“Anti-Fascist” is NOT Pro-Black

One of the major misconceptions to arise in the past few years is the reservation of the title “fascist” to non-woke white people. Beyond watering down the significance of “fascist” to a petty insult, it propagates an ignorant notion that fascism is an ideology exclusive to the whites. The sagacious philosopher Anthony G. Flood provides a brief look into some prominent examples of fascism among blacks in his short essay When fascists were frank.

Talk of fascism is in the air; fascist violence, masquerading as opposition thereto, in the streets. Its appeal crosses racial lines, and it isn’t the first time. It seems opportune to republish “‘We were the first fascists’: from Garvey to Farrakhan.”

Anthony G. Flood

“We were the first fascists”: from Garvey to Farrakhan

On August 13, 1920 Marcus Garvey presided at the convention of the United Negro Improvement Association held at Madison Square Garden in New York City. There he promulgated the Declaration of Rights of the Negro Peoples of the World. Its 54 points comprise the farthest thing from a fascist manifesto.

And yet, as my friend Hugh Murray noted a quarter-century ago, Garvey “admired . . . leading anti-communists, such as Mussolini. Indeed, in 1937 Garvey proudly proclaimed of his Universal Negro Improvement Association, ‘We were the first fascists.’”[1]

Here’s the full quote:

We were the first Fascists, when we had 100,000 disciplined men, and were training children, Mussolini was still an unknown. Mussolini copied our Fascism.[2]

Marcus Garvey

He said this in 1937, after Mussolini consolidated his rape of Ethiopia.

While many liberals [Murray continues] are the first to hurl the word “fascist” at those with whom they disagree, they usually ignore the fascism of blacks, even when publicly advocated.[3]

A few years after Hugh wrote those words, King’s College Professor of American and English Literature Paul Gilroy came out with “Black Fascism” (Transition, Indiana UPress, 2000, 70-91), a scholarly monograph on Garvey’s boast, the first instance of Black public advocacy of fascism. I recommend it to students of this overlooked chapter of Black American history.

George Lincoln Rockwell, center

On June 25, 1961 American Nazi Party Commander George Lincoln Rockwell sat in the Uline Arena, Washington, DC (where the Beatles would give their first US concert a few years later). He was there at the invitation of Nation of Islam (NOI) leader Elijah Muhammad. Thousands were in attendance. During the collection, Rockwell shouted:

“George Lincoln Rockwell gives $20!

That’s about $135 in today’s money. Malcolm X, noting the applause, asked him:

George Lincoln Rockwell, you got the biggest hand you ever got, didn’t you?” [4]

This wasn’t a one-off: Muhammad invited Rockwell to speak at their next Saviour’s Day Convention, which he did on Sunday, February 25, 1962, before 12,175 people in Chicago’s International Amphitheater. 

At the podium, in full Nazi regalia, Rockwell adjudged “that Elijah Muhammad is to the so-called Negro what Adolph Hitler is to the German people. He is the most powerful black man in the country.  Heil Hitler!” [5]

Louis Farrakhan, NOI’s current Führer, has not only not repudiated his outfit’s past overtures to American Nazis, but has only reinforced his image as a Black National Socialist. Of course, there isn’t an American Nazi Party worth its salt to invite to a Saviours’ Day commemoration. (Farrakhan pluralized “Saviour” in 1983.) Instead he enjoys the admiration of Black Muslim members of Congress who share his anti-Jewish Weltanschauung and can promote it on a platform wider than the Uline Arena.

Whereas Farrakhan recently joked that he’s not an anti-Semite (only “anti-termite“) it’s the considered view of Ilhan Omar (D-MN) that “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” When, under pressure from the Democratic leadership, she apologized, Farrakhan gently chided her:

Ms. Omar from Somalia—she started talking about ‘the Benjamins’ and they are trying to make her apologize. Sweetheart, don’t do that. Pardon me for calling you sweetheart, but you do have a sweet heart. You sure are using it to shake the government up, but you have nothing to apologize for. . . . Israel and AIPAC pays off senators and congressmen to do their bidding, so you’re not lying, so if you’re not lying. Stop laying down. You were sent there by the people to shake up that corrupt House.

Another Muslim congressional newbie, a 2006 guest columnist for NOI’s The Final Call, is Rashida “Impeach the motherf—–” Tlaib (D-MN). She wants the US to cut off aid to Israel because such aid “doesn’t fit the values of our country,” which “values” apparently include using an obscenity to refer to our country’s president. In front of her child.

Addressing both women, the Minister reminded his “beautiful sisters” that they “were sent there to shake that House up. Your people voted you in, but God is the overseer.”

Then-Senator Obama with Farrakhan and members of the Congressional Black Caucus, 2005

America’s most notable Black Muslims, Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, fell out with the NOI: Malcolm in 1964, Ali in 1975.[6] Farrakhan, perhaps the lone survivor of that generation, remains Farrakhan. His 1984 description of “Adolf Hitler [as] a very great man” didn’t socially restrict him from appearing in a photo op with one president or sharing the stage with another.

He was almost certainly at those “ecumenical” NOI events in 1961 and 1962. I would appreciate hearing from any reader who can eliminate the “almost.”

Image result for farrakhan clinton
Farrakhan, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson, and Bill Clinton, funeral service for Aretha Franklin, Greater Grace Temple, Detroit, MI, Aug. 31, 2018

[1] See J. A. Rogers, World’s Great Men of Color (New York: J. A. Rogers, 1947), Vol. II, pp. 602, 605.”

[2] 1937 interview reported by Joel A. Rogers, “Marcus Garvey,” in Negroes of New York series, New York Writers Program, 1939, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York. This remark seems to have been dropped from later editions of Rogers’s book.

[3] See Murray’s “White Liberals, Black Racists,” in Chronicles (August, 1994), pp. 43-46.

[4] Muhammad Speaks, April 1962, p. 3.

[5] See Black History and the Class StruggleSpartacist League, August 1994, p. 37. Those interested in researching this fascinating (if also disturbing) chapter of American history should start with William H. Schmaltz, Hate: George Lincoln Rockwell & the American Nazi Party, Washington,DC: Brassey’s, 1999. For the June 25, 1961 event, see Chapter 6, “1961: This Time the World,” 119-21; for February 25, 1962, see Chapter 7, “1962: A World Union of National Socialists,” 133-35. I’ve posted the text of these chapters here. See also Tristan Hopper, “The weird time Nazis made common cause with black nationalists,”National Post, August 24, 2017. Also useful is Mark Jones, “Malcolm X’s Unlikely Washington Connections,”Boundary Stones, February 21, 2015.  The most comprehensive article I’ve seen is Sam McPheeters, “When Malcolm X Met the Nazis,”Vice, April 15, 2015. See also Hugh Murray’s 1994 letter to The New York Times and 1995 letter to The Chronicles of Higher Education. You can read them here.

[6] It probably got Malcolm killed. After he had called out Elijah Muhammad for serially impregnating his underage secretaries, Farrakhan (then “Louis X”) announced that “such a man is worthy of death.” He later regretted that his words may have led to Malcolm’s murder on February 25, 1965—two months after he uttered them.

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