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08 March 2012

Did Obama Throw A Beer Summit?

Smart and superarticulate, Minister Farrakhan is perhaps the best living example of a black man ready, willing and able to 'tell it like it is' regarding who is responsible for racism in this country …. every black person important enough to be interviewed is asked to condemn Minister Farrakhan--or any other truly outspoken black leader.

- Derrick Bell on Louis Farrakhan

When, in 1992, the Nation of Islam published The Secret Relationship Between Blacks and Jews—a tract that in the brazenness of its lies and the virulence of its anti-Semitism rivals The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, itself now also distributed by Farrakhan's group—the black scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. lamented that 

“[I]t may well be one of the most influential books published in the black community in the last twelve months.” 

"Hitler was a very great man."

- Louis Farrakhan

Still another “explanation” is proffered here by the black historian Clayborne Carson of Stanford, who lays the blame for black anti-Semitism at the feet of Jewish organizations—which, he says, are “overbearing in their insistence that black leaders publicly repudiate isolated expressions of anti-Semitism over which the leaders had no control.” This strange inversion—making the Jewish reaction to black anti-Semitism its cause—is repeated by the left-wing black intellectual Derek Bell (formerly of Harvard Law School), who complains that “no other group's leaders are called upon to repudiate and condemn individuals in their groups who do or say outrageous things.” But this is truly a damning admission: what other groups' leaders would need such prodding?

“[Derrick Bell has] an egregious toleration of bigotry."

- Harvard Law Professor, Randall Kennedy, who is also African-American

As is common knowledge, those expressions of anti-Semitism that black leaders have been called upon to denounce have come not from “individuals” within the black community but from black leaders and intellectual spokesmen themselves. Certainly, if the head of a Jewish organization made outright anti-black statements, other Jewish leaders would hasten to condemn him. They would do this not only because it would be politic, but because they would be outraged. In contrast, one senses that the real reason Carson and Bell and the black leaders they defend have not denounced Farrakhan, and resent being asked to do so, is that they are not genuinely offended by the hatred so apparent in his remarks.

From Bell, for instance, we get insipid euphemisms:

"Even those who strongly disagree with some of [Farrakhan's] positions must ask whether the negatives justify total condemnation."

- Professor Derrick Bell on Louis Farrakhan

...while from Cornel West have come outright rationalizations (Farrakhan, according to West, has spoken positively of Hitler “because he wanted to talk about somebody who created a people out of nothing”). With statements like these, it is hardly surprising that neither West nor Carson nor Bell can offer us any larger understanding of black anti-Semitism and its roots; to varying degrees they are enmeshed in it.

One man to whom we can look for a frank accounting is Henry Louis Gates, Jr., who has had the courage to denounce black anti-Semitism in an unwavering voice. According to Gates:

"[Anti-Semitism has become] a weapon in the raging battle of who will speak for black America.” 

Within any politically engaged group, he argues, tactical advantage often accrues to the faction that assumes the role of the greatest militancy and obduracy; Farrakhan has demonstrated the validity of this proposition, and his anti-Semitism is part of that posture. By successfully staking out the most radical political turf, he has thrown more moderate black leaders off-guard. Even those who have not been drawn in must worry that they will be split off from the increasingly radicalized mainstream. (As if to illustrate Gates's point, the NAACP and other groups that had remained aloof from the Million Man March rushed to endorse the “black-leadership summit” announced by Farrakhan and his partner, Ben Chavis, immediately after the event.)

“How can you call yourself an intellectual and not find anti-Semitism nauseating?”

- Henry Louis "Skip" Gates, Jr., denounced Bell's anti-semitism

Gates's interpretation of the tactical utility of anti-Semitism is persuasive, but it is only the beginning of an answer. Black anti-Semitism has its source not at the level of political tactics but at a far deeper place in the psyche. Julius Lester, a black writer who has converted to Judaism, has attempted to plumb this region. Blacks, he writes perceptively in this volume, achieve a much greater sense of power when they direct their wrath at Jews rather than at whites generically For white Americans are in some basic sense invulnerable to anti-white prejudice on the part of blacks. “Honky” may be a linguistic or even a moral analogue to “nigger,” but it lacks the same power to insult and to offend, a power that would be vividly on display when the Fuhrman tapes were played before the jury in the O.J. Simpson case. Jews, however, for all their success in America, and unlike Gentile white Americans, feel anything but invulnerable, and harsh words directed at them leave real wounds. Hence the appeal.

"Smart and superarticulate, Minister Farrakhan is perhaps the best living example of a black man ready, willing and able to 'tell it like it is' regarding who is responsible for racism in this country …. every black person important enough to be interviewed is asked to condemn Minister Farrakhan--or any other truly outspoken black leader."

- Derrick Bell on Louis Farrakhan

In a New York Observer interview published on 10 October 1994, Bell denounced Henry Louis (Skip) Gates for writing a New York Times op-ed condemning black anti-Semitism

"I was furious. Even if everything he said was true, it was inexcusable not to mention what might have motivated blacks to feel this way, and to fail to talk about all the Jewish neoconservative racists who are undermining blacks in every way they can."

From the same interview:

"We should really appreciate the Louis Farrakhans and the Khalid Muhammads while we’ve got them.” 

Khalid Muhammad was Farrakhan’s right hand, who made a name for himself referring to Jews as, among many other things, “bloodsuckers” whose “father was the devil.  

"While these guys talk a lot, they don’t do anything. The new crop of leaders are going to be a lot more dangerous and radical, and the next phase will probably be led by charismatic individuals, maybe teenagers, who urge that instead of killing each other, they should go out in gangs and kill a whole lot of white people.”

I wonder if Obama threw a beer summit for his two, old friends in order for their to settle their differences?  Which one do you think he believed was "acting stupidly" -- Derrick Bell or Henry Louis "Skip" Gates?


Related Reading:

Derrick Bell:  The Original OccupyWallStreeter?

Joel Pollak:  6; Soledad O'Brien:  O

Who Was Derrick Bell?  Radical Racialist, and Anti-Semite  

Did Obama Throw A Beer Summit?  

Wikipedia Caught Trying To Change "Critical Race Theory" Page   

Derrick A. Bell: Who's Afraid of Critical Race Theory?

Professor Obama's Radical Syllabus

Touring Derrick Bell’s Afrolantica

Barack Obama: "Scapegoat the Rich!" 




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