Sunday, March 2, 2008

Why Obama Denounced Farrakhan

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

During the recent Democratic debate, I saw Barack Obama getting pushed into the

"black corner". This is the same corner that Hillary and Bill Clinton pushed him into during the campaign in South Carolina. The same corner that caused some Americans to (temporarily) limit him to being "just another black candidate", instead of a potential visionary who can guide our country out of one of it's darkest periods.

This time, Hillary's weapon of choice was Minister Louis Farrakhan. Those who hate Farrakhan usually don't know much about him. Most have never heard him speak, and probably can't tell you anything about what he's done for this country.

Those of us who respect him know exactly why we respect him. We also understand why others respect him, even though he is quite direct and unique in many of his perspectives.

I admire Louis Farrakhan because Minister Farrakhan, quite simply, is the freest black man in America. He makes his own money, and speaks his mind. We listen to him because he is one of the few black men in America who remind black people of what they can really become.

Yes, he has had a problem with Jews, as many Muslims do. While there is certainly room to challenge Israel's oppressive policies against the Palestinians, any form of consistent antisemitism is simply regrettable. Those who've followed him through time would notice that Minister Farrakhan has dramatically changed his language as it pertains to Israel, as well as those who disagree with him. Therefore, he too has grown.

Most importantly, Louis Farrakhan is not only the most eloquent and powerful speaker in America, he is what we all strive to be: Free black men and women. That is, in my humble opinion, why we followed him to the Million Man March. That is why we cry when he speaks. He speaks to the soul of the black experience in a way that is painfully honest and quite direct. He also advocates for the building of a black state in a way that feels necessary in a nation that (through 400 years of economic and social exclusion) allows black children to go to terrible inner city schools and incarcerates black men in holocaust proportions. After living through a 400 year nightmare, we are invited to sit at the American dinner table, as long as we agree to mute any serious discussion regarding how this socioeconomic inequality came to be.

Louis Farrakhan, in one of his most exemplary moments, recently issued a statement telling supporters of Barack Obama not to relinquish their support for Obama in spite of Hillary Clinton's forced denunciation of Farrakhan and his words.

This shows that Farrakhan "gets it". He knew that Hillary Clinton was again, in her typically liberal, paternalistic and ultimately racist way, trying to use Obama's blackness as a weapon against him. She knows that, in America, being black is a liability in the eyes of many white Americans, and the "blacker" Barack is, the more votes he would lose. Her support of black people all these years has been driven through puppy dog sympathy, self-congratulation and opportunism, with the full expectation that we should worship her for being kind enough to associate with the downtrodden.

I see that kind of racism all the time when dealing with liberals here at Syracuse University. For some, black people are somewhat acceptable, but never quite treated as equals, nor considered competent enough to actually lead the organizations with which we've become affiliated. That is why my university, to this day, has never seriously considered a black person to become chancellor. That is also why the vast majority of academic departments have not tenured a black person in over 100 years of operating history.

Unlike my respected brother, Tavis Smiley, Louis Farrakhan sees that Obama's candidacy is not about egos and power. It is about making America better and Black America better in the process. Farrakhan also understands that it is because he is so far ahead of his time, that most of America would not understand why any other Black American might hold Farrakhan in high regard. In fact, we are punished for publicly supporting Farrakhan, as Obama would surely have been attacked.

But the rest of us understand. Obama, in his equally elegant manner, was careful to denounce Farrakhan's words without denouncing Farrakhan. This is exactly why, in spite of the words of some, Barack Obama certainly is "black enough" for all of us. It is also why he is going to be the next President of The United States.

I congratulate both of these men for jumping the hurdle. Their tactics differ, their paths are divergent, but their grace, power and magnificence simply cannot be denied.


Anonymous said...

I respect Farrakhan as well. But, the TIMING of his statements is questionable. I think he felt left out of the discussion where Jackson, Sr. and Sharpton were getting invites from the media and the ability to speak on Obama's candidacy. He wanted to be important again and part of the discussion by the media. Farrakhan became relevant again eventhough he is battling illness. Ask Bill Cosby. LOL.

Farrakhan got that wish for notoriety, let's just see if the rest of America is willing to support Obama and ignore the Farrakhan link. That still remains to be seen especially when a black man like Farrakhan is so despised by Jews and White America. Ask Arsenio Hall when his show was cancelled after he had Farrakhan speak.

We shall see the effect. But, Boyce, this is a tad different, Obama can use the "race card" against a white man like Bill Clinton especially with a majority of South Carolina having the black vote.

Farrakhan is a different story and the upcoming contests are a little different than the makeup of South Carolina on March 4, but Obama handled it the best he could. We shall see if the voters in Ohio, Texas, Rhode Island and Vermont feel the same way.

Linda Harris said...

It is so refreshing to hear brillant men as yourself, Obama, Mr. Farrakkhan, Rev. Sharpton, etc..

I am so greatful, for Obama and his smart and brave wife, Michelle. I believe we are on our way to true freedom and expression, and it feels damn good. However, the anticipation of wanting this race to be over, have me in full gear. It's so nice to have such a father like Mr. Farrakkhan to be able to distinguish what was going on during the debate in Ohio. I looke forward to hearing him much, much more. I remember going to see Farrakkhan via sattelite in my hometown of E. St. Louis, IL, and we happened to be wearing the same colors. I knew then that I was chosen and so is he. Let's stop hiding our love for Farrakkhan, and show the world that we stand with him.

I love your spirit. Thank you for being willing to address the Tavis situation, truth should always be told even at the expense of being rejected. If Tavis and Obama has not yet reconciliated, do all you can to bring them together. Tavis has a good heart, he was just hurt, he wanted his brother to share that day with him. And, I do understand Obama's committment, and I hope now Tavis understand. Let's stop embarrassing our sister/brothers before America. We help them keep us divided.

Grace and peace

Anonymous said...

Free thought means that we don't take personal agreement or disagreements. We allow INDIVIDUALS (not monolithic bandwagon groups) to express their opinions free of intimidation or physical violence.

Obama, Farrakhan, Tavis Smiely, Jackson, Sr., Sharpton, and Boyce Watkins should be allowed to express their thoughts. All have one thing in common, hopefully, to ensure us as a people can live out the true meaning of the creed of the Declaration of Independence. Hopefully, women be allowed to be considered in that same categoy.

I have no problem with Tavis expressing his opinion. It is part of free thought. We should agree to disagree. Not try to be so monolithic b/c a majority of blacks think Obama is our only chance to prove to White America that we are equal. Even if it does not work out, we must continue to be beings of free thought and allow DIVERSITY of opinion to reign in a democratic society. Not stifle it b/c we disagree with a person.

Anonymous said...

One must wonder why everytime a african american seems to reach some stature in this country they are asked to repudiate Minister Farrakhan? What are they afraid of? The truth coming out possibly. I don't believe a vote for Obama is a vote for freedom i'm still not wrapped around and totally in love with this candidate. I have questions of how this man suddenly out of no where gained superstardom and also the fact he is related to both Cheney and Bush.

Anonymous said...

Black America needs to ''wake up'' out of it's Civil Rights Era of 'having a Dream' as well as their disappointment of being unsuccessful with the backlash affects of integration/assimilation. It is my understanding; first and foremost, that when Minister Louis Farrakhan was asked to comment about the likelihood of success that Senator Obama would have, Minister Farrakhan on national television that, in so many words, would not be able to accomplish that in ''America"". Ladies and Gentlemen of Black America, guess what? the world is Global!!!!!!!!! Economically, Politically, etc. AS IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN!!!! 40 Years from segregation and the ''right'' to vote, Black America still cant ''think its way outside the segregated Mason Dixon perspective of 'we have had not, therefore we will not' Check this out, ""Black Americans"" have no ''nation'' behind them nor ''nationality'' in the truest sense of the word unless they get a DNA test!!!!!!!! Then, and only then can they find out if indeed they are Nigerian-American, Congolese-American, Ghanaian-American, etc. Obama comes from a Nation that is on ''The Horn of Africa!!!!"" check the map. Kenya neigbors Ethiopia and Somalia not to mention Arab Nations. This country votes to stop another Muslim Attack and to continue with the negotiations and open talks with Muslim leaders that Condoleeza Rice has spent many a trip to the ''Middle East'' has started. McCain has Military Experience IN COMBAT. He is trained to obey orders from his superiors with a salute and the conviction to commit troops to Iran if DEEMED necessary his cabinet and the Secretary of Defense, CIA, NSA and the like as President. AS COMMANDER IN CHEIF, HE can meet in the oval office in Washington, my friends, to discuss the possibility of a draft as well as the deployment of Allied troops to continue pushing an armed attack forward. For Christ's sake, he is considering Colin Powell, a Military Strategist, as the Vice President; all with the Intent that if, and in case, there is another attack or serious threat, Martial Laws would not take too much time to be put in affect. Yes, Colin Powell is Black. Hurricane Katrina was ''textbook'' for a FEMA national emergency class, 52% of the Country is foreclosure, China floated their currency 3 times in a year, the past year; dropping the NYSE 400 points and black people arent even profiting nor sustaining themselves with (not even from) any agricutlural economy?????????!!!!!!!! Example cotton to clothes, vegetables to supermarkets and bakeries and restaurants. Yet we have eloquence to 'look up to'? can you eat with a speech?For how long? you applaud finance men with words and phrases and clauses that keep telling you that you are ''in a situation'' yet Elijah Muhammad's 3 year Economic Plan doesnt feed a 2 year old in ANY black neighborhood not because it wont work but because its IS NoT Being IMPLEMENTED.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!The Messenger said take the muslim program to congress. yet all we applaud is some loud mouth Congresswoman who ''drops a dime'' on Bush? Freedom of Speech is priceless but ""talk is cheap"" When every morsel of bread you eat and every drop of water you drink is PROVIDED for you, that means even your sharecropping skills are being taken away to the point you cant ''feed yourselves from seed to plate. your labor? Mexicans have a country behind them my dear brothers and sisters. Their then President signed the NAFTA deal with then President Clinton. check the ''grown in Mexico'' labels for your lettuce and beans,fruits and corn. they dont need you to pick vegetables no more!!!!!!!!oh and by the way, the OIL in Mexico makes the deal sweeter!!!!!!!!!! So before ya laugh about them Mexicans working for $5 American dollars, consider on the ''currency exchange'' they get richer ''in their country''.... as the Peso ''Pay So''. America is so savvy with their future in foreign policy in perspective, they are advertising a Clinton/Obama Democratic Ticket.... for the sophisticated voter.

Black America, vote for your future.
think globally, for the economy's sake and for the sake of not being bombed again

Anonymous said...

America is thinking globally.

We are not going to have Bush, Jr.

Thank God!

MahoganyShotgun said...

Ha Ha Ha, someone came here to make a plug for positioning The ClintonS, when the original post was about Farrakhan.

I don't understand that person's logic.

On the one hand, "he" claims we are crippled living hand to mouth because free trade has made this country lazy about SELF production, ...

...then, on the other hand, imply it's a good thing our dollar is getting weaker to Mexican currency because of NAFTA, ...

...but vote for the people who've made that weaker US dollar possible.

NO.... not sold.

There is a way to strengthen other countries economically without it "hurting the US" employment and per capita base. I'm not impressed with the current US-side outcomes of NAFTA.

We can strengthen the peso all we want, it just means the rich get richer. US currency strengthened during slavery, but the slaves did not benefit. As a matter of fact, because the US dollar became stronger, there was a demand for the EXPANSION of slave labor into new territories.

A stronger peso without positive social outcomes for the WORKERS, does NOT improve the quality of life among the country's working class base. If we can't help improve the quality of life for the working base, then we will always have "illegal" immigrants searching for a better quality of life.

Why is that so hard to understand?

Slavery drove slaves to WANT to run away,... oh but the dollar strengthened.

Mexicans aren't slaves, of course, but the concept can be applied in understanding that oppressive labor practices versus the desire to escape oppressive labor practices, takes precedence over whatever the strength the currency may be.

Miranda said...

Farrakhan said last year that he supported Barack and that he thought Barack SHOULD distance himself from him because of just what we're seeing. Farrakhan knows how this game is played.

Anonymous said...

Minister Farrakhan is not only the voice of Blacks, he is a divinely guided man who should be looked at as such by not only our people but to all of humanity. He is no light weight, he has the backing of almighty god, and in a few days the whole world will bare witness to this. Remember the unseen is bigger than what you see!!

MahoganyShotgun said...

Well, Minister Farrakhan does not speak for the souls of all black folk, firtly. I respect his right to his opinions.

Secondly, apparently Farrakhan and Obama aren't that close, if Farrakhan needed to pick up a microphone to tell Obama how much he likes him.

Thirdly, I did raise an eyebrow at Farrakhan's endorsement, if as you say, he knows how the "game is played" and knows HE is a controversial person. It was pausing to think that Farrakhan wouldn't know what effect his endorsement would have on Obama. It appears Farrakhan may have had another agenda, beside supporting a presidencial candidate.... perhaps, an attempt to keep himself relevant to the broader changing times.

Anonymous said...

maghonyshotgun you really sound like a fool. Minister Farrakhan simply said he though Barack was a good person and contary to what you uncle toms may think, the Minister does have a right to state his opinion. Minister Farrakhan is a good man who is doing a lot of good for the community. What exactly are YOU doing.
This was a VERY GOOD article. I am so glad I got to chance to read. To the author THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. Its nice to read something positive about the Minister.

Melafela said...

Clearly Obama understands the subtle nuances that are inherently present in the discourse concerning race in America. By its very nature racism is hypocritical. After all it assumes there is such a thing as multiple humanities and not just one... ie., the white race and black race and the non color designated races (ie., asians .. who by the way make of most of humanity currently ) are all more than superfiscially different.

One is left many times with little hope to be able to have a dialogue about race that isn't peppered with subjective dogma and deeply held resentments on both sides.

Skillfully Barack understands how to navigate this in a way that many of us could learn from. This is no small gift. This is the gift that America will need to receive unwrap and use if it is to prosper and become a people ie., (One nation ... indivisible )

In the case of Farrakhan, many in the black community have always disagreed with some of the rhetoric he uses. This is nothing new. Take for instance even the basic tenets of the Nation of Islam stating that Master (and you know how we love that name) Farrad Muhammad was "God in person". A lot of Christans right off the bat had issues with that. Certainly a few eyebrows were raised when he would discuss the "Wheel" detail. Even if blacks secretly wished there were "Scientists" that navigate a ship the size of a city waiting to intervene on black people's behalf.

Yet, it is undeniable that Farrakhan spoke like we wished to speak. He talked about what it was that pained black people all over the world , not just in America... his level of empathy towards the black experience is taken as genuine.

Obama certianly fits into the talented tenth mode that W.E.B DuBois wrote and spoke about. Blacks people certainly need not agree with him to understand clearly what his role is not just now but in the context of a history, specifically Black history.. African history.

This is a history that stretches beyond the 16th Century when this particular chapter of black denegration was begun... and will continue beyond this current period of black uncertainty.It is too late for Barack Obama to be forgotten.

Min Farrakhan spoke to black people about understanding this context and long vision. He stated facts about Africans being a part of the a legacy that stretched back to the origins of humanity itself.. a now widely accepted scientific, sociologic, and historical fact.

I agree with Obama's handling of this attack on his sense of morality and his ability to stay loyal to his community and America at large.

Barack moves clearly with a sense of understanding himself in the context of history while being honest about his disagreement about Farrakhans opinions, rhetoric and methodology.

This is how a world leader should behave... fearless in rendering an opinion that he/she feels is informed and correct. This is not a man who at the drop of a hat or in fear of having his people lable him a "sell out" is going to say anything other than what is on his mind. This is almost near novel in the political relm. This is bravery in a world where people need to confer with others in order to formulate their own opinions.

Farrakhan is a part of the black community whether black people like it or not and
certainly he would be the first to agree with the policy that "we agree to disagree" . ... Most importantly for us both he and Barack would admonish black people to make sure to "Keep your eyes... on the prize".

Melafela blogs online under the heading Black cultivation.

Anonymous said...

We as a people need to learn who our enemies are. We have a tendency to tell White folks all our business. Many of the comments that I've read should be personal in nature to black people only. Do we really think that these websites are secure?

Anonymous said...


I want you to shut the fu-k up! You speak such hyperbole; and, you are very incoherent in your commentary.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I understand your thesis/your argument--obama has to play the house negro to deal with the racism of racists in this society, in order to be president.

Listen everybody, do not think for a minute that obama is a "free negro" like farrakahn is; ask dr. Boyce. He said that farrakahn is the freest Black man that he knows. Why? Because he makes his own money and speaks his own mind.

melafela said...


I am not sure why I should "shut the F_K up" . At best I may have rambled a bit (I'll own that one) but certainly couching my comments in hyperboles was intentional. Barack Obama is one of many who came to Washington in 1995 to stand in Solidary with 1 million other brothers.

At that time we pledged that "we were one". The inspired are now bearing seed. If one listens keenly to Min Farrakhan no doubt you will see , the level at which he is speaking.

We choose to take the long view...-mela out