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WVON Host Cliff Kelley interview with The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan
[Editor's note: The following are excerpts from the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan's discussion with Cliff Kelley on WVON 1690 AM—The Talk of Chicago live radio program on April 2, 2009. Click here to order full interview CD/DVD.]
WVON Host Cliff Kelley (CK): Let's start off with something you've been talking about not only at Saviours' Day, but you have run a number of columns in The Final Call newspaper relative to “accountability,” and what we need to do, as African Americans, to improve our own communities.
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan (HMLF): With the election of President Barack Obama, the Black community has been lifted far beyond our wildest expectations. And unfortunately, many of us think that because we have a Black president, that it means the end of our problems. And that the presence of an African American as the president of the United States would signal that this is a “post-racial America”; and, that all of a sudden, our problems will be addressed and solved.
There is no doubt that having an African American president can help to solve some of our problems, but in reality, no benevolent White president—or Black president—can be looked at as the total solution to the plethora of problems of the Black community. We have to accept responsibility to rectify the condition that prevails in our communities because no one else can do it for us. This is something that we have to do for ourselves.
CK: Where do we start with that?
HMLF: The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, who is the leader of the Nation of Islam, has said to us that God Himself has imposed on every creature the duty of doing something for itself. No creature looks to another to feed it, clothe it, shelter it, educate it, take care of its young—that is our responsibility. And as long as we permit others to do that for us, then we will never be considered free, justified or equal to other human beings who are doing this for themselves and their people.
So we have to accept that responsibility, and it begins with the reception of knowledge, for the Bible doesn't teach that our people are destroyed because they are “Black.” The Bible teaches that we are destroyed for the lack of knowledge. And our ignorance is being manipulated by smart, crooked deceivers who have put us at odds with each other. So it is the introduction, not just of common knowledge, but of the proper knowledge that God has revealed to correct the condition that 450 years of slavery and injustice has produced among Black people.
CK: You have said that a stimulus package is not the “final answer.” Are you saying that a lot of people who are depending on this are going to be disappointed?
HMLF: In my mind, I know that no stimulus package can save America from what America is now facing. In my Saviours' Day message [March 1, 2009], I said that Barack Obama has inherited the fall of America as a great nation and power. When you look at the fall of the greatest nation in the last 6,000 years—the destruction of her institutions; her educational institutions falling apart; politics in a shamble; economics in a shamble—this brother comes to be president at a time like this. And the wisdom of those who surround him is suspect, because many of them are apart of the old that has produced much of the fall. Now, they are the ones who are expected to bring America up out of this.
There are three things that have produced, economically, the “Perfect Storm”: 1) Deficit Spending exploding the national debt; 2) Decreasing foreign purchase of United States debt; and 3) The Federal Reserve monetization of the deficit and debt, which means printing money where nothing is to back it up in order to make up for spending and borrowing shortfalls. These three factors are what have caused the downward pressure on the sovereign credit rating of the United States. In a perfect storm, ships can't function well, and this ship of state is not going to be able to function well with these economic indications of America's fall.
CK: It was announced that the Israeli government, under the new Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu, has stated that if America does not do something relative to Iran, [Israel] is going to make sure that they do not end up with nuclear weapons.
Whether Iran is trying to get weapons, or not, [I think] everybody has the ability to protect themselves. Where does this put us since America has this seemingly cart blanche support of the Israeli government?
HMLF: America and Israel are supposedly “friends,” but America has refused to say something to her friend. Israel, right now, is seen in the world as a “pariah state”; and America has lost influence in the world simply because she has looked the other way when the Israeli Defense Force has committed massacres against the Palestinian people. What happened in Lebanon and Gaza has damaged the image of Israel throughout the world.
It seems to me that if I have a friend, and he's in my car; and he has a bag of reefer—I'm putting it on street terms—and my friend knows that if I get caught, and I don't have anything like that on me, he is going to endanger me because we are friends. So, if I am a true friend, I say, “Brother, get that bag out of my car, because I'm not going to lose my car and go to jail because of what you are doing. I'm your friend, but you are not doing a friendly thing.”
America has leverage with Israel that she is afraid to use. And this goes to the strength of AIPAC (American Israel Political Affairs Committee), which is comprised of powerful men and women of influence. … Why don't the members of Congress speak when they know that the things that Israel is doing will hurt them, and hurt America as well? It is because they are afraid that if they go against what is seemed to be beneficial to Israel, they will lose their position? That means that these people are no longer the representatives of the American people. They are the representatives of the money interests that they fear; that control them.
CK: Everybody trades with Cuba but America. Do you see President Obama normalizing relations with Cuba?
HMLF: I would hope that relations with Cuba would warm up. We have been to Cuba, and have met with Comandante Fidel Castro and members of the government several times. When we have traveled in the country, and taught in some of their schools, we have seen that 60-70 percent of the Cuban people look like us [Black people]. So the sanctions on Cuba have hurt, not only those that are in power, but they have hurt the little people of Cuba, which are our brothers and sisters.
And so, I am hopeful that President Barack Obama will change that policy toward Cuba; and that normal relations will come to Cuba. If Cuba is a “communist” nation, well, America has relations with China—and that's a communist nation. America has normal relations with Vietnam! How can America justify that, and not justify having normal relations with a country that is 90 miles from her shore?
CK: We're going to take a caller. “Yaphet,” you are on the Talk of Chicago.
Yaphet: Minister, I am trying my best to go on this crusade to save the young people who are out there doing the gang violence and the killing. I'm talking to some of the youngsters in my neighborhood [in] the South Shore area, trying to [say to them] “You young people are our future! We're not going to have a future if you keep knocking each other out with this silly gang violence!”
HMLF: Thank you, brother. Our children are victims of a terrible conspiracy. In the Bible, when Pharaoh saw the multiplication of the numbers of the Children of Israel, he said, “Come. Let us deal wisely with them, lest they multiply and join on to an enemy of ours, and come against us.” So, the conspiracy was to kill all male children, and spare the females.
Right now, if you look at the Black community, there are Black men dying in unprecedented numbers. When you look at the college campuses of America, you find Black women predominant, and Black men less. Black men are filling the prison. Black men are sick with AIDS, and Black women are the No. 1 carrier of the AIDS virus, according to what they say. There is a conspiracy to destroy us as a people. When we see a people being marginalized, the next stage of that marginalization is their extinction. What better way to do it than to bring guns into our community? Drugs into our community? And AIDS into our community?
What you tell the young people is true, but we have to go deeper. We not only have to teach our young people, but we have to give them a sense of their greatness. They are the greatest generation that we have ever produced. They are fearless. They are born warriors. They are not like their parents, or grandparents. They are very, very different. And the enemy knows this, so he calculates separating the youth from the wisdom of age and experience.
I wish that my Black brothers and sisters would help Brother Farrakhan to get out of prison. I am not in a prison of “steel bars”—I am in a prison of public opinion manipulated by the media and their hatred of the truth that is in my mouth that would set our people free. Help me to get out of prison. Stop looking at the Nation of Islam as though we are some enemy to Black people. Open the door of the schools, and let us go in and teach! We don't have to teach religion. Just teach truth, and these young people will rise up! They will be disciplined. They will see their future, and then the condition in our community will change.
CK: “Earl” from Hyde Park, you are on the Talk of Chicago with the Minister!
Earl: A couple of things are going on in the Black community, I think. We're having a dialogue as to whether we feel that our President is devoting enough time to the plight of the Black community. And, especially when he was asked by one of the news media, a couple of weeks ago, whether race had an impact on his administration, he sort of ducked the question. Would you have used that opportunity to further the Black Cause?
HMLF: Our brother, Barack Obama, has a commitment to us, but that commitment will only be as strong as we are in pressing the issues that ill-affect our community. The only way we can help him is to go to him with a comprehensive plan—a plan in which he could see the help that would come to him by our work in our own community to rebuild it.
There is a scripture in the Book of Isaiah that reads: “And they will rebuild the wasted cities.” Who is the “they”? And who [are the ones that] live in the wasted part of America's cities? It is we. And if we come up with the constructive plan; and put together some of the money that we throw away, and then get some of the stimulus money that we hope to bring back into our communities, we can rebuild—or help to rebuild—the wasted cities. … So brother, we have a lot of work to do. We can press the president, but I'll tell you: The best place to put the full press is on ourselves.
CK: [There is] also the situation with education. The Nation of Islam has this great school [Muhammad University of Islam], where the young people are well mannered, educated and articulate. How can we spread this sort of thing, because we have to save ourselves?
HMLF: What good is it if I have a house where there is no fire in it, but there's a fire next door, and the wind is blowing? If I don't help my neighbor to put the fire out on his house, soon mine is gone. What good does it do for me to send my children to a charter school, a good private school, or to the Muslim school, and leave the Chicago Public Schools in the condition that they are in? Our children have to interact with the children that are coming out of the public school system, so if our children are not powerful enough to change them, they are powerful enough to change our children.
It doesn't matter what's good at Muhammad University of Islam, or at the charter schools that are run by our great Brother Haki Madhubuti, and others. But we have got to affect the Public School System—not only of Chicago, but everywhere where our children are going to school. That is why we are talking about a comprehensive plan that puts in the public schools a curriculum that engages the children's minds, and raises them in consciousness.
Some people think that our children are stupid, or dumb, because they walked out of school—but they'll sit in front of a computer, which will capture their attention for hours on end! And these children are so fast with their hands! Why does the computer, and games, attract our children's minds? And what is being taught in the schools that they are rejecting? It is because what they are being taught has passed its time. It is of very little value. So how can you tell the children, “Stay in school and get an education” just so they can end up like you: Non-productive? With all the degrees that we have, we are the most non-productive people in America. We have Ph.D.s, Master degrees, Doctors of Law, Doctors of Divinity, but we produce nothing to satisfy the needs of our people. That is a sure condemnation of the way we have been taught.
If we were given the chance, I hope that we can advance to the public school system something that the Honorable Elijah Muhammad gave us that lifted us, and will in turn, lift all the children in the public schools. … Let us into the schools. Give us a chance, and we'll give you a product, whether you're Black, Brown, Red, Yellow or White; Muslim, Christian or Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist or Agnostic—we'll give you a product that we can be proud of.
CK: The media is getting worse and worse, as they dumb down the public. What can be done about media? The press has totally changed in the last 25 years.
HMLF: The media is corporate-owned, and corporate-controlled. It has a purpose to control the American population. And the media takes all of these polls to see how well their deceit and chicanery works. But thank God for the Internet; and, our ability to go beyond what the news media feeds us. We have other sources of gaining information.
Since you can get online, and literally, bring up practically all of the books that are in the Library of Congress, we have a vast ocean in front of us. If we learned how to access, and would access it, we really could come away with a tremendous bulwark against that which we are being taught.
CK: You have been going around speaking, and you are being invited everywhere. Is there something coming up, hopefully, that can really assist in changing some things here?
HMLF: The Nation of Islam is working with many on developing a comprehensive plan for areas in the city of Chicago that are plagued with violence. I would hope that we could see that our young people are really not the cause. They are the effect of a cause that they don't understand.
In coming to the end of our time on the show, I want to express my deep sense of personal gratitude to Cliff Kelley for being the type of host that he is on this show by feeding our community knowledge, and giving our community that which helps us to ward off the deceit and the chicanery that is being practiced. I thank God for WVON, and I thank God for the Cliff Kelley Show. I thank you, the listening audience, for listening to me.
CK: I am the one who is honored. We really appreciate you, and love you. There are so many things that we need to do. God's blessings, and thank you so much.