“…I’m afraid that you [Jewish people] will come to regret the day that I offered you a chance to let us sit down together and dialogue and you, in your emotional reaction, rejected that offer…You will [regret it] because if my influence and growth and power in America does not diminish and it will not, by the help of God, then what benefit would it be to you not to sit down and dialogue with me when the racial problem is not getting any better…”
Louis Farrakhan, Fox News Sunday interview, 3/30/97. Source: Jewish Virtual Library
That is the question — just how influential is Louis Farrakhan, the Antisemitic leader of The Nation of Islam?
We know that he is influential enough that the likes of Tamika Mallory, Carmen Perez (msladyjustice1) and Linda Sarsour have no compunction about associating with Farrakhan and praising him.
Farrakhan is influential enough that he got a front row seat at the funeral of Aretha Franklin, along with Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson — and Bill Clinton.
Farrakhan is influential enough, that while the video of his calling Jews “termites” was banned by Facebook, Twitter continues to allow it:
But if you click on that link to watch the video on YouTube, you see this:
It’s hard to understand how when the media claims to be dedicated to rooting out racism and Antisemitism, and people are being banned on social media for less — Farrakhan roams free and untouched.
An article asking “Who Is Louis Farrakhan and Is He Still Relevant?” presents both sides of the case as to whether Farrakhan is relevant, let alone influential.
Though 20 years ago Farrakhan’s Million Man March brought hundreds of thousands of black men to Washington, DC, putting him in the public spotlight, his events today draw thousands. — and Farrakhan’s 2015 demonstration on the 20th anniversary of the Million Man March was not as large.
The article quotes Jay Tcath, executive vice president of the Jewish United Fund in Chicago, who says that Chicago’s Jewish institutions don’t see Farrakhan’s hate as a major threat:
“He has not grown the movement, he has not graduated to a larger venue, he has no public policy agenda, the number of mosques under his domain are not increasing,” Tcath told JTA. “That’s not to diminish his bigotry, but it’s to recognize that of the many challenges our community faces, including anti-Semitism, his brand is not contagious among many others.”
But on the other hand, the article quotes Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism, who says the fact that Farrakhan can still draw thousands makes him the most popular peddler of hate in the US — more influential than the likes of Richard Spencer and other white supremacists. After all, for all their publicity, the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, in August drew only 500 people.
The influence of Farrakhan and The Nation of Islam is deceptive:
“Its influence is broader than its individual members. Farrakhan has been sort of marked not only as an anti-Semite for many years, but given a pass by some in the mainstream in ways that others don’t get a pass.”
Which puts Farrakhan on the level of Al Sharpton. Journalist Jeff Jacoby notes that despite Sharpton’s incitement of hatred and violence in the case of Tawana Brawley, Crown Heights riots and Freddy’s Fashion Mart — the latter two of which led to deaths:
If Sharpton were a white skinhead, he would be a political leper, spurned everywhere but the fringe. But far from being spurned, he is shown much deference. Democrats embrace him. Politicians court him. And journalists report on his comings and goings while politely sidestepping his career as a hatemongering racial hustler.
The secret to Farrakhan’s success is The Nation of Islam’s positive messaging and work within the African-American community. While Farrakhan incites hatred of Jews, he stresses family values and encourages his followers to avoid drugs.
How successful that “positive messaging” is remains unclear or how successful a leader he really is. The fact remains that Farrakhan has to continually fall back on periodically relying on Jew-hatred to rally and unify his flock.
Meanwhile, hatemongers like Farrakhan and Sharpton will continue to wield influence out of proportion to any actual accomplishments, put on a pedestal by the same media that claims to be the guardians of human rights and values in society.
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