BY APRIL D. RYAN
AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS | LAST UPDATED: DEC 27, 2008 – 3:53:00 PM
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan’s exclusive interview with American Urban Radio Networks
[Editor’s note: On December 10, 2008, Minister Farrakhan granted an exclusive interview to April D. Ryan, of American Urban Radio Networks, at the National House in Chicago, Illinois to offer his perspective about current events on a local, national and international scope. The following article contains excerpts of this interview.]
April D. Ryan (AR): We are in some very interesting times. We see your neighbor, literally three blocks away—the president-elect Barack Obama. What say you right now as this nation is faced with two wars post 9/11; and dealing with an economic crisis that we haven’t seen in decades?
The Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan (HMLF): First, I’m very happy to be the neighbor of the president-elect. We are overjoyed by his tremendous victory. We are thankful to God because that which most of us thought we would never see in our lifetime, He has blessed us to live to see. Barack Obama has shown by his scholarship and his brilliance; along with the team that helped him to win the election, and the team that he is forming as his government, that he has inspired at least 80 percent of the American people with the audacity of hope that he can make a difference.
At the same time that he is our president-elect, the country—from our spiritual vantage point—is under Divine chastisement; judgment. We see it in the weather, in the tremendous storms that are touching this country from the East Coast to the West Coast; to the north and south. We see it in drought. We see it in the destruction of the farmland, and in the greed of corporate America: The inordinate self-interest of people where the nation is not first, but their bottom line is first, so they will close factories and take jobs outside of the country, leaving the American people in the lurch.
Mr. Obama comes to power at a very difficult time; and as you said, this is the worst economic time in decades. The president-elect has said that it will get worse before it gets better, so the social deterioration can result in extreme poverty and joblessness, the increase of lawlessness, and the tendency toward anarchy.
The stimulus package that brother President-elect Barack Obama is working on can help the American people for a time. America is already trillions of dollars in debt, an extraordinary burden that will be on the American people to pay back. The stimulus package that Mr. Obama is proposing that will put the American people back to work and strengthen the infrastructure, the schools and developing a green economy—this is going to be over $1 trillion, so this young man has a tremendous burden on his shoulders, and we must not allow him to shoulder this burden alone. It becomes the duty of everyone who has benefited from living in America to help that brother to help America, if he can, out of the condition that she is in.
AR: Minister Farrakhan, you touched on so many topics in your answer. You touched on the global climate change. You touched on the issue of the stimulus package. You talked about corruption in government. Let’s talk about corruption in government.
We just saw the arrest of the Illinois governor [Rod Blagojevich]; and Barack Obama has called for him to step down. What say you on this? Also, do you feel that the legislature should be able to strip him of his power and [institute a special election for the vacant Senate seat]? Who do you think should be elected to that seat?
HMLF: I think the process can be put in place either to strip the governor of his power, wherein the state legislature may create a law that disallows the governor to choose the next person who will sit in President-elect Obama’s former seat as senator from Illinois. How the government will deal with Gov. Blagojevich is a process that has begun with his arrest. In this country a man is innocent until proved guilty. The U.S. attorney that charged him with all of these things has yet to indict him. There has been talk about what the governor said in their taping of him and what not—let that play out. The citizens of Illinois need a senator.
Corruption is a problem not only in the state of Illinois, but in America and in the world as a whole. President-elect Barack Obama said he will always tell the American people the truth. If he fulfills that promise, what a great president he will be.
We have children that love this country, who, deprived of other avenues of demonstrating their talents and gifts, have joined the armed forces of the Unites States of America. Our children love their country, and they trust their leaders to tell them the truth. On the basis of lies, this country was brought to war with Iraq. Not too long ago, a magazine article highlighted all the lies that were told by President George W. Bush, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, and former Secretary of State General Colin Powell to get us into this mess. Look at the horror of the parents who lost their children, or whose children are coming back from this theatre of war: Destroyed—their limbs gone; mentally, a wreck. Their own government is not looking after them as the government should. Barack Obama says he has put somebody in that will look after these soldiers, these sailors, these marines.
The greatest thing Mr. Obama can do is never to misuse the patriotic zeal of America’s children who are willing to die to keep America great and free.
AR: You spoke of President Bush and lies. President Bush leaves in less than two months, and he seems to be very melancholy these days. I’m at the White House, and I watch him. He’s very tearful when he talks to the troops, and he gets very emotional. What are your thoughts about this president, his presidency? And, what he has done to or for America?
HMLF: When President Bush, in 2001, walked in the inaugural parade before he took his vow on the Bible to uphold the Constitution, people were saying not “Hail to the Chief”—they were saying “Hail to the Thief,” because many American people thought that his election to the presidency was a coup de grae, which robbed presidential candidate Al Gore of the presidency. So, the country was divided over the “gift of the presidency” by the Supreme Court to George W. Bush.
After September the 11th, the country united behind this president. At that point, he had the greatest opportunity to become a great, great president, and leave a great legacy. Unfortunately, he squandered that love by following a Neo-Conservative agenda. And instead of just going to Afghanistan, where they said the problem was, it was an excuse to invade Iraq. From that point on, I wrote President Bush a letter before he went to war, and I advised him of what his legacy could be if he made the right choice. And I advised him of what his legacy would be if he didn’t. In a second letter, I said to him that every body that comes back from that theatre of war, the blame would be laid at his doorstep.
So when you tell me of his melancholy spirit, I understand, because now he has the lowest approval rating of practically any president in our history. And a sadness should come over him when he talks to the troops, because those men and women stand ready to give their lives for their country. The best that we should do is not adopt policies that are wicked at their root that put our children in harm’s way.
I think as he goes out of office, history will judge him and assign him his place in history, but I think George W. Bush started this country on a speedy decline in terms of the domestic condition of the country, and the way the world began to look at America because of him and his policies.
AR: Once the war started, it seemed to be “Christianity” versus “Muslim” and “Islamic faith.” What is your thought as to why this country and the world are so hypersensitive when it comes to Islam; when it comes to the Muslim faith? We heard it with the woman who was at the McCain rally, [referring to Democratic nominee Barack Obama]: “He’s an Arab.” And then you heard Colin Powell come out saying, “So what if he [referring to Obama] were a Muslim? This is the great American melting pot where all are welcome.” What is the hypersensitivity?
HMLF: The hypersensitivity is the fear in those who misunderstand Islam. We, as Muslims, believe as all the prophets, in submitting our will to do God’s Will. God’s desire for us is righteous conduct and justice. Whether you do justice and righteousness from a Jewish perspective, a Christian perspective, a Buddhist or an Islamic perspective, there is no wise man, sage, messenger or prophet that taught anything other than righteous conduct in our social relationships. It’s not “Christianity against Islam.” It is injustice and wickedness against that which is right, and that which is good for the masses of the people.
If you look at American society right now, something is wrong here. You have the greatest nation on Earth, but there is more insanity here than anywhere; more depression here than anywhere; more people incarcerated here than anywhere; more murder, more robbery, more rape. Something is wrong with that picture from the moral perspective of God and His prophets—Jesus included. So now, we have a society that is decadent.
In the midst of that society, there are Christians who want to follow Jesus Christ. Not just talk about him or wear a cross, but to live a Christ-like life. There are Jews who don’t necessarily want to just wear the Star of David. They want to live the Law that God gave to the Jewish people through Moses and the Israelite prophets. There are Muslims living here who don’t bother anyone. They have their mosques; they make their contribution to this great society. They are not terrorists, but, they are perceived as this, and the anti-Muslim propaganda that is promoted by corporate-controlled newspapers and media have targeted Muslims in this war that has started since 9/11, and before.
So, I don’t believe it is “Christians vs. Muslims.” It is those who say they are “Christians,” and are not. It is those who say they are “Jews,” and are not. It is those who say they are “Muslims,” and are not. It’s not the label that makes you what you are. Jesus said, “As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.”
And what is our thought process? Are we thinking rightly? Are we thinking sanely? Are we thinking in the best interest of the society in which we live? This is what will make us, beyond these labels, brothers—fellow companions—to make America better than what America is. And that’s the hope that I think Barack Obama brings to the presidency of the United States.
AR: The Supreme Court rejected for the second time this citizenship issue [of President-elect Barack Obama]. And it’s because the base is that his father was a Kenyan; Muslim. Why do you think this even had to go to the U.S. Supreme Court? They’re trying to make sure his citizenship was validated; that he was allowed to be president. Why do you think it even went that far, to be rejected twice?
HMLF: There are some that don’t consider him as a “real American.” And what do they mean? What’s the code language sitting up under a “real American”?
Many Black people in this country are plagued with the behavior of a society that says in one breath that we are citizens, but then shows us by the way we are treated: “Maybe we don’t respect you as that.” I read that the night Mr. Obama was declared president-elect of the United States of America, a man from Germany stated, “White civilization has ended. The White world is finished.” What makes it finished? Because a Black man has become president of the United States of America? That’s very sick. And there are those who don’t want to see this young man get to the 20th of January.
Mr. Obama only lives a few blocks from me, but look at the level of security that is around him. Plumb the many serious threats on this young man’s life and the life of his family—because 57 million people voted against him. In that number, there are those who are rabid racists; who would think it is a great privilege to stop him from taking the oath of office.
Some want to do it through the courts. Others would like to do it in other ways. But in closing this point, to me, President-elect Barack Obama is probably one of the brightest, clearest minds and hearts that has ascended to this office in a long time.
AR: In tough economic times, Black America suffers worse when White America, or mainstream America, is asking for furloughs. When they have pneumonia, we’re on life support. What do you say to the African American community, the Black community, the minority community as a whole in this country to try to work through this tough economic time? And you talked about the economic stimulus package, but do you believe that it is a good thing even though there will be more debt because of it?
HMLF: The Honorable Elijah Muhammad, who is my Teacher, warned us many years ago that the factories would close and that we would be out of work. And he said that we were like the grasshopper who plays all summer long and never does something for the future. But when the first blast of cold weather comes, the grasshopper is gone. He said to us that we have got to strike out and do for ourselves because we cannot expect a benevolent White president or Black president to do for us what we must unite and do for ourselves.
America is for sale: China, Japan, Europe, Korea and Vietnam are buying it. The Black community has $700-800 billion that goes through our hands each year now, but it is our disunity and disrespect of ourselves and each other that disallows us to pool some of these resources to start creating that which will supply our needs.
This stimulus package will put a lot of money into the system that we can access, but the question is: What will we do with it? And that’s why, sister, to say that “Barack Obama’s rise is the end of the Civil Rights Movement,” or, “Jesse Jackson is finished,” or “Sharpton is finished,” or “Farrakhan has no role”—this is crazy.
Look at all of the cases that are in the Justice Department which has not worked for us, so that some measure of justice comes to the people who cry out for justice. Jesse and Al, and all of those that work for civil rights—we still have a long way to go. And so we have our job cut out for us now, because Black people see: “This is my country. I want to run it better.” Or, “I don’t want to be a gang banger.”
Look at all of the violence that’s going on right here in Chicago. That’s not Barack’s job, that’s Jesse’s job; that’s my job; the job of the pastors and the activists where we connect with the city hall and the county commissioners to find ways to work together to create opportunities for these young people. We’ve got a lot of work to do, and I’m glad that this time has come that our people are more ready now to roll up their sleeves.
Like Barack said, when he accepted the fact that he had won, he used this phrase: “We’ve got to go block by block; brick by brick; calloused hand by calloused hand.” He is not going to do that; he’s carrying the cross of America. We have a cross to bear to build our community up.
AR: President Bush, as well as Condoleezza Rice and other world leaders, is calling for [Zimbabwe President] Robert Mugabe to step down because of the cholera outbreak, and just the corruption in government there. What do you think about that?
HMLF: Mr. Mugabe, along with Joshua Nkomo, were the freedom fighters that fought in what was called Rhodesia. As they were getting the victory and about to capture the capital, they were summoned to England where an arrangement was made that they would assume power in Rhodesia. The fight was about “land.” Great Britain, and America, too, were to help Mr. Mugabe who became the president, to buy back the land from the Whites who had taken the land from the people who are the natural inhabitants of that land.
When Britain did not follow through with what she promised Mugabe; and America did not either, then the people that fought alongside Mugabe for the liberation of that land, pressed Mugabe—after nearly 20 years—that “we didn’t fight them so that we could be marginalized in our own country on our own land.” Back then, Mugabe was the “darling” of the Commonwealth; the darling of America; the darling of Great Britain. But when he began to take the land back that many fought and bled and died for, then he became a “tyrant,” and a “terrorist.” And the West went to work to undermine the government and his authority.
I can’t speak for corruption, but I know what has happened to a good man by Western powers who want to suck the blood of Africa! I visited Zimbabwe, and I have sat with Mugabe. The AIDS virus there is killing our people by the thousands. You have a White population there, but they are not infected with AIDS as the Black population is.
So, I cannot go along with President Bush’s call for Mugabe to step down! This criminal element that has the gall to call somebody else to resign? Bush should have stepped down after telling the lies that he told to the American people! And Britain ought to keep her mouth shut! Let Africa settle Africa’s problems!—not the Europeans who have sucked the blood of our people for all of these years!
Blacks built London! We built Brussels! We built Paris! These governments were all built on the backs of Blacks and poor people around the world! They need to be quiet about “corruption,” because if we are corrupt, then we learned it from the most corrupt governments in the world.
I really thank you, sister, for allowing me these few moments to express myself and my thinking. I’ve been doing interviews for a long, long time, and tears have never come in my eyes. And I can’t say that I know why they came in my eyes today except that I must be full; and I must see the great hope, but the great danger, for Barack Obama and his beautiful family.
The greatest victory in our history was accomplished by him. And even though he thanked a lot of people, my only critique of my brother is that I didn’t hear him thank God. Even though I know—or believe—that is all in him, I would like to see him, as busy as he is, just take one Sunday morning and go to some church and worship.
And I hope that in his inaugural address, as he puts his hand on the Bible—a book of scripture revealed by God through His prophets—and he has to say, “So help me God,” that he will remember God, much. Because without the constant remembrance of God, he might think that he did it on his own.
My teacher told me once: “Brother, you’re going to reach the pinnacle of success in this world’s life. But when you get to the top of the mountain, I hope you will remember who brought you there.” There’s something about the heights that cause you to lose consciousness.
My prayer for my brother is that he will always remember the least little person that helped him to get where he is; but most of all, to know that these are creatures of a Mighty Creator. And the Bible puts it like this: “Lean not on thine own understanding, but in all thy ways acknowledge God, and He will direct thy path.” I hope that for my brother, and I believe if he constantly keeps God in his heart—no matter how great his advisors are, His is the vision.
And when Barack Obama said, “I will set the policy…The buck stops with me,” just remember: It isn’t the “me”—it is the “me and Him Who created me; Who brought me from the womb of my mother, and took me to the top of the mountain.”
AR: Thank you, sir.