By William PLEASANT and Malik Sekou OSEI
|October 10, 2015: Louis Farrakhan gives a stunning |
performance in the role of PRINCE OF THE NEGROES (Parte Deux).
As I saw and heard the second self-coronation of Minster Louis Farrakhan as PRINCE OF THE NEGROES, I thought I was listening to a remake of an old Jerry Lewis movie, with the same tin jokes. I was to witness the same social and intellectual constipation as the first Million Man March back in 1995.
When formations stop seeking actual power in the “real world,” they seek symbolism and metaphor as their vehicles of expression under the guise of mass mobilization.
After hearing about the Million Man March part two; I thought I was listening to Vernon Reid lead guitar on the “Cult of Personality” playing too fast on a 78 speed vinyl. Once again the Black constituencies have been treated to a replay of empty symbolism. I must begin that this isn’t my first piece of writing that is critical of Mr. Louis Farrakhan and ,actually on a deeper level, this piece is not a polemic against the Nation of Islam (per se), but on a more profound level. I point the finger at inane, self-declared Black revolutionary nationalist activists and their fetishization of stylized, empty militancy that relies on the symbolism of an united front with Black face political reaction. We are addressing here the coon show minstrel troop of the Democratic Party whose sole approach to all political phenomenon within the struggle of the Black population and the Black working class, specifically, is to create a United Front of Blacks for the Democratic Party. This operatively translates into a united front for Black opportunism and Black face capitalist reaction—the junior partners of the Democratic Party.
The Million Man March numero deux was just the theatrical manifestation of this threadbare strategy for Black petit-bourgeois careerism. Once again African American got punked-out by ostentatious and empty symbolism that was never meant to go anywhere. Its only purpose is to quench the thirst of the old hacks for their long gone glory in an imaginary political/historical relevancy. Likewise, it also strives to mine the enraged Black youth population for a new legion of suckers.
Let us rationally dissect what the Honorable Louis Farrakhan uttered on Mr. Charlie’s front lawn on October 10, 2015, his most "militant" statement. He declared, “We must rise up and stalk and kill people who are killing us.” Welcome to the Theatre of the Reckless and Absurd. Black people experience police terrorism across the US and around the clock. Black people are cast into dungeons called prisons on the slightest pretext. What does “rise up” mean? What does “stalk and kill” mean? Certainly the esteemed minister did not advocate organized, armed resistance against the state in Washington, DC, the bowels of the oppressive beast. That would be not only needlessly politically provocative but would be illegal. Farrakhan and his Nation of Islam cult are fanatically law abiding, remember? So we can only surmise that Farrakhan was simply playing, acting the theatrical role of revolutionary leader for the enjoyment of the crowd. He certainly has now nor ever had an operative revolutionary agenda. Or maybe the great leader of the Black masses has had a sort Che’ Guevara epiphany. Things happen, you know? But then I ask, what role would the Nation of Islam play in stalking white, Black, Latino and even Asians people (cops) “who are killing us?” The killers have been around in full effect long before the founding of Farrakhan’s religious cult, and they haven’t stopped “killing us” yet. When has Farrakhan’s NOI prevented a killing or ever killed a killer? Nonetheless, Farrakhan’s righteous, revolutionary histrionics in Washington elicited the expected crowd reaction, a thunder of aaamens and applause.
|Baltimore 2015: Freddie Gray is assassinated by the police, and a riot erupts. |
Was Farrakhan's "stalk and kill" strategy in effect then?
At this point we all know the problems that plague Black poor people in this country. From mass incarceration to unemployment to shabby health care…Black people suffer all of the afflictions that come with grinding poverty and political disorganization. Now Farrakhan is asking people to take on the state, meaning the police and other military personnel, to wage war! But after the whooping, hollering and signifying of the Washington crowd subsided, nobody bothered to ask Farrkahan and the NOI what is their PLAN for armed insurrection. Does it resemble the tactics and strategy for selling weekly newspapers and hawking bean pies? Quite frankly, the Nation of Islam has no material nor theoretical infrastructure to wage any form of confrontation with anybody other than Black people who may “insult the messenger” by raising criticisms or political opposition to the cult. When was the last time the NOI stalked and killed among the great herds of KKK negrophobes and skinheads in the country? As a mere Broker-of-Discontent, Farrakhan knows that he doesn’t need a plan, only a stage and an appropriately hysterical script.
Historically Understanding Louis Farrakhan
The high point of Farrakhan’s theatrical career was October 16, 1995, the Million Man March. Farrakhan’s subsequent media coronation as the Prince of the Negroes began at that point. Prior to that, the NOI was merely a Black bogeyman that the Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL) and other zionist social formations paraded as the epitome of Black anti-semitism. Needless to say, Farrakhan relished his role as the Black ogre and garnered great bushel baskets of free nation-wide publicity. Meanwhile, the ADL brandished Farrakhan as the reason why the organization was still relevant as the Protectors of the Jews, and consequently rode fear and loathing of Farrakhan to the bank in vastly increased donations. But to actually grasped the historical development of the call for the first Million Man March and what put him within center stage of African American protest leadership for a very short time, it must be noted that the 1995 affair was the logical outcome of a very long train of political developments that arose out of an evolution of a post-civil rights, post-segregation social landscape. In short, Black political thinkers and activists, stripped of their traditional political/social objectives of assimilation and de jure civil equality had nothing to fight for short of the overthrow of the bourgeois state. And they were not about to touch that hot potato as long as there were faculty jobs and electoral political prestige to be had from the class status quo.
|Authentic, straight from the MOTHERLAND...Well it should be, right?|
Since the 1970s, African Americans have soothed this strategic political vacuum through “invented traditions” such as Kwanzaa and the pseudo-discipline of Afrocentricity; the first developed by Ron Karenga and the latter fathered by Molefi Kete Asante. These trendy social palliatives helped to make the rise of Farrakhan possible by creating a culture of “Black orthodoxy” or “cultural politics” through the subtle dismantling of critical thought and reflection and their replacement with conspiracy theories and pseudo-scientific notions of Black (African) authenticity. For example, Kwanzaa has NO organic relationship with Africa or African culture or history. Yet Kwanzaa is unquestionably accepted and celebrated by many African Americans as an authentic relic from Africa, the “Motherland.” Likewise, Afrocentrism, which had the potential to become a rigorous intellectual discipline that could have provided answers to Africa’s past, is now a window into a race fantasy in which every Black man is a descendent of a once-noble king or warrior.
In this tyranny of orthodoxy, any negative criticism or action against the so-called militant Afrocentric leadership can and would be viewed through the prism of Black authenticity, i.e., "Real brothas don’t kick against the king (uniformly self-proclaimed) because Mr. Charlie might exploit our disunity." The same thinking was employed by dashiki-clad Democratic Party operatives to herd millions of Blacks behind Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, despite Obama’s overt disinterest in Black suffering. Symbolism took precedent over political substance. “Well, he’s the Black man in charge!” Of what? For whom? No answer need be offered under regimen of Black orthodoxy.
Symbolic political issues like Black reparation or Afro-centric curricula are easier to address than defective public schools, environmental racism and police terror. To understand African American political culture today we see intellectual vulgarization and commercialization elevated to social and cultural norms as tools of ambition at the peril of the de-classed and lower strata of the Black population.
Unlike most of the established Black political class, Farrakhan is not a part of the dominant political structure, meaning subordinate to the white-led Democratic Party. Farrakhan’s day in the sun was made possible by the Black political elite’s increasing irrelevance. His rise as a Black spokesman signaled the demise of the civil rights establishment and the de-authorization of Black leaders--political and intellectual. The fact that Farrakhan called for a march, and arguably a million or so men answered, underscores the political circumstances of African American political leadership. They—the established politicians and academics/intellectuals—failed in the late 1980s and early 90s to move beyond the already-colonized civil rights agenda to direct conflict with reactionary policies of both the Democratic and Republican parties. For example: The GOP’s “Contract with America” went unchallenged by Black intellectuals and activists. Bill Clinton’s rape of the social welfare system didn’t elicit a peep from the erstwhile protectors of the Black poor. The list goes on to include the War on Iraq (1&2), the imposition of a police state via the so-called Patriot ACT and more. The Black intelligentsia and political elite have consistently shown that they owe allegiance to the Democratic Party and strive for vested caucus status in that party as their strategic goal.
Within this context, Farrakhan can be understood as the “Premier showman who actually performed leadership.” (By Claude A Clegg III “You’re Not Ready for Farrakhan.” Black Political Organization in the Post-Civil Rights Era) Farrakhan in the Post-Civil rights era was able to do something that establish Black leadership could not, namely draw out large numbers of Black people for a perverse version of Bread and Roses. The 1995 “Million Man March” was the logical culmination of what he had been doing for years. Possibly, by 1995 Farrakhan was the most influential Black entertainer in the theatrical role of race leader in America.
|Malcolm X denounced NOI leader Elijah Muhammad for |
impregnating several of his teen "secretaries,"and thus engaging in moral hypocrisy.
Farrakhan presented a reprise of his most cherished and lucrative role on October 10, 2015. The delivery of his sophistry was superb. But the content of his address was hackneyed. Maybe the event was a sort of swan song for elderly cult leader, so he felt compelled to engage in his usual historical revisionism, namely:
- The NOI really had nothing to do with the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X. Well, not a whole lot.
- Elijah Muhammad, the Messenger, was not really a pedophile. (As Farrakhan tells the story now, Elijah Muhammad’s offspring from his under-aged servant girls are the children of the prophet, after all, and middle class strivers who now assist Farrakhan in building a new and improved Nation of Islam. Case closed!)
Indeed, the October 2015 anniversary jamboree in Washington was not “A Day Of Atonement.” Likewise, Blacks were not lectured about white social control employing the historically dubious Willie Lynch Letter as the central textbook. The event was just a remake of Black militant conservatism as the Theater of Black opportunism.
“Justice or else!” Farrakhan’s spectators chanted on the Capitol lawn. Justice or else? What is the ELSE? I am waiting for an answer from Farrakhan and the NOI. But I am not holding my breath.
For History is on our side, but not time