Some Myths About Malcolm X

  Minister Malcolm XBrother Malcolm X looms–on May 19, 2011, the 86th anniversary of his birth–as an icon, almost larger than life itself.

I admit, I never met Brother Malcolm. I never heard him speak in person. I do know however several people who knew him very well. I also know at least two highly respected writers, intellectuals, who told me that they had “intended” to go to the Audobon Ballroom in Harlem on Feb. 21, 1965 to hear Brother Malcolm reveal the platform of his new movement–the Organization of African American Unity (OAAU)–but they failed to attend. Brother Malcolm was assassinated that day with about 450 people in attendance.

Today, there are legions of admirers of this incredible leader, but there were only 450 with him at the Audobon Ballroom that tragic day.

Myth No. 1: “The Black Muslims Murdered Malcolm X.”

In their haste to defame the Nation of Islam and to justify the feud they fomented and fanned between Brother Malcolm and his teacher–the Honorable Elijah Muhammad–the New York Police Department (NYPD), the FBI, the NY District Attorney’s office and other secret government enemies of both Mr. Muhammad and Brother Malcolm, hastily arrested and convicted two innocent men of the murder.

Norman 3X Butler and Thomas 15X Johnson, who were members of NOI Mosque No. 25 in Newark, NJ, served more than 30 years in prison for a crime they did not commit. Practically all the scholarship on the assassination confirms their innocence.

Talmadge Hayer–also known by the name Thomas Hagan–is one of the convicted assassins. He was shot at the scene by Reuben X Francis, one of the chiefs of Brother Malcolm’s security, after Hayer shot the victim. Hayer eventually admitted his guilt and testified repeatedly that neither Butler nor Johnson were involved in the plot.

Francis on the other hand was indicted for shooting Hayer, jumped bail, was then re-arrested Feb. 15, 1966 almost a year later. On that same date “a spokesman for the FBI denied any knowledge of Francis,” according to The Militant, a weekly Socialist newspaper. Reuben never testified in the murder trial and his whereabouts are now unknown. No death certificate. No tax returns. He disappeared. Can you say “government witness protection program?”

On the day of the assassination, Francis reportedly re-assigned the guards who would have been in the front of the auditorium near the speaker–the victim–to the rear of the room.

Meanwhile: “Gene Roberts, (another) one of Malcolm’s chiefs of security, was an NYPD undercover cop. He later went on to bigger things by being a disruptive force inside of the Black Panther Party,” Dr. Manning Marable, author of a definitive, recently published new biography of Brother Malcolm told Amy Goodman, host of “Democracy Now!” in an interview Feb. 21, 2005.

So, we have two of the chiefs of Brother Malcolm’s security whose behavior should be suspect, receiving very little public scrutiny, while the bogus myth persists that The Black Muslims Murdered Malcolm X.

Myth No. 2: “By Any Means Necessary.”

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again and again: Niccolo Machiavelli was morally wrong when he wrote in feudal Italy in his famous 16th Century text The Prince: “The security of the state is more important than the morality of the means. In the actions of men…when there is no court of appeal, one judges by the result.”

French intellectual Jean Paul Sartre said it this way in his 1963 play Dirty Hands: “I was not the one to invent lies: they were created in a society divided by class and each of us inherited lies when we were born. It is not by refusing to lie that we will abolish lies: it is by eradicating class by any means necessary.” Sartre was wrong in my opinion. The ends do not justify the means.

And so it follows, Brother Malcolm was in error when he promised in 1965: “We declare our right on this earth to be a man, to be a human being, to be respected as a human being, to be given the rights of a human being in this society, on this earth, in this day, which we intend to bring into existence by any means necessary.” The ends do not justify the means.

Myth No. 3: The Plight of Blacks in America Could Be Improved by Going Before the United Nations.

The United Nations is a toothless tiger, a rubber stamp, which crumbles to do the will of the world’s foremost colonial powers–the United States, the United Kingdom (England) and France. Those imperialists constitute three of the UN’s five Security Council members.

In the Court of Fowls, the Cockroach never wins his case.

2 thoughts on “Some Myths About Malcolm X

  1. Dear Askia:
    By the time of Malcolm’s assassination, the Nation of Islam had devolved into a criminal organization, ruthless and corrupt to the core, led by a senile old man. It was Herbert Muhammad who once told his father, Elijah (the father of at least nine children by six teenage secretaries) that he should run the NOI “like Papa Doc ran Haiti.” And he did.
    There is no doubt that the authorities stepped aside to allow Malcolm’s murder to proceed unimpeded, just as there is no doubt that the NOI was actively involved in SEVERAL attempts to kill Malcolm in several cities across the country. These attempts could not have been carried out without the direction and approval of the top leadership, period.
    That members of the infamous Newark mosque were involved in the assassination is not surprising to anyone.
    Whatever unfortunate incarnation of the NOI that exists today must take responsibility for actively participating in Malcolm’s assassination, if they hope to hold on to whatever minute scintilla of credibility they have left.
    The NOI’s leadership always lived by the motto, “By Any Means Necessary,” although it was never in the pursuit of justice or equality. It usually meant in enforcing “discipline” within the movement, or a host of unethical and immoral schemes aimed at emptying the pockets of its followers.
    “Myth No. 3″ deserves much more discussion and would involve a look at the UN in its earlier context. In ’64-’65, the UN was viewed far differently than it was now. But the organization did play a major role in the end of colonialism and apartheid on the African continent, although the wheels of justice, international justice, turn very slowly. Charging the US with racism in the United Nations may, or may not, have speeded the end of official racial discrimination in the United States. Certainly, Malcolm should be given credit for attempting something no one else wanted to do, namely, elevating Civil Rights to the more universal Human Rights.

  2. Sunni Khalid,

    It is deeply regrettable that those who would “uphold” Brother Malcolm today feel that the way to do that is by dragging down the Honorable Elijah Muhammad using ugly insulting language such as yours. The Honorable Elijah Muhammad was hardly senile. When I met him 8 years after Brother Malcolm’s assassination, he was lucid and alert, and was clearly then as he had always been, a moral and upright man of high principles and great integrity! Let me assure you, further defamations and personal insults against Mr. Muhammad will not be tolerated in this forum!

    Mr. Muhammad’s instructions to his followers concerning Brother Malcolm’s defection were clear: “Leave him to Allah.” Mr. Muhammad never gave instructions, or approved orders for Brother Malcolm to be harmed. That there were those within the ranks of the Nation who might have taken it upon themselves to punish Brother Malcolm for what they considered to be his betrayal of them personally and that message from Mr. Muhammad which he once taught, is undeniable. The fact that such individuals could not be controlled should come as no surprise. There were bank robbers and murderers within the ranks up until the time Mr. Muhammad departed. Indeed, many of the converts to the Nation came not from the academies or the universities, rather they came from the Street Life and from the School of Hard Knocks.

    What amazes me is that persons such as yourself, ignore the clear facts that Brother Malcolm’s movement was riddled with snitches and provocateurs, even at the highest level of his security apparatus! You are so consumed with condemning the Nation for its role, that you completely overlook his betrayal by those who were supposedly “close” to him and how that betrayal had more to do with the success of his murder than the little thuggery by those in the NOI who took it upon themselves to try to “off” him. Wake up Brothers and Sisters. Smell the coffee. The enemy of Brother Malcolm was the same enemy of the NOI. That enemy was able to “kill two birds with one stone.” They murdered Malcolm X, their tormentor, and blamed the Nation of Islam their nemesis, with their crime!

    I would also challenge your characterization of “whatever unfortunate incarnation of the NOI exists today…” Indeed, the NOI today is a blessing and a mercy in our midst! Under the leadership of Minister Louis Farrakhan the NOI has corrected many of the “any means necessary” excesses that were present among the membership during the 1960s. The NOI today is a powerful spiritual movement which continues to reform so-called Negroes with the practice of prayer, and charity, and fasting, and study! Indeed, under the leadership of Minister Farrakhan, Black men mobilized their greatest one-day event in the 20th Century–The Million Man March–where more than two million Black men came to Washington on a work day, where not one single crime was committed in the place disparagingly mocked as the “Murder Capital of America!”

    Such a legacy as this, represents not a “scintilla” of credibility, but an aggregate of enormous respect and esteem in which the Nation of Islam is held throughout the world today. Nelson Mandela, Fidel Castro, you point to a respected international revolutionary figure alive today and I will document their admiration of Minister Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam. Your venom poured on the NOI is simply personal animus, and is is not sufficient in the face of the facts, no matter how passionately you espoouse your critique, to disparage the truth about the Honorable Elijah Muhammad or the Nation of Islam!

    I would invite you and all open-minded persons who read this, to watch at least two videos, now on YouTube, in which the women who were wives of The Honorable Elijah Muhammad explain how they were approached, and what they understood they were doing when they bore children, fathered by Mr. Muhammad.

    The Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s Family Speaks Part 1

    The Honorable Elijah Muhammad’s Family Speaks Part 2

    When I met Mr. Muhammad in 1973, these members of his family dined with him almost every day. I met several of them at his dinner table, and they and their now adult children have grown to be leaders in the NOI under Minister Farrakhan. What a great gift these brave women gave to our people with their sacrifice.

    There is much more which could be said, and I am available to discuss this subject, and an important view which gets little mention in this conversation. Does anyone who thinks that Brother Malcolm is responsible for the Nation rather than the Nation being responsible for Brother Malcolm (which he himself said repeatedly for 12 years, and even often in the year after he left the NOI), does anyone think that Brother Malcolm made the Nation believe that Muhammad Ali made the Nation? Or did the Nation make Muhammad Ali the most popular “athlete” in the world? I know there are many who will never relent, but we are reminded that History is best qualified to reward our research, and History will bear witness that The Honorable Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam, are indeed: The Stone that the Builders rejected, that will become the Headstone of the Corner!

    Salaam (Peace),

    Askia Muhammad,
    Washington, DC
    May 19, 2011

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