In the 1960s, it was common to hear Min. Malcolm X, as spokesman for the Hon. Elijah Muhammad, debate Black leaders Saturday mornings on radio station WLIB. Their focus was the media calling Nation of Islam teachings “hate.” Min. Malcolm X’s counter was the origin of Black people, scriptures and separation. Today, the charge against Muhammad’s representative, Min. Louis Farrakhan, is “anti-Semitism,” and Black leaders are pressured to “repudiate” and “denounce,” but not debate, him or his representatives. The common thread of the ’60s and today is the spectacle of Black leaders being pushed to speak against a grassroots leader.

In the ’60s, the pressure was withdrawal of financing from civil rights organizations. Today the pressure points are less obvious, including personal. At Harlem’s Muhammad Mosque No. 7, Min. Abdul Hafeez Muhammad emphasized the independence of the Nation of Islam while firmly rejecting charges against Farrakhan in the first of a series of lectures. He stated, “Of all the vile things said of Minister Farrakhan, they have never called him a liar. When Black leaders are called on to denounce Min. Farrakhan, your response should be ‘Let me hear what he said for myself. I will not do it at your beck and call.’”

Hafeez, who serves as the Nation of Islam’s East Coast regional representative, stressed that the time is over for Blacks being “willing puppets” and that no man can serve two masters. “Black leaders” he said, “have the option of either representing the voters, or admit to being ‘servants of others.’”

Three Congressional Black Caucus members have submitted to the pressures to denounce Farrakhan, based on his Saviours’ Day lecture in February. Similarly, a blistering assault is being waged against Tamika Mallory, the national co-chair of the Women’s March. The media attacks include New York’s Daily News publishing an anti-Mallory editorial Friday, March 9, headlined, “Coddling an Anti-Semite.” The leading Israeli paper, Haaretz, carried an opinion article targeting Mallory with the headline, “We in the U.S. Jewish Community Coddle Our Own Farrakhans, Too.” The Haaretz article highlights contradictions within the ranks arrayed against Mallory and Farrakhan.

“We salute Tamika Mallory for standing firm as a strong Black woman in the face of these attacks,” Hafeez said as the mosque audience responded with a standing ovation for Mallory. “She was present at Saviours’ Day. She had her head covered out of respect. She is not a member of the Nation of Islam. They want to make her an example just because she was present.”

Hafeez said that Farrakhan’s love of Black people has always caused him to hold back from speaking harshly of Black leaders and other detractors within the community. He explained that the recent release of a photo of Farrakhan together with Barak Obama was withheld by Farrakhan for more than eight years so that the enemies of Obama could not use it against his presidency.

Hafeez concluded by stating the charge of anti-Semitism is a “deception.” The tactic, he said, is to draw the public away from the truth of what Farrakhan is saying. “A tool of the liar is deception,” said Haffeez. “So you expose the deception by exposing the liar. The liar fights truth. This requires one who knows the truth also having the courage to tell the truth. And, most of all the willingness to face the opposition that results. Farrakhan is that person. The question is who will stand with him?”