My Facebook friends are over the moon about an event Thursday night at the Scientology Community Center in Los Angeles that featured some of our best friends appearing with Nation of Islam’s Tony Muhammad. “Inspiring to see this community coming together to fight for our right to choose what goes into our bodies,” wrote one Facebooker.
Sorry, but to my mind this is not a kumbaya moment. The Nation of Islam is a racist, bigoted, homophobic, woman-degrading hate group. I mean, isn’t it? It is. For Muhammad to compare the coverage of autism and the Nation of Islam is sickening, and it ought to sit poorly with us. It's also choice to talk about "people of all ages, nations, races all together to fight for our kids" and getting "closer together" when NOI doesn't really want white people around -- they want a separate state. ("Rather than preaching a message of unification, NOI calls for segregation and separatism," according to the Web site the blaze.com. "On the group’s web site, the denomination is clear that it wishes for African Americans to live separately from whites.")
Sometimes it's not the media that's your problem, it's the truth.According to the Extremist Files of the Southern Poverty Law Center, “Since its founding in 1930, the Nation of Islam (NOI) has grown into one of the wealthiest and best-known organizations in black America, offering numerous programs and events designed to uplift African Americans. Nonetheless, its bizarre theology of innate black superiority over whites — a belief system vehemently and consistently rejected by mainstream Muslims — and the deeply racist, anti-Semitic and anti-gay rhetoric of its leaders, including top minister Louis Farrakhan, have earned the NOI a prominent position in the ranks of organized hate.”
Let’s pick one Farakkhan gem: "T]he Jews don't like Farrakhan, so they call me Hitler. Well, that's a good name. Hitler was a very great man.” Taken out of context, I'm sure. Oh, "And don't you forget, when it's God who puts you in the ovens, it's forever!")
He hates Catholics, too. “It is no secret that Farrakhan is anti-Catholic, as well as anti-Jewish,” according to the church’s bigotry watchdog, which noted, “Cardinal Bevilacqua refused to meet with him in Philadelphia. Farrakhan had sought a meeting with the Archbishop of Philadelphia, as well as with local Jewish leaders, and was turned down—for reasons evident to everyone but Farrakhan.”
To continue with the SPLC, “While Jews remain the primary target of Farrakhan's vitriol, he is also well known for bashing gay men and lesbians, Catholics and, of course, the white devils, whom he calls ‘potential humans ... [who] haven't evolved yet.’ All of this has helped make him attractive to certain white supremacist groups who agree that the races must be separated. In its turn, NOI has come to view white supremacists as people who at least understand NOI's program and could therefore become allies.”
I know many in the autism activism community believe there is no problem with this association, that you use what you have to get what you need. Sorry to disagree with that, Friends, but I do. Desperate times call for desperate measures, yes, but not deals with the (small d) devils of racism, bigotry and homophobia.
This brings us to our reducto ad absurdum: Would we go to an Aryan Nation event if they agreed with us? Is "Racists For Vaccine Choice!" a placard we are prepared to get behind?
Not the best week to ask that question.
Dan Olmsted is Editor of Age of Autism.