Anyone familiar with Malcolm X’s speeches knows that he was simply brilliant.
His legacy attracts many global followers as well as resentful and envious detractors. Case on review: The Daily News’s Stanley Crouch. Even al-Qaeda knows more than Crouch when it comes to Malcolm’s pivotal role in Black Nationalism in the United States, judging by his recent envy-riddled vicious attack on Malcolm X.
In the November 24 column entitled “Where does Barack Obama stand on terrorism? X marks the spot,” Crouch notes the recent statement by al-Qaeda’s number two man, Ayman al-Zawahiri, denouncing President-elect Barack Obama and contrasting him unfavorably with Malcolm X.
Zawahiri refers to Malcolm as having been “honorable,” as opposed to Obama, Colin Powell, and Condoleezza Rice–he refers to the latter three as “house negros,” who had dishonored Malcolm’s memory and legacy.
Zawahiri’s obvious ploy is to gain global media attention, which he accomplishes; more critically, he wants to confuse the hundreds of millions of African Americans, Africans, Latinos, Asians, and progressive Whites, who embrace Obama, while still cherishing Malcolm’s legacy.
The al-Qaeda official shares something with Crouch; both are either ignorant about Malcolm’s evolution, or chose to ignore it.
The latter Malcolm, who returns from his Hajj to Mecca and adopts a much more global and inclusive perspective, shares much more in common with Obama then he does with the reactionary terrorist al-Qaeda organization, or the Nation Of Islam (NOI), which expelled him, and created the atmosphere leading to his murder. The latter Malcolm had concluded that Black Nationalists can form alliances with progressive non-racialist Whites to oppose discrimination and economic exploitation; this philosophy is diametrically opposed to the teachings of Zawahiri and his al-Qaeda cohorts.
Crouch’s vicious and virulent attack against Malcolm’s legacy is absurd and shows a level of envy that’s pathetic.
Crouch had the opportunity to tell the al-Qaeda leader that what separates Americans from Zawahiri and his compatriots is the capacity to evolve and regenerate.
Malcolm was a genuine American diamond of the highest polish, much in the same manner that Barack is today. Only in America, can a pimp, drug dealer and ex-con like Malcolm, educate himself while incarcerated and become so knowledgeable and respected that he is invited to speak at institutions such as Oxford University.
Malcolm learned more in prison than Crouch can ever grasp in universities and libraries; he had been endowed with a superior mind.
Similarly, Obama, abandoned by his father, wonders about his ethnic identity and even experiments with drugs in his youth; rather than slide down the hill to become another Black statistic, he seizes the moment, becomes a stellar student, community activist, professor, scholar, consummate communicator, family man, and now brilliant politician.
Where else in the world can such stories be written?
“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,” Crouch writes. “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,” Crouch gloats.
In fact, Malcolm X was a first-class civil rights leader and a human right advocate as well; he was one of the first Black leaders to appeal to the United Nations to take up the issue of racial injustices in the United States. Moreover, he knew that by warning the powers of the day about the possibility of violence as a result of pervasive racism, the establishment would embrace Dr. King, whose approach was much less confrontational and “reasonable” to the White establishment. Malcolm’s militancy cleared the way for Dr. King’s achievements, much as the presidential runs of Jesse Jackson, viewed as a radical, contributed towards Obama’s victory.
Moreover, no major racist barrier that has been overcome in this country can be disconnected from the historical sacrifices that began with the slave uprisings. Crouch’s ahistorical presentation is simply wishful thinking perhaps meant to sooth the unease of the “mainstream” America that foots his bills.
Malcolm never advocated violence in and of itself. He insisted that Black people had a right to defend themselves against attacks by racists, including by Southern Redneck sheriffs.
Nowhere, as Crouch purports, did Malcolm ever call for the “worldwide revolution against the Western power structure.” At the Oxford Union debate, he said, in reference to instances where the federal government had failed to protect Black citizens, that he believed in “any means necessary to bring about justice where the government can’t give them justice.” Yet, he also qualified this reasonable and sober statement with: “I don’t believe in any form of unjustified extremism.”
This is the mature Malcolm, who, through his learning, travels, and experiences, had attained a level of intellectual and spiritual transformation that Crouch will never attain in his lifetime.
Malcolm preached “self help philosophy,” and said racism precluded Blacks from accessing capital for launching business enterprises; that was the case in the 1960s and has only been slightly ameliorated today. Any community that does not control its economic resources or the means of production will always be dependent on others. That’s the central message of Malcolm’s lecture “The Ballot or The Bullet,” which Crouch, in his demented mind, twists to make it appear as if Malcolm is simply an advocate of violence for the sake of violence.
Crouch maligns Malcolm as 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.”
In fact, after his Middle East tour and encounter with Muslims of various nationalities Malcolm regretted having bitterly denounced Dr. King before his evolution. In “The Ballot or The Bullet,” Malcolm notes that even though Dr. King was a Christian Minister, whiles he was a Muslim Minister, they were united in their common struggle against racial injustices.
He said “my religious philosophy is personal between me and the God in whom I believe,” and that “And this is best this way. Were we to come out here discussing religion, we’d have too many differences from the out start and we could never get together.”
“If not for Spike Lee’s film about him, Malcolm X would have been forgotten,” Crouch rages in his column. “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.”
Malcolm had already gained enduring global recognition as a result of his autobiography narrated to Alex Haley; moreover, not every contribution towards the Black struggle can be quantified through “one important piece of legislation” or “important march.”
Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of young African American males have turned their lives around and abandoned thuggery and criminality, by emulating Malcolm’s transformation. I am not aware of a single life that has been redirected on the right course as a result of Crouch’s existence on this earth.
Crouch wonders, “Why would Zawahiri praise this dead horse of Black Nationalism as an ‘honorable black American.”
The answer is clear even to Zawahiri, from his cave hideout in the mountains of Afghanistan: As Ossie Davis said, Malcolm was a “prince; our Black shining prince.”