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Chapter 19 I Must Be Honest

 Negroes-Afro-Americans-showed no inclination to rush to the United Nations anddemand justice for themselves here in America. I really had known in advance that they wouldn't. TheAmerican white man has so thoroughly brainwashed the black man to see himself as only a domestic"civil rights" problem that it will probably take longer than I live before the Negro sees that thestruggle of the American black man is international.

  And I had known, too, that Negroes would not rush to follow me into the orthodox Islam which hadgiven me the insight and perspective to see that the black men and white men truly could be brothers.

  America's Negroes-especially older Negroes-are too indelibly soaked in Christianity's double standardof oppression.

  So, in the "public invited" meetings which I began holding each Sunday afternoon or evening inHarlem's well-known Audubon Ballroom, as I addressed predominantly non-Muslim Negroaudiences, I did not immediately attempt to press the Islamic religion, but instead to embrace all whosat before me:

  "-not Muslim, nor Christian, Catholic, nor Protestant . . . Baptist nor Methodist, Democrat norRepublican, Mason nor Elk! I mean the black people of America-and the black people all over thisearth! Because it is as this collective mass of black people that we have been deprived not only of ourcivil rights, but even of our human rights, the right to human dignity. . . ."On the streets, after my speeches, in the faces and the voices of the people I met-even those whowould pump my hands and want my autograph-I would feel the wait-and-see attitude. I would feel-and I understood-their uncertainty about where I stood. Since the Civil War's "freedom," the blackman has gone down so many fruitless paths. His leaders, very largely, had failed him. The religion ofChristianity had failed him. The black man was scarred, he was cautious, he was apprehensive.

  I understood it better now than I had before. In the Holy World, away from America's race problem,was the first time I ever had been able to think clearly about the basic divisions of white people inAmerica, and how their attitudes and their motives related to, and affected Negroes. In my thirty-nineyears on this earth, the Holy City of Mecca had been the first time I had ever stood before the Creatorof All and felt like a complete human being.

  In that peace of the Holy World-in fact, the very night I have mentioned when I lay awake surroundedby snoring brother pilgrims-my mind took me back to personal memories I would have thought weregone forever . . . as far back, even, as when I was just a little boy, eight or nine years old. Out behindour house, out in the country from Lansing, Michigan, there was an old, grassy "Hector's Hill," wecalled it-which may still be there. I remembered there in the Holy World how I used to lie on the topof Hector's Hill, and look up at the sky, at the clouds moving over me, and daydream, all kinds ofthings. And then, in a funny contrast of recollections, I remembered how years later, when I was inprison, I used to lie on my cell bunk-this would be especially when I was in solitary: what we convicts called "The Hole"-and I would picture myself talking to large crowds. I don't have any idea why suchprevisions came to me. But they did. To tell that to anyone then would have sounded crazy. Even Ididn't have, myself, the slightest inkling. . . .

  In Mecca, too, I had played back for myself the twelve years I had spent with Elijah Muhammad as if itwere a motion picture. I guess it would be impossible for anyone ever to realize fully how completewas my belief in Elijah Muhammad. I believed in him not only as a leader in the ordinary _human_sense, but also I believed in him as a _divine_ leader. I believed he had no human weaknesses orfaults, and that, therefore, he could make no mistakes and that he could do no wrong. There on a HolyWorld hilltop, I realized how very dangerous it is for people to hold any human being in such esteem,especially to consider anyone some sort of "divinely guided" and "protected" person.

  My thinking had been opened up wide in Mecca. In the long letters I wrote to friends, I tried to conveyto them my new insights into the American black man's struggle and his problems, as well as thedepths of my search for truth and justice.

  "I've had enough of someone else's propaganda," I had written to these friends. "I'm for truth, nomatter who tells it. I'm for justice, no matter who it is for or against. I'm a human being first andforemost, and as such I'm for whoever and whatever benefits humanity _as a whole_."Largely, the American white man's press refused to convey that I was now attempting to teachNegroes a new direction. With the 1964 "long, hot summer" steadily producing new incidents, I wasconstantly accused of "stirring up Negroes." Every time I had another radio or television microphoneat my mouth, when I was asked about "stirring up Negroes" or "inciting violence," I'd get hot.

  "It takes no one to stir up the sociological dynamite that stems from the unemployment, bad housing,and inferior education already in the ghettoes. This explosively criminal condition has existed for solong, it needs no fuse; it fuses itself; it spontaneously combusts from within itself. . . ."They called me "the angriest Negro in America." I wouldn't deny that charge. I spoke exactly as I felt.

  "I _believe_ in anger. The Bible says there is a _time_ for anger." They called me "a teacher, a fomenterof violence." I would say point blank,' That is a lie. I'm not for wanton violence, I'm for justice. I feelthat if white people were attacked by Negroes-if the forces of law prove unable, or inadequate, orreluctant to protect those whites from those Negroes-then those white people should protect anddefend themselves from those Negroes, using arms if necessary. And I feel that when the law fails toprotect Negroes from whites' attack, then those Negroes should use arms, if necessary, to defendthemselves.""Malcolm X Advocates Armed Negroes!"What was wrong with that? I'll tell you what was wrong. I was a black man talking about physicaldefense against the white man. The white man can lynch and burn and bomb and beat Negroes-that's all right: "Have patience" . . ."The customs are entrenched" . . ."Things are gettingbetter."Well, I believe it's a crime for anyone who is being brutalized to continue to accept that brutalitywithout doing something to defend himself. If that's how "Christian" philosophy is interpreted, ifthat's what Gandhian philosophy teaches, well, then, I will call them criminal philosophies.

  I tried in every speech I made to clarify my new position regarding white people-"I don't speak againstthe sincere, well-meaning, good white people. I have learned that there _are_ some. I have learned thatnot all white people are racists. I am speaking against and my fight is against the white _racists_. Ifirmly believe that Negroes have the right to fight against these racists, by any means that arenecessary."But the white reporters kept wanting me linked with that word "violence." I doubt if I had oneinterview without having to deal with that accusation.

  "I _am_ for violence if non-violence means we continue postponing a solution to the American blackman's problem-just to _avoid_ violence. I don't go for non-violence if it also means a delayed solution.

  To me a delayed solution is a non-solution. Or I'll say it another way. If it must take violence to get theblack man his human rights in this country, I'm _for_ violence exactly as you know the Irish, the Poles,or Jews would be if they were flagrantly discriminated against. I am just as they would be in that case,and they would be for violence-no matter what the consequences, no matter who was hurt by theviolence."White society _hates_ to hear anybody, especially a black man, talk about the crime the white man hasperpetrated on the black man. I have always understood that's why I have been so frequently called "arevolutionist." It sounds as if _I_ have done some crime! Well, it may be the American black man doesneed to become involved in a _real_ revolution. The word for "revolution" in German is_Umwalzung_. What it means is a complete overturn-a complete change. The overthrow of KingFarouk in Egypt and the succession of President Nasser is an example of a true revolution. It meansthe destroying of an old system, and its replacement with a new system. Another example is theAlgerian revolution, led by Ben Bella; they threw out the French who had been there over 100 years.

  So how does anybody sound talking about the Negro in America waging some "revolution"? Yes, he iscondemning a system-but he's not trying to overturn the system, or to destroy it. The Negro's so-called"revolt" is merely an asking to be _accepted_ into the existing system! A _true_ Negro revolt mightentail, for instance, fighting for separate black states within this country-which several groups andindividuals have advocated, long before Elijah Muhammad came along.

  When the white man came into this country, he certainly wasn't demonstrating any "non-violence." Infact, the very man whose name symbolizes non-violence here today has stated:

  "Our nation was born in genocide when it embraced the doctrine that the original American, theIndian, was an inferior race. Even before there were large numbers of Negroes on our shores, the scar of racial hatred had already disfigured colonial society. From the sixteenth century forward, bloodflowed in battles over racial supremacy. We are perhaps the only nation which tried as a matter ofnational policy to wipe out its indigenous population. Moreover, we elevated that tragic experienceinto a noble crusade. Indeed, even today we have not permitted ourselves to reject or to feel remorsefor this shameful episode. Our literature, our films, our drama, our folklore all exalt it. Our childrenare still taught to respect the violence which reduced a red-skinned people of an earlier culture into afew fragmented groups herded into impoverished reservations.""Peaceful coexistence!" That's another one the white man has always been quick to cry. Fine! But whathave been the deeds of the white man? During his entire advance through history, he has been wavingthe banner of Christianity . . . and carrying in his other hand the sword and the flintlock.

  You can go right back to the very beginning of Christianity. Catholicism, the genesis of Christianity aswe know it to be presently constituted, with its hierarchy, was conceived in Africa-by those whom theChristian church calls "The Desert Fathers." The Christian church became infected with racism when itentered white Europe. The Christian church returned to Africa under the banner of the Cross-conquering, killing, exploiting, pillaging, raping, bullying, beating-and teaching white supremacy.

  This is how the white man thrust himself into the position of leadership of the world-through the useof naked physical power. And he was totally inadequate spiritually. Mankind's history has provedfrom one era to another that the true criterion of leadership is spiritual. Men are attracted by spirit. Bypower, men are _forced_. Love is engendered by spirit. By power, anxieties are created.

  I am in agreement one hundred per cent with those racists who say that no government laws ever cam_force_ brotherhood. The only true world solution today is governments guided by true religion-of thespirit. Here in race-torn America, I am convinced that the Islam religion is desperately needed,particularly by the American black man. The black man needs to reflect that he has been America'smost fervent Christian-and where has it gotten him? In fact, in the white man's hands, in the whiteman's interpretation . . . where has Christianity brought this _world_?

  It has brought the non-white two-thirds of the human population to rebellion. Two-thirds of thehuman population today is telling the one-third minority white man, "Get out!" And the white man isleaving. And as he leaves, we see the non-white peoples returning in a rush to their original religions,which had been labeled "pagan" by the conquering white man. Only one religion-Islam-had the powerto stand and fight the white man's Christianity for a _thousand years_! Only Islam could keep whiteChristianity at bay.

  The Africans are returning to Islam and other indigenous religions. The Asians are returning to beingHindus, Buddhists and Muslims.

  As the Christian Crusade once went East, now the Islamic Crusade is going West. With the East-Asiaclosed to Christianity, with Africa rapidly being converted to Islam, with Europe rapidly becomingun-Christian, generally today it is accepted that the "Christian" civilization of America-which ispropping up the white race around the world-is Christianity's remaining strongest bastion.

   Well, if _this_ is so-if the so-called "Christianity" now being practiced in America displays the best thatworld Christianity has left to offer-no one in his right mind should need any much greater proof thatvery close at hand is the _end_ of Christianity.

  Are you aware that some Protestant theologians, in their writings, are using the phrase "post-Christianera"-and they mean _now_?

  And what is the greatest single reason for this Christian church's failure? It is its failure to combatracism. It is the old "You sow, you reap" story. The Christian church sowed racism-blasphemously;now it reaps racism.

  Sunday mornings in this year of grace 1965, imagine the "Christian conscience" of congregationsguarded by deacons barring the door to black would-be worshipers, telling them "You can't enter_this_ House of God!"Tell me, if you can, a sadder irony than that St. Augustine, Florida-a city named for the black Africansaint who saved Catholicism from heresy-was recently the scene of bloody race riots.

  I believe that God now is giving the world's so-called "Christian" white society its last opportunity torepent and atone for the crimes of exploiting and enslaving the world's non-white peoples. It is exactlyas when God gave Pharaoh a chance to repent. But Pharaoh persisted in his refusal to give justice tothose whom he oppressed. And, we know, God finally destroyed Pharaoh.

  Is white America really sorry for her crimes against the black people? Does white America have thecapacity to repent-and to atone? Does the capacity to repent, to atone, exist in a majority, in one-half,in even one-third of American white society?

  Many black men, the victims-hi fact most black men-would like to be able to forgive, to forget, thecrimes.

  But most American white people seem not to have it in them to make any serious atonement-to dojustice to the black man.

  Indeed, how _can_ white society atone for enslaving, for raping, for unmanning, for otherwisebrutalizing _millions_ of human beings, for centuries? What atonement would the God of Justicedemand for the robbery of the black people's labor, their lives, their true identities, their culture, theirhistory-and even their human dignity?

  A desegregated cup of coffee, a theater, public toilets-the whole range of hypocritical "integration"these are not atonement.

  After a while in America, I returned abroad-and this time, I spent eighteen weeks in the Middle East and Africa.

  The world leaders with whom I had private audiences this time included President Gamal AbdelNasser, of Egypt; President Julius K. Nyerere, of Tanzania; President Nnamoi Aziki-we, of Nigeria;Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, of Ghana; President Sekou Toure, of Guinea; President JomoKenyatta, of Kenya; and Prime Minister Dr. Milton Obote, of Uganda.

  I also met with religious leaders-African, Arab, Asian, Muslim, and non-Muslim. And in all of thesecountries, I talked with Afro-Americans and whites of many professions and backgrounds.

  An American white ambassador in one African country was Africa's most respected Americanambassador: I'm glad to say that this was told to me by one ranking African leader. We talked for anentire afternoon. Based on what I had heard of him, I had to believe him when he told me that as longas he was on the African continent, he never thought in terms of race, that he dealt with humanbeings, never noticing their color. He said he was more aware of language differences than of colordifferences. He said that only when he returned to America would he become aware of colordifferences.

  I told him, "What you are telling me is that it isn't the American white _man_ who is a racist, but it'sthe American political, economic, and social _atmosphere_ that automatically nourishes a racistpsychology in the white man." He agreed.

  We both agreed that American society makes it next to impossible for humans to meet in America andnot be conscious of their color differences. And we both agreed that if racism could be removed,America could offer a society where rich and poor could truly live like human beings.

  That discussion with the ambassador gave me a new insight-one which I like: that the white man is_not_ inherently evil, but America's racist society influences him to act evilly. The society hasproduced and nourishes a psychology which brings out the lowest, most base part of human beings.

  I had a totally different kind of talk with another white man I met in Africa-who, to me, personifiedexactly what the ambassador and I had discussed. Throughout my trip, I was of course aware that Iwas under constant surveillance. The agent was a particularly obvious and obnoxious one; I am notsure for what agency, as he never identified it, or I would say it. Anyway, this one finally got undermy skin when I found I couldn't seem to eat a meal in the hotel without seeing him somewherearound watching me. You would have thought I was John Dil-linger or somebody.

  I just got up from my breakfast one morning and walked over to where he was and I told him I knewhe was following me, and if he wanted to know anything, why didn't he ask me. He started to give meone of those too-lofty-to-descend-to-you attitudes. I told him then right to his face he was a fool, thathe didn't know me, or what I stood for, so that made him one of those people who let somebody elsedo their thinking; and that no matter what job a man had, at least he ought to be able to think forhimself. That stung him; he let me have it.

   I was, to hear him tell it, anti-American, un-American, seditious, subversive, and probablyCommunist. I told him that what he said only proved how little he understood about me. I told himthat the only thing the F.B.I. the C.I.A., or anybody else could ever find me guilty of, was being open-minded. I said I was seeking for the truth, and I was trying to weigh-objectively-everything on its ownmerit. I said what I was against was strait-jacketed thinking, and strait-jacketed societies. I said Irespected every man's right to believe whatever his intelligence tells him is intellectually sound, and Iexpect everyone else to respect my right to believe likewise.

  This super-sleuth then got off on my "Black Muslim" religious beliefs. I asked him hadn't hisheadquarters bothered to brief him-that my attitudes and beliefs were changed? I told him that theIslam I believed in now was the Islam which was taught in Mecca-that there was no God but Allah,and that Muhammad ibn Abdullah who lived in the Holy City of Mecca fourteen hundred years agowas the Last Messenger of Allah.

  Almost from the first I had been guessing about something; and I took a chance-and I really shook upthat "super-sleuth." From the consistent subjectivity in just about everything he asked and said, I haddeduced something, and I told him, "You know, I think you're a Jew with an Anglicized name." Hisinvoluntary expression told me I'd hit the button. He asked me how I knew. I told him I'd had somuch experience with how Jews would attack me that I usually could identify them. I told him all Iheld against the Jew was that so many Jews actually were hypocrites in their claim to be friends of theAmerican black man, and it burned me up to be so often called "anti-Semitic" when I spoke things Iknew to be the absolute truth about Jews. I told him that, yes, I gave the Jew credit for being among allother whites the most active, and the most vocal, financier, "leader" and "liberal" in the Negro civilrights movement. But I said at the same time I knew that the Jew played these roles for a very carefulstrategic reason: the more prejudice in America could be focused upon the Negro, then the more thewhite Gentiles' prejudice would keep diverted off the Jew. I said that to me, one proof that all the civilrights posturing of so many Jews wasn't sincere was that so often in the North the quickestsegregationists were Jews themselves. Look at practically everything the black man is trying to"integrate" into for instance; if Jews are not the actual owners, or are not in controlling positions, thenthey have major stockholdings or they are otherwise in powerful leverage positions-and do they reallysincerely exert these influences? No!

  And an even clearer proof for me of how Jews truly regard Negroes, I said, was what invariablyhappened wherever a Negro moved into any white residential neighborhood that was thickly Jewish.

  Who would always lead the whites' exodus? T............

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