According to media accounts, in his two-hour speech Saturday at his “Justice or Else” rally at National Mall in Washington, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan did not attack the Jews in a big way. He spoke against abortion, praised the Black Lives Matter movement, attacked corruption, child abuse, colonialism, foul language, human trafficking, racial integration and the distortion of Thomas Jefferson’s original text of the Declaration of Independence. But there are no accounts of him directly attacking the Jews or Israel in a big way. He left that part to his fellow-Chicagoan, the veteran of many anti-Semitic speeches, Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
But Farrakhan had to say something, and so he rebuked to the Jews on their failure to forgive … Adolf Hitler.
“Jews have no forgiveness in them,” the elderly Nation of Islam leader, who is still a main suspect—as far as many African Americans are concerned—in the slaying of the late Malcolm X, declared, presenting the evidence thusly: “Find me a Jew who forgives Hitler,” Farrakhan said. “And they say they’re the children of God, and they don’t have no forgiveness in them.”
Farrakhan has waded through the Hitler swamp many times before, most notably during the Rev Jesse Jackson run for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1984—that’s when Farrakhan came up with that immortal quote: “Now I’m not proud of Hitler’s evil toward Jewish people, but that’s a matter of record. He rose Germany up from nothing.” Photographs from the 1945 Berlin ruins notwithstanding, back in ’84 even lefty Village Voice columnist Nat Hentoff called Farrakhan the “Black Hitler.” But in 2015, his setting the standard of forgiveness for Jews at the Hitler level is jarring, especially considering his support for Black Lives Matter which refuse to forgive much less than, say, the state-organized mass execution of an entire ethnic group.
Jeremiah Wright, who almost cost his parishioner Barack Obama the presidency in 2008, with his anti-American and anti-Semitic barbs, used the Nation of Islam podium to advance a modern-day version of the Passion, in which the Jews are persecuting Jesus, and Jesus is Palestinian.
“The original people, the Palestinians — and please remember, Jesus was a Palestinian — the Palestinian people have had the Europeans come and take their country,” Wright said to the crowd in the National Mall. Wright also called Israel an “apartheid state” and said Israelis “illegally occupied territories as they take the people whose countries it is and make it their because their God told them that they could have somebody else’s country.”
Then Wright delivered his conclusion: the Palestinians are suffering Israeli white repression, just like African-American youth: “The youth in Ferguson and the youth in Palestine have united together to remind us that the dots need to be connected,” Wright said, concluding: “Palestinians to have a fight just like the fight we are having here trying to get people to understand that black lives matter, Palestinians are saying that Palestinian lives matter.”
Fact checking Wright’s statements reveals a great deal of distortion of history: there have been few Arab references to a Palestinian people before the 1960s; Jesus lived at least 50 years before the Romans officially changed the name of the province of Judea and southern Syria to Syria Palaestina; and there were roughly as many Jews as Arabs in that area in the late 1880s, when the Zionist immigration began.
It could be argued that he also distorted Christian teaching, effectively sticking an AK 47 in Jesus’ hands and sending him out to mow down settlers.
But many Monday morning commentators have noted that the gravest harm inflicted by Wright on Saturday was his equating of Black Lives Matter with the wave of sporadic stabbing, stone and Molotov Cocktail throwing, and violent rioting of Arab youths in Israel. By marketing the “Palestinian fight” solution to young African Americans distressed by police behavior in their cities, Wright may have acted as an incendiary agent whose harm to Black American society would be worse than even Farrakhan’s.