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Op-Ed in Farrakhan's Nation of Islam Newspaper Lambastes Beck and TheBlaze -- But Are the Odd Claims Accurate?


"...the gang members who are seen as incorrigible gang bangers today may be tomorrow’s political leaders or Noble Peace Prize winners."

In an article published this week on Final Call, the Nation of Islam's (NOI) official news outlet, writer Jackie Muhammad defends the Minister Louis Farrakhan and claims that a Blaze news report from February treats the controversial faith leader unfairly.

Published by writer Jackie Muhammad, the piece, entitled, "A Memo to Glenn Beck..." takes aim at a story we wrote about Farrakhan encouraging African Americans to purchase land and to recruit gang members to protect NOI interests.

A screen shot from Final Call's web site

Muhammad, writing directly to radio and television host Glenn Beck, dismisses TheBlaze coverage and claims that we were unwarranted in "ridiculing" the faith leader. Here's how the writer began his article:

Recently you and your staff writer Billy Hallowell launched both a verbal and a written rant in which you ridiculed the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s call for the Black community to unify in order to address the myriad of ills that are plaguing our community. In his three-hour Saviours’ Day speech the Minister addressed the problems of poor spending habits, lax dietary habits, high unemployment, soaring dropout rates, inordinate consumption of illegal drugs and cigarettes, and our addiction to alcohol.

You erroneously charged the Minister with recruiting gang members “to ask them for assistance in protecting the Nation of Islam’s interests.” Your writer proceeded to quote a reporter, who wrote, “Farrakhan said he planned to contact the city’s (Chicago) gang leaders to recruit gang members to ‘protect’ any land the Nation of Islam might buy in the future.”

At the center of Muhammad's angst was the notion that Farrakhan had made land ownership only a portion of the plan he outlined earlier this year. The writer charged TheBlaze with leaving out Farrakhan's complete words on the matter, as Muhammad noted that the religious leader was calling "for a unity meeting with the leadership of the entire Black community."

Louis Farrakhan speaks to a group of students from Macon County high schools and Tuskegee University at the Tuskegee campus in Tuskegee, Ala. on Friday March 22, 2013. Farrakhan's visit is part of his ongoing series of speeches at historically black universities. He spoke last April at Alabama A&M University in Huntsville. Credit: AP

However, TheBlaze report, published on Feb. 15, 2013, explicitly highlighted the fact that the faith leader's multifaceted speech was three hours long. And we also made it clear that it covered a multitude of subjects. Here are some portions from the original article (it's important to note that some of the information in the previous piece comes from the Associated Press):

As is usually the case, the three-hour address covered a variety of topics ranging from current events to the faith leader’s contentious views on race relations. Of particular note was an economic plan he posited — one in which African Americans would come together to invest in land — and a pledge to reach out to gang leaders to ask them for assistance in protecting the Nation of Islam’s interests. [...]

Farrakhan touched briefly on other topics — Israel, Obama's cabinet and healthier food consumption — but mostly reiterated teachings from the Chicago-based movement on a plan for blacks' economic recovery and said the biggest priority should be the purchase of land.

As for the gang mentions, which seem to be a main area of focus of Muhammad's contention, TheBlaze also noted that Farrakhan made his proposal about these individuals defending NOI interests "while simultaneously condemning them for needless violence." Here, we made it clear in our coverage that Farrakhan voiced opposition to gang members' violent actions.

Minister Louis Farrakhan speaks during the Saviours' Day annual convention at the U.I.C. Pavilion in Chicago, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013. Credit: AP 

Muhammad went on to accuse TheBlaze of sensationalizing what Farrakhan said, but he added a caveat:

But for the sake of argument, what if he did do what you falsely and sensationally accused him of doing? Are you not aware of the crucial role gangs have played in the formation of nations, protecting citizens, coordinating and collaborating with sovereign governments to fight their common enemies, providing jobs to citizens, and in general helping to spur economic development in societies around the word?

For example, the notorious Stern Gang and the Irgun Gang were murderous, extremist, terrorist groups who helped to establish the Zionist Nation of Israel. The Jewish Stern Gang invited the aid of the Axis Powers (Germany, Japan, and Italy, the coalition of forces that opposed the Allied Powers in WWII), and sought to form an alliance with the Nazis. Among the more notorious acts of the Stern gang was the assassination of Lord Moyne, the British minister of state in the Middle East; the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, which killed over 90 people, and the Deir Yassin Massacre, where 260 innocent Palestinian men, women, and children were slaughtered in their peaceful Arab village of Deir Yassin. The leader of the Stern Gang was the well-known terrorist Manachem Begin. Mr. Begin later became the Prime Minister of Israel and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

He continued, providing a history lesson of "gangs" that have, in his view, seemingly progressed societies. After providing these examples, he, again, spoke directly to Beck, lambasting TheBlaze's "ridicule" of Farrakhan, calling the coverage "deceitful and dishonest at worst."

"Gang members have a viable role to play in the empowerment of our community; however, they and other members of our family will be enlisted not to engage in illegal or nefarious or violent behavior, but to 'serve and protect' a community that’s seeking and striving for a better quality of life," Muhammad continued. "Who knows, some of the gang members who are seen as incorrigible gang bangers today may be tomorrow’s political leaders or Noble Peace Prize winners."

Again, we laid Farrakhan's words out clearly in TheBlaze article. In fact, we quoted him, showed video and were more-than-fair, as stated, in highlighting his critique of gang violence. Here are his comments word-for-word from his Saviours’ Day speech earlier this year (speaking, it seems, to gang members):

"We want to make you a defender of the territories that your nickels, dimes and dollars and hours will buy. You are the natural warriors to defend and the science of war must be taught to us so that we will protect whatever God allows us to buy or to build. The Second Amendment has no relevance to the black community in this sense — you don’t have legal weapons. All your weapons are illegal and you’re using them like a savage people would use them."

And here's video footage:

It's unclear why Muhammad chose to write a column for Final Call more than two months after TheBlaze report was published, but it is also equally confounding surrounding what, exactly, we are guilty of in merely sharing Farrakhan's own words.

The confusion intensifies when one considers that the faith leader's comments were also quickly ridiculed by Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel in the wake of the speech. The Chicago Sun-Times covered the politician's disagreement with Farrakhan on gangs, noting that Emanuel called the NOI leader's suggestions problematic.

"No. I don't think gang members are part of public safety. They are the problem. And it's quite clear they're the problem," the mayor told the outlet. "Legitimate, responsible citizens and residents of the city of Chicago are the ones who should be working with our police department, our principals, our schools [to offer] safe passage. I do not see a role at all for gang members."

There was no mention of Emanuel's comments in Muhammad's article.


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