jones/bhandari djones at
Sun Oct 15 22:43:09 MDT 1995

>  This march represents a decisive breaking point, a point of despair, the
>>absolutization of the racial divide that will send this society to its doom. 
>>This is a monumental defeat for the left.  

I agree with Ralph about this.  There has been everything from enthusiasm 
to tepid support and criticism.  But hardly any sustained rational
dissection of what it is that Farrakhan represents, though I understand
that Angela Davis wrote a scathing criticism in Saturday's Washington Post,
and last Sunday's NYT reported the opposition of Adolph Reed, Jr.  USA
Today registered the criticsm of the feminist historian Paula Giddings. But
none of this will stop the madness of Farrakhan from engulfing the Black
community.  And Ralph's horror is the most genuine human emotion one can
have, I believe.  

There cannot be a criticism ruthless enough of this March.  

Farrakhan is a sinister man, as underlined by his comments on
blood-suckers.  But I still maintain that his true and real danger is to
the status of women, rights, reason and rational discussion within the
African-American community.  

By violence and ideologial intimidation, women will be forced into
submission.  And any program aimed at their economic independence will be
dismissed.  For Farrakhan and George Gilder alike, the fate of the
underclass depends on the oppression of women.  For Farrakhan and Gilder
alike, the underclass must be ridiculed if demands are made on public
institutions--education or health care, for example.  For Farrakhan and
Gilder alike, young Black men must be displined by the patriarch in the
home or in bootcamps, while young Black must be told they have no future as
independent human beings.  For both of these fascists, the mass of Black
people must have no more dreams than working as slave laborers for the
pettiest of the bourgeoisie.  For both of these sinister men, Black people
have no right to demand that the economy and polity be restructured
according to their human needs--Black people are to be treated and to treat
themselves as pariahs from mainstream life.    

Don't kid yourself.  Farrakhan is not, as Adolph Reed has pointed out,
simply an organic product of the Black community.  He is the creation of
negative media attention; the more he is criticized,the more people are
guilt-tripped into following him.  And the more negative media attention he
receives, the more power people can experience vicariously by identifying
with him.  

And don't forget that Farrakhan uses hoodlums to sell his papers and push
his line.  They are aggressive and irrational in their promotion of their
leader. They often don't respect other people, the very people against whom
they were commiting their lumpen crimes  before being reformed by The Great
Thug-- who has killed before to establish himslef as the great and
uncontested demagogue. Other Black demagogues from the NAACP to SCLC to the
National Urban Leagure are merely jealous of him, of his ability to usurp
totally their counter-insurgent role.  

None of this is funny.  And many people are frightened to criticize the
Nation of Islam.

And if you expose Farrakhan for what he is--Gilder in Blackface--what then
do you leave people with?  Nothing.  For after Willie Horton, the racist
drug wars, the furor over affirmative action, Black people don't feel they
can trust  white or immigrant people.
They are not impressed with the general criticism of the Bell Curve.  It
was too tepid. 

 The racism is so great and the distrust so deep that Black people, despite
frequent doubts about Farrakhan, are about to believe anything--that white
people are motivated by a fear of genetic annihilation;that Black women are
too arrogant and must be shut up if men are to become responsbile; that the
economic failures of Black men are primarily the result of a unique moral
failure which is the legacy of slavery. For Farrakhan, the task is
obliterate concern about the desperation, as well as real pathological
consequences, which result from social and economic isolation.  I don't
romanticize what goes down in the 'hood, and at the same time I don't treat
the ghetto out of its context in a political economy of exclusion.  

Ralph decries the end of Martin Luther King's dream of integration. 
Farrakhan does teach hate and mistrust towards anyone who is not Black.  My
sense is that it is actually this hatred and mistrust, more than his
positive programme, that appeals to people.  

 The only strategy for revolutionaries is to be as critical of what
Farrakhan says about non-blacks as what he is proposing for Blacks--women
*and* men.  Remember Gilder is willing to tolerate Farrakhan's external
intolerance so that he may both carry his message against women's economic
independence into the Black community  and lambast Black men's moral
deficiencies. For Gilder, Farrakhan is tolerable as long as he gets people
to accept the hell of their existence and forgo any materialist demands for
their emancipation. 

But Ralph, I must say that I am not nearly as pessismistic as you are about
the future of African-American political life; the militias and Christian
Right have not made me totally pessismistic about whites either.  For
everywhere, there burns the real desire for enlightment, to use reason to
understand reality the better to shape it in accordance with happiness and
need.  It has not been extinguished.  Fight on, comrade.    
Rakesh Bhandari

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