Islam relied on the fable that white people were invented by a black evil scientist name Yakub; in light of that, Flying Debris concluded that it would not be out of line to describe the NOI as a cult. A further hint towards the flavor of the NOI comes with Mr. Muwakkil’s description of Ms. Muhammad’s stance:

“Obedience to Farrakhan is a requirement in the authoritarian organization. One reason for the Nation of Islam's continuing popularity within the black community is the group's resolute image. Other civil rights groups have come and gone, but Farrakhan has managed to keep the Nation of Islam relevant with public shifts between charm and bile.”

The description of the NOI as a “civil rights organization” is bizarre in itself but Mr. Muwakkil continues his disjointed lecture to white Chicago by giving a short and no doubt rosy history of the Black Panthers (Flying Debris has made a conscious decision to stay out of the local Black Panther dust-up) followed by this:

“Most white Chicagoans don't know this history; a history that included 12 generations of chattel slavery and four more of Jim Crow apartheid. This repressive history has produced an eccentric legacy and odd heroes. Farrakhan is one of those heroes, and Jewish groups gain nothing by avoiding dialogue with him.”

Yes Mr. Muwakkil, we know about slavery, we know about the Jim Crow laws, and yes, we know about the odd heroes. Between Mr. Farrakhan and Jesse Jackson we are well aware of local “odd heroes”. Jewish leaders have been meeting with Mr. Farrakhan and the NOI for over twenty years to what seems like little effect.


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