Michael Jackson and the Nation of Islam
By Roland S. Martin, Editor, BlackAmericaToday.com
The news that Michael Jackson joined the Nation of Islam (NOI) sent the radio and television talk show hosts into a tizzy. They screamed from their ivory towers, "How in the world could the King of Pop get himself mixed up with Louis Farrakhan?"
This Jackson-NIO link was first started by The New York Post erroneously reporting Dec. 19 that Jackson had joined the black Muslim sect. Anyone who has covered the Nation saw this through this story as a blatant falsehood. If Jackson had joined Farrakhan's organization, it is likely a message would
We never saw any mention of this story, and Jackson reps quickly issued a statement saying the story was false.
Us Weekly got in on the act by reporting the growing influence of the Nation of Islam in the Jackson camp. Their story was the precursor to
a Dec. 30 report in the New York Times, which weighed in with a story headlined, "Dispute in Michael Jackson Camp Over Role of the Nation
of Islam." The story was full of quotes from Jackson "confidants" who asserted the group has taken over Jackson's ranch, finances and are even dictating legal strategy. Who is behind all of this? They said Leonard Muhammad, chief of staff and the son-in-law to Farrakhan. The confidants even say the NOI is "brainwashing" Jackson.
The Times did report that the NOI issued a statement asserting they have "no official business or professional relationship with Mr. Michael Jackson," but the headline was all that was necessary to raise the racial antenna of critics.
Why is this an issue? Because it's an effort to use the racially divisive history of an organization for the spin of all those involved in this sordid game.
This linkage has been seen before.
A few years ago, several members of Congress sent angry letters to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, demanding that they revoke security contracts from firms run by the NOI. It seems that many public housing complexes in Washington, D.C. and Chicago saw crime drop because of
The problem with all of this is that the Nation didn't own any of these security firms. Members of the Nation - a religious group - owned the security firms. Does that mean that since I am a member of a church
Anyone who has followed American politics and the thorny issue of race over the last 20 years could easily conclude that Farrakhan is a
polarizing figure. He has been called by white America a Jew hater and a man who considers whites to be devils. In black America, some consider him a wretched figure, while many others see him as being one black man who is unwilling to bow down the white racial supremacy. Like it or not, the Revs. Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and any black member of Congress could not have pulled off the Million Man March in 1995.
But in this case, I just refuse to take the bait. This guilt by association is often used to smear individuals and drive public perception on an issue. Everyone involved knows full well that the mere mention of Jackson aligning himself with Farrakhan will force Americans to take sides.
If Jackson has hired individuals who belong to the Nation of Islam to handle some of his affairs, he has every right to do so. But please, let's get the facts straight before we begin another race war like those that emanated from the O.J. Simpson case. God knows we don't have to re-live that nightmare again.
Unrelenting, uncompromising and downright honest. That's Roland S. Martin in his new book, Speak, Brother! A Black Man's View of America. Martin has covered a variety of stories and newsmakers in his nearly dozen years as a journalist. And in the course of doing so he has gained a significant insight into the triumphs and failings of this country's best and brightest. He tackles a variety of issues with passions, knowledge and spirituality. Whether it's commentaries on sports, social justice, business or the media, Roland S. Martin refuses to be pigeonholed as a conservative or a liberal; Democrat or Republican. As he puts it, he is simply "a black man in America."
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