For more than 30 years, charismatic Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan has spewed hatred and vitriol against Jews, white people, and the LGBTQ community. And while he appears to be an equal opportunity hater, there is clearly a special place in his arsenal of blasphemy reserved for the Jewish people. According to Farrakhan, Jews were responsible for promoting the slave trade; conspire to control the government, Hollywood, and the media; represent “a gutter religion” that is “Satanic;” and falsely claim a connection to the Holy Land.
Yet, even now, with there being little question of how offensive his views, Farrakhan still has people saying, “Sure he’s an anti-Semite, but … ” Sort of like the tone deaf observation that “There are good people on both sides.”
Given Farrakhan’s ignoble history of hate, we find it puzzling that there are still people who turn to him for inspiration — either willing to ignore or simply unaware of the truly vicious things he’s said and continues to say in public addresses.
A recent case in point involved Jewish comic Chelsea Handler, who in support of the wholly justified outrage about the murder of George Floyd, posted on Instagram a clip of a Farrakhan TV appearance, in which he railed about the effect of white supremacy on African Americans. Handler claimed, “I learned a lot from watching this powerful video.” And several surprisingly recognizable Hollywood personalities “liked” her post.
Predictably, a backlash followed. But not just from the Jewish “termites” vilified by Farrakhan, or from the Jews he accused of inventing anal sex and promoting pedophilia. Handler removed the post, but not before observing that “perhaps Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic views took form during his own oppression. We know now that oppression of one race leads to an oppression of all races.” While we doubt that Handler was seeking to excuse Farrakhan’s intolerance, bigotry, and hatred, her response leaves us wondering. And it begs the question of why Handler couldn’t have found a better source to support her promotion of racial justice and equality.
Farrakhan has had decades to reconsider his views and to acknowledge that Jews, gays, and white people are deserving of respect. But he has never apologized for his intemperate remarks, and doubles down on the effort when given the chance. That’s why the close association between Farrakhan and former Women’s March leader Tamika Mallory and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) set off alarm bells. If the man himself refuses to change, his allies are likely just as obdurate. Like rapper Ice Cube, who tweeted last week in defense of Farrakhan, “Why is the truth so offensive that you can’t stand to hear it?”
Even as we seek to connect with and support our brothers and sisters in the African American community, Louis Farrakhan is a bridge too far. Anyone who tries to deny that, or who seeks to justify Farrakhan’s bile, is nothing short of an apologist for hatred, bigotry, and indecency.