Last week several celebrities shared and effusively praised a short clip of Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam since 1977, which was drawn from his appearance on the Phil Donahue Show of March 13, 1990. Chelsea Handler, who is Jewish, gushed that she “learned a lot from watching this powerful video,” while Jameela Jamil pleaded “Someone please tell me the name of this extraordinary man.” Yet the segment that elicited their tributes consisted only of 9 minutes of an hour-and-a-half show. Presumably, they would have recognized the limitations of an assessment of only a small fragment of their own performance.
In the portion of the show that prompted such acclaim, Farrakhan addressed America’s legacy of racism, pointed out that black slaves were robbed of their heritage, and called on whites to study black history. Had his admirers widened their lens to the entire show, they would have better understood what he meant. They would have heard Farrakhan stressing that the past that everyone must be taught is that blacks “are the father of all human beings. Tell it from the mountain! The black people are the Original People of the earth! … We are your fathers, we are your mothers – and you should honor your father and mother…. This truth, … you’ve hidden it from black people and … from your own people. So if you know that you came from us, so maybe you would respect your root a little better.” To Farrakhan, this is the history that will heal the country’s racial divide.
Moreover, Farrakhan instructs the audience, it follows from this that only black people – descendants of the Original People – have a homeland, to which they can return. All others, “wherever you are on the earth, you are not a native anywhere. You came from there and took it from the native people.”
And Farrakhan wants all to learn that: “Certainly, … we can’t deny that to everyone who has come here, America has given equal opportunity, but to the blacks.” That is, in his historical narrative, there was no Chinese Exclusion Act; no laws forbidding Japanese-Americans from owning land, no ordinances confining them to segregated schools; the ubiquitous warnings that Irish Need Not Apply never existed; the quota system severely restricting Jews’ access to universities, and covenants barring the sale of houses to Jews – all gone, airbrushed from the past.
Surely the celebrities who applauded (“liked”) the shared clip, and who also support the demands of Black Lives Matter, must have been unaware of the vast gulf between Farrakhan’s message and solutions and those of the movement they strongly endorse. In the show, Donahue plays a clip of Farrakhan speaking in New Orleans the year before, where he bemoaned, in passing, “We give you our tax dollars to support a police department that doesn’t respect us.”
Now addressing Donahue’s audience, he observed that “We have 609,000 black prisoners behind bars with no hope at all.” But Farrakhan does not blame racist police for the situation, and would not consider defunding them as a solution. He acknowledges that the prisoners’ behavior rightly resulted in their incarceration, and calls only for their “reform” by sending them back to their original homeland. After all, he explains, “We didn’t give up our right to Africa, so … let them go to build a new reality for themselves.”
For Farrakhan, the problem is not the police, the enforcer of white supremacy. The enemy is the Jew – not the Blue. To be sure, Farrakhan dwells on the blacks’ behavior that landed them behind bars. Five years before, in 1985, for example, he excoriated a massive audience of African Americans: “Liars and thieves, you! Murderers and gamblers and … freaks…. This is you, my own flesh and blood…. Coke-usin’, reefer-smokin’, pill-poppin’, heroin-shootin’ self.… Snuff cocaine until the linin’ of your nose is burn out, your brain is busted…. Committers of suicide, fratricide, genocide. Nation of devils!”
And then he reveals the cause of their behavior: “You have been made devils…. Because you under the rule and order of maker – made by Jews into devils. That’s why they don’t want me to talk.”
Not surprisingly, then, Farrakhan ominously confides to Donahue that AIDS “is a made virus,” and “We’re looking at chemical warfare that is being used in crack cocaine.” He adds, “This should not come as a shock to you because viruses have been used for years to get rid of unwanted … [minority] populations.” Although Donahue did not ask him to elaborate, in an interview with the Washington Post two weeks before, Farrakhan divulged that it was “right after” his Madison Square Garden address to a crowd of 20,000 – he counted 35,000 – in October 1985, that “the crack epidemic exploded.” Notably, several commentators at the time labeled the event a modern Nuremberg Rally. One described how “the audience greeted each anti-Semitic thrust by rising to its feet, cheering, arms outstretched at 45-degree angles, fist clenched.” There Farrakhan warned, “I am your last chance, Jews,” it will be too late “when God puts you in the oven.” It was then, he suggests, that the crafty Satanic Jews unleashed crack cocaine, their weapon of mass destruction, on the blacks of the ghetto.
Celebrities should examine how they came to provide a platform to this antisemitic demagogue – and should express contrition for sharing it with their millions of followers.
Dr. Eunice G. Pollack is co-author together with Dr. Stephen H. Norwood of the article “White Devils, Satanic Jews: the Nation of Islam from Fard to Farrakhan,” which appeared in the May 2020 issue of Modern Judaism.