Louis Farrakhan can't please folks these days, it seems. On Monday, he was hammered on WOLB - a local talk-radio station targeted to a black audience - for proposing that black Americans observe tomorrow as a day of atonement.
In the current issue of Vibe magazine, two letter-writers chastised him for being too moderate.
Now comes "The Phantom," who sent a four-page fax to The Sun about Farrakhan's proposed day of atonement. "The Phantom" isn't any more enamored of the idea than the callers to WOLB or the letter-writers to Vibe.
"In response to the October 13th article in which Louis Farrakhan trying to organize a day of atonement for black people: to understand his ideas properly is to realize that this man is a moron. Once again, he has shown his stupidity regarding the Jewish religion. And once again he is inferring [sic] that black Americans are an inferior race.
"Farrakhan only wants a day of atonement because the Jews have one. He wants black people to stay home from work and from school, which is supposed to show white people that they can no longer take blacks for granted. The Jewish day of #F atonement is not to show the world not to take Jews for granted, but to actually atone for the past year's sins and to reflect upon the future. The day is observed by spending 12 hours in synagogue praying and by fasting for 24 hours. Farrakhan makes no mention of actually having the black people atone for anything. He does not insist that they spend an entire day in a house of worship reflecting on the past and present."
Hold on there, Phantom! The fact is Farrakhan has insisted on exactly that. You depend too much on one article in The Sun and one "Meet the Press" interview to draw some erroneous conclusions about Farrakhan. In an Aug. 15 speech in Baltimore, he urged explicitly that blacks - indeed, all Americans - spend Oct. 16 at their church, synagogue or mosque. He urged specifically that blacks - and again, Americans in general - atone not only for past sins but for the wrong we are doing now. Farrakhan argues that America is a sinful nation. There are those on the Christian right who have said pretty much the same thing.
The Phantom fell into the same trap we all do. We shouldn't evaluate anyone - Louis Farrakhan, Rush Limbaugh, Newt Gingrich, Al Sharpton - based on the paltry information we get from the news media. In his Aug. 15 speech, Farrakhan gave many details of how tomorrow's day of atonement should be observed. If The Phantom didn't hear of them, the fault is with us, the news media, who gave the speech pathetic coverage.
"[Farrakhan] just wants all black Americans to stay home from work and ... school without any direction or meaning as to why," continued The Phantom. "He wants them to stay home while white people atone for slavery that existed generations ago."
Randy Tate and Earl Jackson of the Christian Coalition tackled this touchy subject of atonement for "slavery that existed generations ago." Both said there is biblical support for a nation atoning again and again for sins that were committed generations ago. Tate, Jackson and Farrakhan are on sound scriptural ground. The only reason white Americans of today stubbornly refuse to atone for slavery is pride - which I hear is one of the seven deadly sins and does indeed goeth before a fall.
"The Jews preach responsibility for their actions and strive for themselves," The Phantom claimed. "Farrakhan's ideals are completely opposite - for blacks not to take responsibility for past actions and to blame past and future problems on white America."
Not exactly. In his Aug. 15 speech, Farrakhan charged that blacks contributed to white racism by refusing to take responsibility for their actions and to do more for themselves.
"As for Farrakhan's political message, he states that white people will miss the cooks and baggage carriers," wrote The Phantom. "Once again, he had degraded his race. He is implying that blacks can only perform menial tasks. I would think white people would be more disappointed if their black heart surgeon didn't show up for an operation, or if their black lawyer didn't attend a court hearing, or their black accountant left them hangiing at an IRS audit."
The Phantom nailed Farrakhan on this one. I, too, was distressed that the Nation of Islam leader mentioned only cooks and baggage carriers out of all the occupations blacks represent in this country. The real shame is that he knows better. Many successful black Americans are getting paid quite well.
In that speech this past summer, Farrakhan's local minister asked for contributions. The requests started at $1,000. Such a donation would be quite out of the salary range of a cook or a baggage carrier.
Pub Date: 10/15/97