Mr. Alex Jones sat at a simple table with the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan in his Phoenix, Arizona home early in January 2016. Founder of Infowars and perhaps the most prominent and influential independent journalist in the English-speaking world, Mr. Jones initiated a wide-ranging and incisive two-hour conversation with one of the more important contemporary public intellectuals in America but better known throughout the world as the leader of the Nation of Islam.i
Although highly respected within the African American community, in the eyes of the larger public Minister Farrakhan is seen as more an idiosyncratic curiosity rather than as a serious thinker who falls firmly within the “Black prophetic tradition,” as Dr. Cornell West of Princeton University describes it. It is a vital and living tradition that reaches back to Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglass. A prominent public intellectual in his own right, Dr. West observes, “The black prophetic tradition has been the leaven in the American democratic loaf.”ii
The intimate interview between Mr. Jones and Minister Farrakhan followed a horrendous year of seemingly endless outbreaks of street level violence, rioting, and political protest not seen since the strife-ridden mid-to-late1960s. Overseas, the American masters of military terror and its allies either waged war or threatened such throughout much of the Middle East. Long-standing fears of domestic and global economic crisis were realized as Wall Street began the New Year with a whimper while China experienced a tumultuous first week in 2016 that sent shock waves across the world.
At age eighty-two, four decades senior to Mr. Jones, Minister Farrakhan represents an African American intellectual tradition steeped in prophecy, vision, and spiritual grounding that melds religious belief with political action for the betterment of the community and all of humanity. A protégé of the Hon. Elijah Muhammad through whom he claims legitimacy as the national representative of the Nation of Islam, Minister Farrakhan has placed the organization on a firm footing during his tenure even as his career has been dogged by controversy. The Southern Poverty Law Center founded by Morris Dees, for example, has been a longtime critic of Minister Farrakhan and the NOI. Likewise, Mr. Jones is characterized by the SPLC as the “most prolific conspiracy theorist in contemporary America.”iii
Mr. Jones came to this historic interview having evolved intellectually from bedrock Republican values to his present espousal of what he describes as “classical Jeffersonian Liberalism.” In practical terms, this means he stands in support of libertarian office holders such as retired Rep. Ron Paul and presidential candidate Sen. Rand Paul. Generational, biographical, and political differences notwithstanding, Mr. Jones and Minister Farrakhan were in agreement on most of the pressing issues raised through the course of the riveting conversation.
The questions posed by Mr. Jones and addressed by Minister Farrakhan strike at the heart of all that plague contemporary society and politics. Topics include abortion practices targeting the African American community, racial conflict, political correctness, US foreign policy and war in the Middle East, presidential campaign politics in reference to Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, Islam and the failure of religion, and the recent refugee crisis. Minister Farrakhan spoke sparingly of spiritual matters and cited scripture only occasionally, but suggested to Mr. Jones that he hoped for a second interview that would delve more fully into this important realm of the human experience.
Minister Farrakhan demonstrates a keen and comprehensive understanding of US foreign policy, including in-depth knowledge of its institutions such as the Project For A New American Century (1997-2006). He recognizes the central role of the neo-conservative cabal that steered the country to war in the Middle East and its larger connection to the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. Minister Farrakhan is alarmed by the war-rhetoric of Donald Trump and warns that unless advised properly, he might lead the American people “into the abyss of hell.” Ms. Hillary Clinton, however, is singled out for particular scorn as the “biggest advocate for the destruction of Gaddafi.”
Minister Farrakhan is in agreement with Mr. Trump where it comes to vetting those from the Middle East that seek to enter the US as refugees. There is so much fomented anger at America on the street in reaction to what its political leaders have ordered done to destabilize targeted countries both militarily and through stealth that Minister Farrakhan warns, “You might be letting in your own destruction.”
Although he does not state such, the increased presence of radicalized Muslim immigrants in the US poses an existential threat to the Nation of Islam. The primary danger, however, lies not with armed terrorists such as the married Muslim couple that murdered fourteen employees at a government facility in San Bernardino, California on December 2, 2015. Rather, as an organization that has been subjected continually to harassment by law enforcement agencies, terrorist acts committed by those of the Muslim faith could be used as a pretext for bringing the NOI under government control in the name of national security. By extension, the threat of domestic terrorism—both real, staged, and imagined—could lead to the further erosion of civil liberties and weaken the U.S. Constitution into irrelevance for all Americans.
Minister Farrakhan often has been dismissed as a simple race-baiter. There is no dearth of clips or entire talks available online addressed to NOI assemblies that shows him slipping at times into racial rhetoric that is insulting and divisive. One of the key achievements of the unbounded conversation between Mr. Jones and Minister Farrakhan, however, is to provide the historical and political context for the very real hurt, pain, and economic suffering he is expressing on behalf of African Americans. As he states in the interview, it is the material contributions dating back to the early sixteenth century that along with Native American helped lay the foundation for successive waves of immigrants to settle and prosper in the US.
Minister Farrakhan directs his harshest words not at “The White Man” but toward his co-religionists. “In Islam,” he says directly, “the religion needs to be reformed.” In this, Minister Farrakhan alludes not to theological, political, or organizational reform as such, but to the observable reality that “all religion has failed to produce the human being that God wants out of us.” As a consequence of its failure to help humanity to realize its higher self, “Islam now has tyrants ruling.” Still, Minister Farrakhan points to the US and its criminally corrupt leadership as the “number one tyrant.” He likens contemporary America to “ancient Rome and Babylon” and at a different point in the interview raises the specter of “Armageddon” should the current state of military affairs persist in the Middle East. “And it’s building to that as you and I are speaking,” says Minister Farrakhan.
True to the prophetic vision maintained among a broad range of individuals among the African American intelligentsia, spiritual force and moral authority is the animating energy of Minister Farrakhan’s vision of political and economic autonomy. It is a vital dimension utterly lacking in civil society and the popular culture after a century of state-funded behavioral engineering that has sucked the soul from the body politic. That the prophetic vision of Minister Louis Farrakhan inspires, motivates, and energizes countless individuals within the US and across the world regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religious affiliation, and nationality speaks to the universal appeal of his simple but timeless message: “The people must be free; to grow; to develop; to be cultivated that the glory of God be seen in the human being he created.”iv
i Alex Jones, “Louis Farrakhan: Angel or Devil?” Infowars 20 Jan. 2016. https://www.infowars.com/louis-farrakhan-angel-or-devil/.
ii Chris Hedges, “Cornel West and the Fight to Save the Black Prophetic Tradition.” Truthdig 09 Sep. 2013. Http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/cornel_west_and_the_fight_
iii “Alex Jones.” Southern Poverty Law Center website accessed 21 Jan. 2016. Https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/individual/alex-jones.
iv “Farrakhan Speaks on The Judgment of America and the Muslim World: The Alex Jones Interview.” Nation of Islam website accessed 21 Jan. 2016. Https://www.noi.org/farrakhan-on-judgment/.