An Open Letter to Louis Farrakhan

by Dr. Gregory Tomlin |

(REUTERS/John Gress)Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, speaks at a funeral for civil rights activist Rosa Parks at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, Michigan, Nov. 2, 2005. Parks' refusal to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus to a white man 50 years ago helped break racial segregation in America.

NEW YORK (Christian Examiner) – When I was a child, playing baseball was a rite of passage. I loved the game then and I still do. In fact, I watch it nightly.

One of the most important things I learned while playing was that when the pitcher fires one across the middle of the plate – in the sweet spot about thigh high – it is time to swing at the pitch and give the ball a ride, hopefully over the fence.

We called that pitch a "melon," "air mail" or "a meat pitch."

You lobbed such a pitch my way in July when you said at a Miami church – a supposedly Christian church where the Prince of Peace should be proclaimed and worshipped – that the time may be nearing to exercise the right of retaliation prescribed in the Quran. I think just about all who heard it – those of us who live at peace with our neighbors of various races – were gobsmacked when you used words like "kill" and "stalk," and then "kill" again.

I knew immediately what you said was newsworthy because it highlighted the increasing racial tensions between poor blacks and the police. And whether such rhetoric is the cause of those tensions or a consequence of them is irrelevant. It is my job to report what you said accurately and fairly.

You have since made additional statements about how your words were misreported. You have called those who wrote about your call for "10,000 fearless" both "mischief makers" and "lying devils." You have said now on three occasions, and I suppose it helps your movement for you to continue doing so, that you never said "kill all white people."

Interestingly, I didn't write that either – not all white people at least.

I did, however, reach back in the file and pull out multiple statements you've made in the past forty years calling for the death of "white devils," claiming that the white man's mind must be "put to eternal rest," and "Crackers" like me are forever your enemy. I even read the context of the comments you made in Miami, and couched between your statement that white people are deceptive "like serpents" and your promises of salvation for black people in the Mahdi, the Muslim messiah, there it was.

You told your followers to "stalk them and kill them."

Now, I ask you this: Is there any other possible legitimate, rational and logical way for a journalist to interpret your words, given 40 years of recorded sermons lambasting white devils and calling for the defeat of your white enemy, than to conclude you promoted the murder of innocent white people?

Yes, yes. I forgot. You have said there are no innocent white people. We have all benefitted from the "foundation" black people laid in building America. We are all part of an ignoble race created to frustrate your progress as the original creation of Allah.

You see, Mr. Farrakhan, I'm not just a "journalist." I learned of your movement 20 years ago and studied Black Liberation Theology, Islam, and the Nation of Islam for a significant period of time. I even contemplated writing my doctoral dissertation on your movement, contrasting it with the non-violent movement of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Dr. King may have talked about making whites feel "economic pain" through withholding dollars from their companies, but he never used words that could be interpreted as advocating violence or diminishing the humanity of the whites oppressing him. That's why his movement was successful and why he attracted whites to his cause, as well.

Even now, his legacy is still with us. After the murder of the parishioners at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, there were no riots in the streets and no calls for retaliation from other church members. We saw blacks standing by whites, and whites hugging and crying with blacks, and ministers of the gospel from both communities searching for a redemptive outcome to such a terrible tragedy.

As I both teach and write about your theology, which doesn't contain a hope of redemption for all people, I am still no less shocked that you continue to attract such a large following. I am also utterly astonished that you have deceived so many of my black brothers and sisters in Christ, who host you in their churches and stand to applaud as you call for retaliation.

A few nights ago, I listened to your Memphis address again and told my wife that I have listened to few orators as skilled as you, but very few with as dangerous a message. Had you been a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ, I have no doubt you would have ushered many souls toward the throne of grace. Instead, you've used your platform to promote racism, division and retaliation in the name of your god.

In our country, you hold the rights of religious liberty and free speech. It is your right to believe what you wish and say what you wish, no matter how caustic and irresponsible. You are free to mingle Christianity, Islam, Scientology and Zoroastrianism if you wish. You cannot, however, lay claim to any ministry in the name of Jesus Christ, in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female – and, might I add, black or white – that calls on your followers to stalk and kill.

As I have no doubt you will continue to stoke the embers of racial strife in the name of Allah, I say, "very well." You keep pitching them and I – along with other journalists – will keep hitting them.

Only think of what change you could bring to your community and our country if you gave your heart completely and wholly to Christ and him alone, abandoned the error of Islam and sought to reconcile instead of divide.

In the name of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Father of Jesus Christ his Son, the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, who created all things and all men in his image, and who so clearly demonstrated a love for his creation conquering all insult, injury and sin on the cross,

Dr. Gregory Tomlin

A Mischief Maker

 

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