Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Facebook boots Farrakhan, but who does he harm? Himself, mostly

Florence Baptistery ceiling

     Honestly? I was sorry that Facebook banned Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan from its global social media platform for his steady patter of anti-Semitic nonsense, which is old as the hills, common as dirt, and lodged, in larger or smaller shards, in the hearts of half the people in the world. Maybe more.
     Not that his twisted worldview isn't harmful. It is. The harm is real. But like most bigotry, like most self-administered poison, it is destructive primarily to the possessor; the career of Farrakhan is ample proof.
     He yearned to shine on a larger stage, to be taken seriously and touch the hearts of millions, and came close at times. But like any addict, either because he was feeling too good or too bad, he celebrated his successes and mourned his setbacks with another heady hit of hatred while good people, revolted, looked away.
     Generally. Some folks like junkies. Find them thrilling, romantic, fun. While Farrakhan's flock of die-hard faithful is small, he is largely tolerated, certainly not denounced, among a larger group of supposedly-decent observers because raging against whites in general and Jews in particular provides them with a low-rent naughty pleasure, a kind of catharsis. They never pause to realize they are doing the exact same thing — diminishing the humanity of a group they don't know based on laughable fiction — that they find so offensive when directed toward themselves. It's not a unique shame — all humans are prone to this, alas — but nothing to be proud of, either.
     When I worked at the Wheaton Daily Journal, a third of a century ago, conservative Christians in that town engaged in a strategy I called "wallpapering the world." They would seek out what they objected to and try to cover it up so they didn't have to look at it, whether Playboys tucked behind the counter at the local 7-Eleven or the College of DuPage performing "Sister Mary Ignatius Explains it All for You."

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  1. Neil you imagine that mr. Farrakhan would not treat you well in person? why? Because you are Jewish? White? A reporter writing a negative piece ? I am acquainted with the reverend and know otherwise. His public persona differs from the man you see on camera. I know this can often be the case with people in the public eye.
    I believe the reasons behind his rhetoric and vitriol have a root and purpose different from what you suggest. he represents a segment of a group historically down trodden and voiceless. some of what he says is based in fact and can not be completely discounted because his anger leads him to lash out at the wealthy and powerful in ways many find abhorrent . His followers are righteous people striving to improve their station. His organization succeeds in this effort. He speaks to their circumstance and for their benefit.
    Your objections to his methods are understandable. but you sir are not a moderate, and while you say you believe everyone should be afforded the opportunity to speak, you demonstrate much like FB, otherwise.
    You prefer to only hear the opinions of those with whom you agree and will block people who see things differently from you .
    I don't agree with many things he says but I listen and i try to understand in an historical context the part I play in shaping his views and strive to make amends. We all should. At the very least stop contributing to the plight of our African American brethren.

    1. Nothing in the above suggests I imagine Farrakhan would not "treat me well in person." I'm sure he'd be polite, even ingratiating. The man, after all, had dinner with Irv Kupcinet, once upon a time. Rather your remarks are your typical raising of a false issue and then knocking it down, which is one reason I tend not to post your remarks. You are not blocked, it's just that being relentlessly negative, mistaken and insulting, I see no reason to disseminate what you consider valuable insights. They're not. I don't encourage trolls here, and if you feel ill-used, you are invited to go away.

  2. Well said, especially about that crook Braun. It's shocking to see some of the scary, right wing fodder on social media and makes me wonder if a Dem. can ever get in as President again.

  3. Even when Facebook policy was completely laissez faire, right wingers were whimpering that they were being discriminated against, a self proving falsehood, given that it was promulgated on Facebook. Now they have a genuine beef, however unlikely an alliance with Farrakhan may seem. Facebook put itself in a lose/lose position.


  4. Facebook can't win. I don't see how they can ban Jones and other right wing nuts and give Farrakhan a pass.

    I'm inclined to agree that sensible people discount his "steady patter of anti-Semitic nonsense." But then I'm not Jewish. Might feel differently if he launched an attack on the the Welsh conspiracy to rule the world.



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