It boggles the mind that Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan actually had the audacity to leave his crime ridden, violence prone Chicago base and come to Detroit to tell us how this city can be saved. His visit last week was, at best, a recruitment campaign.
He’s yet to prescribe a lasting, workable solution for what ails urban America at large orDetroit in particular. Detroiters are far better off gleaning what little is palatable from his message and ignoring the rest of the rant from the messenger.
The controversy surrounding his appearance notwithstanding, Farrakhan was welcomed with open arms at City Hall and in the pulpits of some of the city’s largest churches. He delivered a message tinged with emotion and direction on how the black population should pool its resources to buy distressed properties. The clergy were urged to become catalysts in the effort to “re-own”Detroit.
Of course, some of what he said is worthy of consideration. Encouraging investment in residential and commercial property has always been a great idea. But there are amply reasons to be skeptical of the messenger if not the message.
In the mid-1990s, he called on black men across the country to converge on Washington,D.C. for a “holy day of atonement.” Participants were prodded to accept more responsibility for themselves, their families and their communities. A large contingent of “disciplined, committed and dedicated” disciples responded to make the Million Man March a success. But nearly 20 years later, Farrakhan grew in stature but the problems of the black family have never been worse.
Farrakhan too has listlessly witnessed the failure of schools, churches and other community institutions to end urban terrorism. He has turned a blind eye as welfare rights became a sacred economic life-support entitlement.
Nor has this self-proclaimed cultural leader been successful in addressing the burgeoning number of black males serving time in the criminal justice system. Nothing more underscores the failure of leaders like him to reverse the social and economic isolation black men face.
With Minister Farrakhan, there is always another message lurking just beneath the surface — a message of divisiveness. His unflattering history of offending the sensibilities of people is legendary.
He has repeatedly preached a liturgy of hate, referring to Jews as bloodsuckers. His messiah mentality and misguided moralism stereotypes whites as a “devils” who are oppressors of people of color. He has called for separate states for the races.
During his Detroit visit, for example, Farrakhan blamed former Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s corruption conviction on racism. White politicians are no less corrupt, Farrakhan said, but “they hide their crap under the rug” and unite to protect each other. “But anything (blacks) do, (whites) expose to destroy your love and confidence in one another,” Farrakhan is quoted as saying. “The enemy that charged him is a liar from the beginning.”
It wouldn’t be the first or last time he engaged in his ritualistic pro-black tirade. He once said of blacks: “Our degeneracy is part of a master plan…what you don’t realize is you have been set up, you in your foolishness have played into the hands of your enemy…it is not an accident that jobs are leaving the inner cities.”
The problem with Farrakhan is that, among other things, he’s a self-aggrandizing opportunist who tends to show up in times of despair to exploit the disadvantaged and downtrodden. His purpose is not to unite, but to grow his membership.
For Detroiters to rally to the call of Farrakhan now would legitimize his efforts and give him credibility. He’s deserving of our contempt.