Has Farrakhanism become mainstream in the US?

This form of American antisemitism is more mainstream today.


Religious leader Louis Farrakhan gives the keynote speech at the Nation of Islam Saviours' Day convention in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. February 19, 2017. (photo credit: REUTERS/REBECCA COOK)

Religious leader Louis Farrakhan gives the keynote speech at the Nation of Islam Saviours’ Day convention in Detroit, Michigan, U.S. February 19, 2017.(photo credit: REUTERS/REBECCA COOK)Advertisement

In recent weeks, a deluge of racist anti-Jewish comments have been made in the US. It started with NFL player DeSean Jackson quoting a fake Hitler quote that claimed “the white Jews know that the Negroes are the real Children of Israel and to keep America’s secret, the Jews will blackmail America. They will extort America, their plan for world domination.” The quote was condemned by the Philadelphia Eagles but received some surprising support and excuses from players and social-media commentators.

An ESPN article attempted to explain the origins of this antisemitism. It ascribed it to being uninformed and demonstrating a lack of understanding of antisemitism. This was “naiveté” that comes from the “dark areas of the Internet.” Of interest, the ESPN article claimed that the hate behind this “uninformed” rant was linked to the hate that caused a hate-crime shooting attack on Jews in New Jersey that was linked to Black Hebrew Israelite ideology.Read More Related Articles

That shooting was in December 2019. Then there was the Monsey Hanukkah stabbing on December 28, weeks later.The assertion that the hatred of Jews in the US is primarily due to people being uninformed and not understanding antisemitism is interesting in a country that for recent decades has raised two generations very attuned to the importance of anti-racism and multiculturalism. People have known what antisemitism and hatred of Jews is for hundreds of years.

The idea that someone posting a quote of Hitler bashing Jews simply doesn’t understand it appears to be a way to excuse the rising racism in America that targets Jews.The US approach to different types of racism is interesting, especially in light of the intersectionality agenda that asserts that all racism and oppression is similar. When it comes to anti-Jewish views, this type of hatred doesn’t seem to be taken as seriously. When it comes to anti-black racism, which has been spotlighted by the Black Lives Matter protests, the reaction is unequivocal: Racism is wrong, and racists must be confronted and canceled.This is why movies like Gone with the Wind are banned. Anything that could be construed as excusing racism is removed. Not so when it comes to Jews.

When rapper Ice Cube tweeted an image of a mural widely considered antisemitic last month, there were articles highlighting the tweet, but little else in terms of repercussions. Jews are one group that can be openly derided in the US, increasingly without much pushback. The NFL player was invited for a polite talk with a Holocaust survivor, for instance.Why the relative silence after the NFL antisemitism? Groups that track antisemitism have accused Larry Johnson, another NFL player, of posting anti-Jewish views, and they noted that Nick Cannon, a video TV host, has spread anti-Jewish conspiracies. The views here dovetailed with the ones above. “The Semitic people are black people,” Jewish Insider reported Cannon as saying.

These views apparently go back decades. Hip-hop artist Professor Griff, who was on the recent TV show with Cannon, had once claimed Jews are “wicked” and responsible for “wickedness that goes on across the globe.” That leads to claims that the “Rothschilds” control banks and the Zionists control things, etc. The reaction: This is ranting; surprising to see it in the mainstream.THIS FORM of American antisemitism is more mainstream today. The increasing support for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan, despite attempts consistently to portray his views as fringe, is one part of this. Articles portray Farrakhan as merely a “lightning rod in Black-Jewish relations for his long history of antisemitic comments that many Jews find offensive,” notes Forbes.

The Forbes article makes it seem like Jews are the problem for being offended, which leads to the question: Why didn’t a broader swath of the anti-racism movement mobilize against this Jew hatred? A simple search on Twitter reveals the wider problem. In response to a critique of Farrakhan, these comments don’t blame Armenians or Bahai for slavery; they blame Jews for slavery.

This new agenda seeks to single out Jews as “white Jews” and then blame Jews for slavery while also claiming that Africans are the real Jews and real Semites. It is a very complex worldview unique to an American form of antisemitism that has no direct global parallel.Historic antisemitism blamed Jews for being rootless and undermining European Christian society, whereas this American antisemitism attacks Jews for being white – Rothschilds – who allegedly are responsible for US slavery and white supremacism.

Whereas Nazism hated Jews for being nonwhite (and not of the Aryan Master Race in Nazi ideology), in the US, Jews are increasingly singled out for being white.How and why did this happen? In 1984, The New York Times reported on a Farrakhan speech in which he said: “The Jews don’t like Farrakhan, so they call me Hitler. Well, that’s a good name. Hitler was a very great man. He wasn’t great for me as a black person, but he was a great German.” He praised Hitler for raising up Germany. “Well, in a sense you could say there’s similarity in that we are rising our people up from nothing.”

The rise in this rhetoric from the 1980s to today has been possible because it has never really been confronted. It has instead been excused or portrayed as fringe. The Forward ran an op-ed article in October 2018 explaining “black antisemitism.” The article excoriated “white Jewish people” as part of the “racist system that keeps black people under the foot of this society.” The article asserted that “black antisemites are motivated by anger over gentrification, police brutality and slavery.” The article accused Jews of being part of white supremacy and the “racist system” and insinuated that hatred of Jews was due to Jews being behind police brutality and slavery.

This was in a Jewish newspaper, explaining and excusing hatred of Jews. That is how mainstream it had become.

Similar comments, claiming that “white Jews uphold white supremacy” became a key part of the controversy within the Women’s March in 2018. It turned out that Jews were singled out, labeled “white” and then made to appear to be part of the problem, as opposed to one of many US minorities.At the same time as Jews are increasingly singled out as “white” and accused of being responsible for white-supremacist ideology and slavery in the US – while at the same time being told that they are “fake Jews” – there is a massive rise in violent attacks on Orthodox Jews in places like New York City.

Many of these attacks have attributes similar to the discussion above, with attackers claiming the victims are “fake” or blaming them for things Jews didn’t do.MORE THAN half of hate crimes in New York City are against Jews, at the very time that Jews are said to be “white” and thus part of the white majority. This divide – between rhetoric and reality – underpins the antisemitism that appears underpinned by rhetoric that is common in circles that support Farrakhan or groups self-described as “Black Hebrew Israelites.”The commonality between these apparently disparate strains of antisemitism – blaming “Rothschilds” for controlling media, assertions that Jews controlled slavery, that Jews are white supremacists and that the real Semites are African – is part of a multilayered anti-Jewish rhetoric that has not only become more mainstream and violent, but is not really being confronted.

It is now largely forgotten that a member of the Washington City Council in March 2018 claimed the Rothschilds control the weather.This is a complex anti-Jewish worldview that is built on comments that have been percolating for decades and focuses exclusively on Jews. It’s as arbitrary to blame Jews for US slavery as to blame Scottish people. No one claims American Armenians are “fake” Armenians who are part of “white supremacy.” When one views this systemic anti-Jewish rhetoric through a prism and asks why other groups aren’t similarly singled out, it becomes abundantly clear that this rhetoric is not just uninformed ideas or naïve conspiracies, but is part of a worldview.Where does the accusation that Jews played a large part in slavery come from?

Who benefits from twisting around the actual reality of slavery and making it a “Jewish” crime? The conspiracy theories that underpin this US antisemitism have sought to pin American racism on Jews and blame Jews for slavery.The impunity these antisemites enjoy is largely because the US can’t seem to weigh various racist prejudices at the same time. This is especially so when some of the most racist anti-Jewish voices ostensibly come from the same groups fighting against racism.

From the Women’s March to Black Lives Matter, there was an attempt by some to exclude Jews and then single out Jews for criticism.It is difficult to confront this ant-Jewish hatred because it evolved from within a sector of a minority community and is not widely confronted within that community. So long as Farrakhan or other groups that push conspiracy theories are excused or given impunity to push their views, this growing antisemitism likely won’t be reduced. That it exists in entertainment, sports and often on the sidelines of major activists’ movements shows it is mainstream.

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