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Farrakhan, Khadafy and Obama

Louis Farrakhan is scheduled to hold a press conference today about U.S. involvement in Libya. Should we care what he has to say? While not endorsing his views, I found his take as expressed on WVON with (an obsequious) Cliff Kelley to at least be thought-provoking. Be not afraid - but be aware.

First, here's the video from his WVON appearance.

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Now, some housekeeping. What is Farrakhan talking about when he references "the wheel?"

From Wikipedia:

Elijah Muhammad taught his followers about a Mother Plane or Wheel, a UFO that was seen and described in the visions of the prophet Ezekiel in the Book of Ezekiel, in the Hebrew Bible.

Now as I looked at the living creatures, I saw a wheel on the earth beside the living creatures, one for each of the four of them. As for the appearance of the wheels and their construction: their appearance was like the gleaming of beryl. And the four had the same likeness, their appearance and construction being as it were a wheel within a wheel. When they went, they went in any of their four directions without turning as they went. And their rims were tall and awesome, and the rims of all four were full of eyes all around. Book of Ezekiel Chapter 1:15-18, Bible, English Standard Version

Louis Farrakhan, commenting on his teacher's description, said the following:

"The Honorable Elijah Muhammad told us of a giant Mother Plane that is made like the universe, spheres within spheres. White people call them unidentified flying objects. Ezekiel, in the Old Testament, saw a wheel that looked like a cloud by day but a pillar of fire by night. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that that wheel was built on the island of Nippon, which is now called Japan, by some of the Original scientists. It took $15 billion in gold at that time to build it. It is made of the toughest steel. America does not yet know the composition of the steel used to make an instrument like it. It is a circular plane, and the Bible says that it never makes turns. Because of its circular nature it can stop and travel in all directions at speeds of thousands of miles per hour. He said there are 1,500 small wheels in this Mother Wheel, which is a half mile by a half mile (800 m by 800 m). This Mother Wheel is like a small human-built planet. Each one of these small planes carry three bombs.

"The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said these planes were used to set up mountains on the earth. The Qur'an says it like this: We have raised mountains on the earth lest it convulse with you. How do you raise a mountain, and what is the purpose of a mountain? Have you ever tried to balance a tire? You use weights to keep the tire balanced. That's how the earth is balanced, with mountain ranges. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that we have a type of bomb that, when it strikes the earth a drill on it is timed to go into the earth and explode at the height that you wish the mountain to be. If you wish to take the mountain up a mile (1.6 km), you time the drill to go a mile (1.6 km) in and then explode. The bombs these planes have are timed to go one mile (1.6 km) down and bring up a mountain one mile (1.6 km) high, but it will destroy everything within a 50-square-mile (130 kmĀ²) radius. The white man writes in his above top secret memos of the UFOs. He sees them around his military installations like they are spying.

"That Mother Wheel is a dreadful-looking thing. White folks are making movies now to make these planes look like fiction, but it is based on something real. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said that Mother Plane is so powerful that with sound reverberating in the atmosphere, just with a sound, she can crumble buildings."

Yes, it sounds crazy, but any crazier than some of the major tenets of, say, Christianity? I could name some (transubstantiation, the trinity) but you get the point.

In his WVON interview, Farrakhan also references Khadafy's "Green Book."

That would be this.

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Farrakhan, of course, is no longer thrilled with Barack Obama. But before America's military involvement in Libya, the right-wing saw the continuation of an untoward triangle between Farrakhan, Obama and Jeremiah Wright. See: Anti-Obama Meme Of The Day: He Pals Around With Qaddafi. (Beachwood style is "Khadafy.")

While that's not so true, it is true that Wright once traveled to Libya as part of a delegation that met with Khadafy, and it wouldn't be surprising if Wright ever spoke favorably of Khadafy to his former congregation, including Obama. So what.

But confusing the issue is the stance such as this one taken by Mary Mitchell in the Sun-Times in 2008 when she explained that blacks understood Obama's wink and nod about Farrakhan:

When Sen. Barack Obama "rejected" and "denounced" the support of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan during the MSNBC debate last week, it wasn't his finest hour.

Fortunately for Obama, most black people understand the game.

No matter how many times Farrakhan explains, defends or refutes anti-Semitic comments that have been attributed to him, his kiss is still the kiss of death.

Hours after Farrakhan praised Obama during his annual Saviours' Day speech last Sunday, the Obama campaign moved to distance the candidate from Farrakhan, telling the Associated Press that it did not solicit Farrakhan's support.

In responding to questions during the debate, Obama took a much stronger approach.

"I have been very clear in my denunciation of Minister Farrakhan's anti-Semitic comments," Obama told Tim Russert, NBC Washington Bureau chief.

"I did not solicit his support. . . . I obviously can't censor him, but it is not support that I sought. And we're not doing anything, I assure you formally or informally, with Minister Farrakhan."

That wasn't good enough for Russert.

He then dragged the Rev. Jeremiah Wright into the debate. Wright , who is retiring after 36 years as the head pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ, accompanied Farrakhan to Libya in 1984 and once said the Nation of Islam leader epitomizes "greatness," Russert pointed out.

Stakes are too high

The point here, of course, is that these men - one the pastor of an 8,000-member congregation where the church roll reads like a Who's Who of the Chicago black elite, and the other the leader of an organization that has historically saved young men from crime and drugs - are unfit to even speak of Obama.

After Sen. Hillary Clinton challenged Obama, saying "denounce" wasn't strong enough, Obama told Russert he would "reject and denounce" Farrakhan's support. The whole exchange made me ill.

Although Obama scored points for defusing a political bomb, his answer was insulting.

Yet the stakes are too high for African Americans to lose faith.

That's why on Thursday, Farrakhan issued the following statement:

"Those who have been supporting Sen. Barack Obama should not allow what was said during the Feb. 26 presidential debate to lessen their support for his campaign. This is simply mischief making intended to hurt Mr. Obama politically."

As one of Farrakhan's closest advisers put it, "At this point in the campaign, a 'pebble' can become a 'boulder.' "

"We are trying to focus on the motive," said Leonard Muhammad, chief of staff for the Nation of Islam.

"We know the motive is to have some negative effect on Obama's campaign, and we know the minister is not all those things that they have accused him of being for the last 20 years."

'It is just unfortunate'

Other longtime supporters of the Nation of Islam are willing to forgive Obama for playing into the hands of his staunchest critics.

"There is a new level of political maturity that one can observe going on in the black movement," said Conrad Worrill, a professor at Northeastern Illinois University Jacob Carruther's Center, and a co-founder of the National Black United Front.

"Right now, people are exercising political discipline as it centers around the goals of the black electoral empowerment movement. In the '60s, '70s or '80s, if this kind of condemnation had taken place by one of our revered leaders, there would have been a verbal bloodbath," he said.

"But the more we engaged in verbal rhetoric, the more our enemies used it against us. It is just unfortunate that at this moment in history we don't have the kind of power as a people to keep us from capitulating to forces that have their own agenda."

At 74 years old, Farrakhan has paid his dues in the battle against racial oppression and hatred. Over the years, a lot of black people have disagreed with Farrakhan on his stance regarding Israel, and many of us have regretted his ongoing controversy with powerful Jewish leaders.

Yet Farrakhan's appeal to masses of African Americans is that he is not a politician. And he is free to speak his mind because his organization does not depend on outside support.

Obama should have found a way to escape Russert's trap without denigrating Farrakhan's legacy.

But, like I said, we understand.

What's interesting is that Obama apparently wasn't winking - and that Hillary Clinton's views have prevailed.

As I wrote during the campaign, I really never had a problem with anything Wright said from the pulpit as exhibited by the videos we all saw. He's said some things since that I haven't been thrilled with, but my problem with the whole episode was Obama's dishonesty about Wright's preaching and his failure to stand by a man who was such an influence on him that he named his presidential campaign book after one of his sermons.

But I do find it interesting how events have played out. After all, in 2008 the Los Angeles Times was reporting this: "Over Dinner In Tent, Kadafi And 'Darling' Condi Rice Put U.S.-Libyan Relations On Normal Footing."

And just two months ago Khadafy's youngest son was in the United States on an internship.

Khadafy apparently never learned from the experience of Saddam Hussein and other world leaders that America doesn't have friends, just interests. And those interests are purely opportunistic.

Farrakhan and Wright apparently never learned the same about Obama.

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But, as Ben Smith reports in Politico, Khadafy was never much on Obama's mind until recently - not that he should've been. Unforeseen events have transpired.

More interesting from Smith, though, is this:

"John McCain also didn't see Qadhafi as a particularly problematic figure either, tweeting in 2009:

@SenJohnMcCain: Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his "ranch" in Libya - interesting meeting with an interesting man. 3:42 PM Aug 15th, 2009 via web

"Last week McCain said Qadhafi should be tried for war crimes."

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Maybe there's a lesson in all of this for an Obama Doctrine that has yet to be articulated and would be different than Obama's (faux) stance during the campaign that he'd meet with any dictator any time at the White House in his first year as president:

Once a brutal dictator, always a brutal dictator. America should always stand with freedom fighters, even when it's politically inconvenient, and regardless of economic interests.

History shows this is not only "ideal," but "pragmatic."

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on March 31, 2011


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