A few weeks ago, I wrote about a lecture I gave to George Washington University students examining the legacy of Malcolm X in which I informed them that Malcolm has been proven wrong.
Stanley Crouch has written an excellent piece in the NY Daily News in which he essentially agrees with what I told those students: Black Nationalism is an escapist ideology that leads to nowhere. It is a monumental failure and was a major loser on November 4, 2008:
Former Secretary of State James Baker once said that the free advice from a man who offered his opinions often was worth what the secretary had paid for it.
As Osama Bin Laden‘s top deputy, Zawahiri knows a mark when he sees one and believes black Americans to be a collective chump gullible enough to be swayed by arguments against Obama that try to smack him with the dead horse of black nationalism.
The threatening video issued last week was intended to whip up support for what is known as radical Islam by using a martyr to a lost cause, Malcolm X.
Malcolm X was one of the naysayers to American possibility whose vision was permanently crushed beneath the heel of Obama’s victory on Nov. 4. Though his ideas had nothing to do with the ultimate form of nonviolence – voting – those desperate to praise him will pretend now that he was actually a civil rights leader! This has been going on for an unforgivably long time, especially among black academics.
Malcolm X had nothing to do with Obama’s accomplishment as did none of the other militants who preached their own version of separatism and gleefully attacked the civil rights movement as offering no more than pie in the sky and misleading black people.
So Malcolm X was no more than a charismatic heckler of the civil rights movement and a man whose career was soaked in racism, potted history and absurd ideas of one sort or another.
He was a good rabble-rouser and he was a good saber rattler. On Feb. 21, 1965, he was murdered in public as one of the victims of the tribal wars that distinguished radical black nationalist cults and purported “revolutionary” leadership like the Black Panthers.
If not for Spike Lee‘s film about him, Malcolm X would have been forgotten. His legacy did not add up to inspiring one important piece of legislation, leading one important march or actually getting anything done that had objective significance.
So why would Zawahiri praise this dead horse of black nationalism as an “honorable black American” and say to Obama “in you and in Colin Powell, [Condoleezza] Rice and your likes, the words of Malcolm X (may Allah have mercy on him) concerning ‘House Negroes’ are confirmed …?” Quite simply because he was also able to say, much more accurately, that the assassinated rabble-rouser had called for the “worldwide revolution against the Western power structure.”
Where exactly is that worldwide revolution taking place right now? Actually, it exists in every place where people are inspired by Obama’s victory to believe even more deeply in the ability that democracy provides for extraordinary hope and change.
That appeals to far more people than trash talking and gun waving and threatening to overthrow the federal government. Or making it all about, as Malcolm X predicted, “the bullet or the ballot.” He was wrong about that as he was wrong about almost everything that he said. He had plenty of verbal flourish but, in the end, it was all no more than hot air.
The real hero of that moment and the prophet of what we have seen over these last months since the Iowa primary is clearly the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He and all of those who rejected black nationalism and the threat of violence were the ones we should revere.
They amounted to such visionaries that they reached across the ethnic aisle and made so many friends and allies over the long march to this presidential election that it is an insult to their accomplishments to add the names of people like Malcolm X to the list of great Americans that they comprise
My own view: Stanley Crouch nailed it. While I did not like a racist Arab trying to appropriate Malcolm, that does not negate what I wrote previously on this issue. Malcolm and the black nationalists were wrong. That is an entirely separate issue from allowing an Arab racist to appropriate Malcolm for his own evil ends.
At one time, I believed in the “revolutionary” talk of the Malcolm X’s, but I grew to see the futility and wrongheadedness of it. It is a dead end. PERIOD.