Tuesday, January 29, 2019

By Daled Amos

It's common to think that Farrakhan's poisonous antisemitic rhetoric carries no consequences with it.
There are no condemnations from African American leaders.
o  Politicians show no reluctance to appear with him
o  Community leaders in general do not condemn his Anti-Jewish attacks
o  Farrakhan is a popular leader among African Americans
That is why the backlash against Women's March is so surprising.

Apart from the antisemitism of the Women's March leadership itself, as documented by Tablet Magazine and The New York Times, their ties to Louis Farrakhan and their refusal to condemn his ongoing antisemitic attacks have been a stain on that movement.

But historically, the Women's March is not alone in bearing the consequences of the albatross that is Louis Farrakhan.



Edwin Black, the author of "IBM and the Holocaust: The Strategic Alliance between Nazi Germany and America's Most Powerful Corporation," wrote a background article in 1986 about Louis Farrakhan.

Black reveals Farrakhan's plan in the 1980's for a project known as POWER, People Organized and Working for Economic Rebirth, which included a plan for selling toiletries and personal products to African Americans:
Black toiletry manufacturers would be subcontracted for production. POWER consumers would commit to a minimum monthly purchase of $20, ordering via an 800 telephone number. Merchandise would be delivered from POWER directly to the consumer's door. Distributors and retailers would be eliminated, doubling POWER's sales income. By this brilliant strategy—combining the best capitalistic experience of Avon, Proctor & Gamble, Fuller Brush, and the Book-of-the-Month Club—the Nation of Islam would make money every time a black customer gargled or went to the bathroom.
POWER had the potential to be the biggest African American enterprise in the country, capable of sales of over $150 million within its first 5 years and $1 billion within its first 10 years.

The Nation of Islam sought support in Chicago of Johnson Products, which manufactured cosmetics and household products. Farrakhan suggested raising the necessary capital to start production by selling tapes of his speeches at $10 each at various rallies he would hold around the country, with the expectations of drawing 6,000-10,000 people at each rally, in order to raise the necessary millions.

So in 1985, Farrakhan launched a well-publicized speaking tour, starting in Detroit on January 19. But between cold weather and technical difficulties, sales were less than expected.

That is when Farrakhan turned elsewhere for the help raising the money: Muammar Khaddafi.

This is the same Khaddafi who, in 1975, gave NOI leader Elijah Muhammad a $3 million interest-free loan to build a national mosque. Now, on February 24, 1985, Khaddafi had a special address beamed by satellite to a Chicago meeting hall as the climax to the Nation of Islam's annual "Savior's Day" convention. The Libyan leader, who financed terrorist groups around the world, did what came naturally. On a large TV screen, Khaddafi
called upon American black servicemen to desert from the military and engage in wide-spread sabotage and rebellion with weapons he would provide.
A few days later, Farrakhan held a Washington press conference, where he formally renounced the offer of weapons. As Farrakhan put it, the offer "was appreciated but unacceptable unless [Khaddafi] wanted to offer monetary weapons to get the proposed program off the ground."

In the end, Farrakhan got a $5 million interest-free loan from Khaddafi. Khaddafi, of course, was not Farrakhan's only favorite Arab despot. During a 1985 tour of the Middle East:
o He visited Syria, where he had visited earlier with Jesse Jackson to win the release of downed pilot Robert Goodman
o In the UAE, Farrakhan met with Dr. Ibrahim Ezzadine, an adviser to the leading Emirate sheikhs
o He visited Saudi Arabia, where he located and spoke with Idi Amin, who he claimed was a great man
o In Sudan, he met with Omar al-Bashir who had recently come to power as a result of a coup and would later be accused of war crimes
So his attacks on Jews helped Farrakhan cement his friendship with Arab despots, as well as energize his base.

In fact, when he returned home, Farrakhan's attacks increased, targeting the US, Christians and Jews which had the effect of increasing the size of his audiences among Black Americans even further.

And that is when the problems started:
It was one thing to enter a pro-black business venture. It was quite another to participate in an enterprise conceived and advertised as anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-white, and anti-Semitic.
Eventually, word got out about Khaddafi's involvement in the POWER project and that Johnson Products was involved, tying the company with an Arab despot who was an enemy of the US.

And Farrakhan just kept digging:
Farrakhan began publicly mentioning Johnson as a courageous black manufacturer willing to stand up to white society and the Jews. The Minister even asked blacks to increase their purchases of Ultra Sheen as a gesture of thanks. Johnson's Jewish business associates were shocked at his involvement, and soon the heat was on.
Farrakhan's antisemitic statements combined with pressure from Jews who helped Johnson start his business and invested in it forced him to call Farrakhan and tell him that his company could not be associated with Farrakhan in any way. Farrakhan took the news badly and insisted Johnson was backing out because Jews wanted POWER to fail because it would do something to help black people.

At a rally at Madison Square Garden a little later, Farrakhan publicly lashed out at Jews, whom he accused of being "bloodsuckers of the poor." Soon after, George Johnson issued a formal written statement disassociating himself from Farrakhan and POWER. He gave Farrakhan's antisemitism as the main reason.

The problem didn't stop there.

Farrakhan's connection with Khaddafi became a headache for the small black-owned Independence Bank in Chicago, where Farrakhan deposited the $5 million he received from him. Black notes in his article that Khaddafi's $5 million, provided $50,000 in annual profit, about 5% of the bank's total. At the time of the article, the bank had canceled the lock-box service for contributions to POWER and from tape purchases. A bank source indicated that in any case, very few checks had come in since the bank had terminated the service -- and it was considering further measures.

Black points out that Farrakhan mixed his personal politics with the product line that formed the basis of POWER, undermining the project.

Farrakhan's friends in the Women's March leadership seem to be doing the same. Phyllis Chesler, a feminist leader starting in the 1960's, writes "The Women’s March is a Con Job":
Most concerning, though, is that the Women’s March leadership appears to have no particular interest in the independent women’s liberation movements. I have read their literature extensively and all I can find are issues, which, however worthy they may be, are not, strictly speaking, feminist issues. The Women’s March addresses things like “immigration reform” and “police violence against black men.” They say they are “anti-racists,” more than they are “anti-sexists.” And they prioritize “queer and transgender” politics, but never plain old garden variety women’s issues.

Women’s issues — even those that are impacted by race, class, religion, and ethnicity — are still woman-specific: sexual harassment on the job; rape; incest; domestic violence; economic, social, and legal discrimination; and of course reproductive rights, including access to birth control, abortion, and prenatal care.

...Sex trafficking? Child marriage? FGM? Forced face veiling? Honor Killing? None of these issues are being addressed by the American Women’s March leadership.

What is going on?
Back in 1985, Farrakhan made his product line for POWER secondary to his politics and the rhetoric of hate that he is dependent on to energize his base. The leadership of Women's March, with its admitted admiration for Farrakhan, has sublimated women's issues to their own politics.

Both are strident in their anti-Jewish and anti-Israel rhetoric.

In the end, a project that had the potential to benefit the black community fell apart.
Whether the same fate will befall The Women's March remains to be seen.




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